Elliot Solomon, CEO of Solotel, spoke to Australian Hotelier for the 2023 Industry Leaders Forum. As part of the discussion, Solomon spoke of the opening of the much anticipated Abercrombie Hotel and how, after years of lying dormant, nightclub offerings have to be reconsidered to suit a whole new generation of partygoers.
Australian Hotelier spoke to Solomon in early December, two weeks before The Abercrombie Hotel was set to re-open on the fringes of Sydney’s CBD after having been closed for years. The Solotel boss already knew that the opening would be the biggest highlight for the group in 2022.
The Abercrombie’s offering includes a large nightclub space on the ground floor, which mostly targets the 18-25 year-old crowd, looking to party into the early hours of the morning.
Taking into account covid restrictions and lockout laws before that, it’s been a long-time since Sydney has had a healthy late-night clubbing scene. With that in mind, Solotel had to start from scratch when it came to what a dynamic clubbing culture would look like in 2023.
“It’s something that myself and the team at Solotel have been thinking about over the last year or so as we’ve been getting ready to open The Abercrombie. Anyone that’s younger than 28 has never experienced Sydney with proper nightlife,” states the CEO.
Instead, young adults have turned to house parties and illegal raves for a late-night experience. The Solotel management team began some internal research with their younger employees to see what they would want from a legitimate nightclub experience.
“It’s interesting because so many of them don’t really have experiences in licensed venues. Their experiences are in unregulated warehouse spaces in industrial areas near the city, or house parties. So there was a lot interest and intrigue, but there’s also a bit of apprehension.”
One of the interesting insights to come out of the talks was a focus on security and safety.
“This emphasis on safety is really important for the Gen Z demographic. And it’s safety to be yourself and to be in inclusive environments; not to feel like you’re going to be in danger for being yourself,” states Solomon.
“And then also there’s a lot of apprehension around security and police, so I think that comes down to them not being used to going to nightclubs. So I think the challenge for us will be to show why it’s compelling to go to a licensed venue, and I think if the venue is run correctly and has its patrons in mind, it will be an incredibly inclusive and a safe environment for everyone.
The other big insight was a well-rounded experience – with thought put into everything from the AV component to food and beverage.
“It’s got to have an incredible sound system and light show. That’s a big difference now. It’s not just about going into a little dirty basement and having a dance – it’s about a multi-faceted experience through sound, the light, the food and beverage product. The non-alc component is also really important. That wellness piece plays into late-night as well.”
Lastly, the clubbing experience has to be reflective of the local community and culture.
“It’s about ensuring that we collaborate with the right people: the people that will further encourage that community, while working with a range of different taste-makers so it’s a different space for everyone. There’s got to be a bit more of a community piece to everything. That’s really important for the emerging generation.”
This is a sneak peak of from the 2023 Annual Industry Leaders Forum issue, out next week. You’ll be able to read more about what Solotel and other esteemed operators and industry partners have planned in 2023.