By Matthew Lynas
One year later and Jay and the team from Why Not were picking up the SLTN Nightclub of the Year award in association with Red Bull at the 2013 SLTN Awards.
SLTN’s judges were impressed by Why Not’s use of technology and space, aspects of the club which received an overhaul as per Jay’s design.
“We started [the refurbishment] in the first week in January 2013,” Jay told SLTN.
“It took us three months and we did it sort of bit by bit in stages so as not to affect the customers. It was a bit of a task but it was a learning experience, good fun.”
Why Not Nightclub was refurbished over three months with the club trading throughout.
Drawing on experience gained from two years working in London nightclubs, Jay approached Why Not Nightclub parent firm Caledonian Heritable, whose other Edinburgh ventures include The Dome and Ryan’s Bar, and was given the green light for his vision of the club.
His influence on the venue’s design is evident right from the front door, as customers descend the club’s staircase lit by an LED bannister.
But it was the introduction of an LED room as part of the refurbishment that provided the club’s biggest talking point.
Based around a similar system found in Smack Nightclub in Leamington Spa, Why Not’s LED room is said to be the only one of its kind in Scotland.
The walls and ceiling of the room are lined with LEDs controlled from the DJ booth using Madrix software.
Tables in the LED room can be booked in advance and, in addition to the full drinks range from the club’s main space, the LED room offers a range of whiskies as part of the more “premium” experience Jay aimed to create.
And the premium feel was just as important outside as in.
The George Street venue shares a garden area with The Dome, taking over the space from 9pm, and Jay said it is important guests feel comfortable in the area.
“What we do out there is very much like a laid back lounge atmosphere,” said Jay.
“There’s outside garden furniture, nice comfortable seats, shisha pipes and the DJ plays things like funk and soul and disco.
“It’s laid back funky, not loud at all.
“It’s a unique selling point obviously.
“The garden is a huge feature of the venue; to be able to have people go outside and smoke in a nice area rather than just being sort of stuck where there’s ropes around you.”
Efforts were also made to create a point of difference for the venue through its drinks list.
The club has a partnership with Ciroc vodka which gives the venue exclusivity on new products such as Ciroc Halo – an LED-lit rotating pouring device – as well as support for aspects of the refurbishment.
Why Not also offers a bespoke cocktail menu which was designed with the venue’s clientele in mind, with the majority of the drinks created by the club’s deputy manager Kirsten Kane.
“She’s really good with
cocktails and we do things like try to make it relevant to the environment that we’re in so you can see instead of an iced tea we’ve got an iced Tiesto,” said Jay, alluding to the Dutch DJ and record producer from whom the drink takes its name.
If a tailored offer keeps customers coming back, getting your name about is key to building a nightclub clientele.
The garden has a lounge atmosphere. It’s a unique selling point.
One year on from the refurbishment and Why Not still regularly fills to its capacity of 680, according to Jay.
The club’s use of digital media marketing has played its part in helping Why Not to stand out from the crowd.
“It’s important to stay in touch with your customer in such a competitive market,” said Jay.
“I think you need to take advantage of any opportunity.”
But using the technology in the right way is vital, said Jay.
“Technology-based, it does seem to be going [towards] mobile phones, social media platforms, apps, that sort of thing,” he said.
“But we are falling into the annoyance stage with some clubs.
“I think people get Facebook notifications all the time from some clubs and they might be put off by that but certainly an app that’s controlled is a good way to communicate with your customers.”
SLTN Awards judges were particularly impressed by the Why Not app’s booking feature, which allows customers to reserve one of the club’s fourteen tables or two private booths next to the dancefloor.
Booking in advance entitles customers to priority entry, table service and drinks on arrival if pre-ordered. The tables and booths can be booked out for free, although a minimum spend policy applies to each table.
“We encourage them to download the app from
Facebook,” said Jay.
“It’s really easy to update offers and has the ability to send out notifications.
“We’ve seen a huge uplift in guest list inquiries.”