Capital club keeps one step ahead

No looking back for three-time SLTN Nightclub of the Year Why Not

New VIP area ‘The Vault’

By Jonathan Watt

GRANDIOSE and imposing, the building at 14 George Street in Edinburgh’s new town is home to Caledonian Heritable’s famous Dome Bar and Grill and Why Not nightclub.

And while The Dome takes its design cues from its locale’s historic links to Edinburgh’s wealthiest, Why Not only looks in one direction: forward.

Jay Glass, who ran the club when it won the SLTN Award for Nightclub of the Year in 2013, and in 2016 and 2017 in association with Grey Goose, before becoming Caledonian’s marketing manager for its 41 managed venues alongside serving as the club’s area manager, said staying ahead of the game is crucial to Why Not’s success.

“Over the last five years we’ve got the club to the level where it is now,” he said.

“I believe it’s the best club in the country and we have the awards to back that claim up.

“But success is never owned; it’s rented. And the rent is due every single day. So we have to keep innovating, it’s something that’s truer for nightclubs than it is for pubs.”

To stay ahead of the competition, Jay makes the 5000-mile journey from Edinburgh to Las Vegas annually for the Nightclub & Bar Convention and Trade Show.

“It’s no secret that the US cities, and Las Vegas and Los Angeles in particular, are at the forefront of nightclub trends globally, so it’s great to go and have a look at their ideas,” he said.

One clear sign of American influence in Why Not is in the redesigned VIP area which borrows from Los Angeles’ club The Reserve, which is in a converted bank vault.

Setting up their own vault-style VIP area at Why Not was apt given that the A-listed building was first built as the headquarters of the Commercial Bank of Scotland.

Innovation helped the club win the 2017 SLTN Nightclub of the Year Award, in association with Grey Goose.

The space has a vault-style gate, a transparent floor with stacks of branded Why Not dollars underneath, its own bar and table service, and is designed to cater for groups seeking a more exclusive experience.

While the 1100-capacity venue has always made use of the generously-sized outdoor area it shares with The Dome – the addition of new bar The Outhouse, accessible from the courtyard, has enhanced the club from an operations perspective, reducing waiting times at the internal bars and providing additional toilets.

Although the physical changes to the club in recent years have been significant, so too has the marketing of the venue – particularly online – which includes the launch of a Why Not app, redeveloped website and online customer survey.

Jay said: “I wanted something which sits in people’s pockets, allows us to market directly to them but they can turn it off if they want to.

“The app has changed the way our customers book with us, it also allows us to promote our social media. 

Success is never owned; it’s rented.  And the rent is due every single day.

“It’s easy to use, customers can book tables and bottle packages as well as stream a Why Not Radio podcast, that’s been downloaded 8500 times, which is pretty damn good.

“We’re always looking to improve and do other things but if we don’t know what our customers think of us then we might be going in the wrong direction.”

To this end, the management team at the club initiated an online survey last year, gaining important feedback from over 400 customers

Jay said: “We got a lot of good feedback so we are going to make it an annual thing so we can keep track of what our guests think of us.”