A Day in the Life of a Nightlife Operations Director
People go to clubs to have a good time -- whether it's an evening to celebrate a special occasion, the chance to party with your favorite celebrities or just a night out on the town. Great music, delicious drinks, a lively crowd, exciting entertainment and an energetic atmosphere are the perfect ingredients for a fun night of endless possibilities. These details are carefully created by management for their patrons' optimal pleasure.
This is a day (and night) in the life of a nightlife operations director.
Howard Weiss is the director of pool and nightlife operations at The Pool, which is a unique event space at Harrah's Resort in Atlantic City, N.J. It's one venue with two extremely different atmospheres: An Olympic-size pool situated under a striking, 90-foot-high glass dome, where daytime guests can swim in the sunshine and lounge poolside with exotic cocktails before it becomes The Pool After Dark, where patrons party alongside celebrities in private cabanas and dance under the stars.
During the day, Weiss can often be found talking to guests at The Pool, overseeing food and beverage operations or working at his desk booking future events; but at night the electrifying environment takes over as he shows celebrities like Kim Kardashian, Adrian Grenier and Nicki Minaj around the property; greets VIP customers, and runs the entire nightclub.
It takes communication, leadership and experience to coordinate all of the different aspects at the award-winning nightclub. It's an intense, fast pace to maintain. The secret, Weiss says, is entering each day with a fresh approach: "I think what keeps me excited and interested about coming to work every day is, it's always something different."
Background in the business
Originally from Merrick, Long Island, Weiss graduated from Penn State University, having studied hospitality management. Beginning in the Atlantic City casino industry, Weiss opened clubs, restaurants and lounges before accepting a position in Las Vegas managing numerous nightlife venues such as LAX Nightclub, Venus Pool Club, Pure Nightclub and Christian Audigier Nightclub. He then returned to Atlantic City to operate The Pool.
Weiss and his team at The Pool After Dark are the 2011 recipients of the prestigious Mega Club of the Year award, as voted by Nightclub & Bar magazine, which is a goal Weiss says he has worked toward since taking the helm in July 2009. For him, the award represents the future. He says that while the average lifespan for a nightclub is two or three years, "we've already exceeded that -- and we want to keep going."
Overseeing everything in the club -- including managers, supervisors, lounge servers, bartenders, VIP bottle hosts, security personnel, pool attendants, lifeguards, food runners, and cooks -- Weiss certainly has a full plate. He handles around-the-clock operations, directing his staff of over 100 employees. "A lot of people say I wear several hats around here because we're trying to do so many different things," Weiss says about his role. "My focus is completely divided between day and night, making sure that I'm paying as much attention to the day operation along with the night operation."
Day or night, Weiss and his team strive to ensure their customers have the best experience while on property. It's a task he takes very seriously from start to finish, explaining, "I book all of the entertainment, all of the DJs, manage all of the promoters, work very closely with the different department heads -- marketing advertising, housekeeping, front desk."
In addition, The Pool hosts live radio and TV broadcasts, photo shoots, company parties and banquets. Weiss also oversees a 24-hour fitness center on location, as well as a family fun center open seven days a week.
This tropical oasis is adorned with towering palm trees, flowers and foliage, along with hot tubs, cabanas, and indoor and outdoor deck areas. There are also The Pool Bar and The Loft -- a limited-access, ultra upscale VIP area positioned on the balcony level, overlooking the entire pool complex. Weiss says the upkeep for the venue alone is an expansive job. The daily process includes making sure the pools are the right temperature, the lights are working, and everything is where it needs to be.
The Pool closes at 7PM, allowing employees three hours to turn the space into a nightclub. The job may sound simple -- removing lounge chairs and installing the stage, setting up bottle services, etc. -- but it is anything but, Weiss contends. "From a technical perspective, we literally start from ground zero every night. We build the stage every night, we build the perimeter to the stage every night, the lighting, the DJ booth; all that stuff gets set up for nightlife."
Creating a buzz
Weiss also spends much of his day "executing deals" for the events and entertainment. Finalizing a deal can take 48 hours to three weeks; but after a celebrity is confirmed, he moves on to fulfilling their requests, which can include "rooms, transportation, technical riders, technical equipment."
On the night of a celebrity appearance, Weiss walks them down to the red carpet where they pose for photographers and partake in media interviews before heading into the club to host the party. He then walks around the club, making sure everything runs smoothly, tending to VIP guests and the celebrities, as well as dealing with whatever else may unexpectedly happen.
Most nights, capacity crowds pack into The Pool After Dark, hoping to rub elbows with visitors such as Giuliana Rancic, Carmen Electra, DJ Pauly D, Audrina Patridge, David Hasselhoff, Lil Jon, Mya, Flo Rida and Mike "The Situation" Sorrentino.
For Weiss, the best nights are measured by the response from customers. "When we do a big event, we want the people to go crazy," he says. For instance, when Lindsay Lohan appeared, "people were just wowed to see her -- so that was a really cool experience for me."
Promotion plays a big part in the club's success, Weiss says. The Pool holds 2,600 people, so maintaining business in the world of nightlife is a constant necessity. "We can't just sit back, open up our doors and hope for people to come in; we got people that are out there from 7, 8 in the morning -- promoters, street teams, people sitting behind a desk sending out Facebook blasts, e-mail blasts to get people into the door and also telling them what's going on."
He also works with the president of the hotel securing billboard space, media attention, signage throughout the property, flyers and passes for patrons.
Back to the beginning
When the party's over, it's again time for the switch. "At the end of nightlife, it all has to go back to storage and we have to turn back into that daytime piece," Weiss explains. The club closes at around 4AM, and must be transformed for daytime use by 7AM. "Communicating is key," he says, to making sure the transition is seamless.
Weiss has accomplished many goals during his time at The Pool, but says the most rewarding part is knowing he and his team delivered a spectacular night for guests filled with friendly customer service. "The high-volume nights are very memorable to me because there's a lot of action, there's a lot of involvement with customers and staff," he notes. "In addition, when we have celebrities here, you're trying to maintain the celebrities and you're trying to control [the crowds], so all of that action is pretty neat."
Weiss interacts with guests, welcomes celebrities, works alongside his team and deals with the media promoting his club. For the man who wears many hats, his vast duties are all part of a day-and night's-work as a nightlife operations director.
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