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SYMPTOM: It’s 11pm, drinking-up time, and no one wants to go home. The West End is overflowing with party crowds and I can’t seem to get my group into a late-night bar or club. How do we get past the red rope?
REMEDY: The simple treatment is to be prepared. Sure, you could try your luck in a queue, but December’s not the best time to be hanging around outside and who’s to say you’ll make it past the stern face with the clipboard once you get to the front? All-male groups will certainly be pushing their luck, while just about any corporate crowd is likely to struggle with the fashion police. So what are your options if you do want to carry on drinking post-pub with a group? Well, they’re not as limited as you might think. Even the hippest bars and clubs are now savvy to the value of corporate cash – all you need to know is how to approach them.
Let your money talk
Isn’t it funny how money opens doors? Offering to pay up front will get you more respect, particularly in bars and nightclubs. If your straightforward request for a table reservation is denied, try asking whether they’d arrange one for you topped with buckets of vodka or Champagne.
Get the VIP treatment
Most clubs have a VIP area away from the main bars and dance floor. These work in two ways: either, as originally intended, by keeping the riff-raff out or – and this is where you come in – by locking it up. So what if your accounts department isn’t exactly slick? Once they’re tucked away in here, everyone else will think they’re celebrities.
Make it yours for the night
The easiest way to ensure easy access to a bar or club is, of course, to hire the place out for the evening. This might not be feasible on a Friday night in December but you’d be surprised how many deals can be had earlier in the week. Use your best business skills to book space on a Monday and you may even get it at cost.
Have your people talk to theirs
Kate Moss, P Diddy and Madonna wouldn’t dream of calling a club themselves, so why should you? Celebrities may give the clubs column inches but your cash is what keeps them afloat, so don’t be afraid to make a fuss of yourselves. There are now several agents which broker deals between clubs and corporates – try Purple Panther Events (tel: 020 7887 1905) or Late Night London (tel: 0870 777 7080).
This article first appeared in Square Meal Venues & Events magazine, Autumn 2008.