Hospitality in Vegas is the heartbeat of the city. It is why millions of tourists come to the city each year. Hakkasan Group has been at the forefront of entertaining guests from all over the globe, hosting high-caliber celebrities and working with some of the biggest names in the music industry, and Sal Wise has been at the helm for a decade ensuring top-tier experiences each and every night.
With more and more options for entertainment, it comes down to innovative minds like Wise and a team of the best, to keep venues successfully operating in the bustling Sin City scene.
Wise leads the daylife and nightlife marketing division implementing brand strategy, overseeing creative efforts, guiding partnerships and leveraging the brand portfolio for new business opportunities for its leading entities spanning Los Cabos, Las Vegas and San Diego. During Wise’s near decade with Hakkasan Group, he has successfully launched the world-renowned Las Vegas-based nightlife venues OMNIA Nightclub at Caesars Palace and Hakkasan Nightclub at MGM Grand Hotel & Casino. Additionally, Wise spearheads the marketing strategy for one of the world’s top daylife venues WET REPUBLIC Ultra Pool at MGM Grand Hotel & Casino. Within his role, Wise cohesively works with A-list artists to facilitate roll-out marketing, and develop brand extensions and partnership activations.
We sat down with Sal to discuss what he’s seen happening in daylife and nightlife the last few years.
How did you end up in Vegas and in the daylife/nightlife scene?
I grew up in Dana Point, CA and later attended the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. During my time as a student, I began to host social gatherings, which sparked my passion for event execution and marketing. Fast forward a couple years and my positions include working for a regional promotion and marketing company that specializes in nightlife venues and products, which led me to oversee the marketing efforts for a new trend-setting boutique nightlife venue, Blush at Wynn. My time at Blush really exposed me to the Las Vegas experiential landscape. I learned a robust set of skills from senior leadership and by being completely submerged in the growing Las Vegas daylife and nightlife scene. In 2010, I made the move to Angel Management Group, which was later acquired by Hakkasan Group. During my decade at Hakkasan Group, I have worked alongside some brilliant individuals who have visualized, developed and executed top daylife and nightlife concepts ranging from opening new venues to rolling out exclusive artist residencies.
Sal, how has nightlife evolved the past few decades in Las Vegas?
Nightlife has evolved significantly over the past decade, however the root of the Las Vegas hospitality landscape remains the same, guests are always looking to have the experience of a lifetime. Years ago, the dominant nightlife trend was celebrities hosting the night. No type of performance, just an appearance. This has transitioned because clubgoers were seeking the next level in experience, which is where the introduction of performances came in. Artists would make special appearances and perform a handful of their top hits. This is still ever-present in the nightlife scene however it has expanded to a residency where artists are scheduled for recurring appearances whether spinning a two-hour DJ set or performing 3-5 songs. The notion that a guest could see some of the industry’s top artists in the world, on recurring dates, only in Las Vegas, became the new direction.
What’s next in evolution – how do you continue to push the envelope and keep guests coming to sin city each year
Hakkasan Group continues to lead the daylife/nightlife market by not only consistently offering top-notch customer service that our company has become synonymous with, but also breaking barriers with new events and state-of-the-art production additions. For example in May, we unveiled The Hakkasan Grid at Hakkasan Nightclub, the largest kinetic light art installation in the United States. The Hakkasan Grid is made of 57, 4-foot seamless and sculptural triangles that combine to form a 30-foot showpiece, which transforms with the nightclub’s musical landscape into infinite shapes and colors.
What’s the recipe for success in creating top nightclubs and dayclubs in Las Vegas? We’ve heard Wet Republic is now the longest running dayclub in Las Vegas and OMNIA Nightclub is one of the most Instagram-able spots in the city.
The recipe for success inevitably comes down to having a team that has passion for what they do and strive to learn, grow and create next level work. Success does not come without trial and error, as this is how we have learned as a company and have mastered our craft. Hakkasan Group is rooted in creating remarkable experiences for guests, and this is something that remains steadfast no matter how trends in the market change.
What’s the most memorable event you’ve experienced at a Hakkasan venue in the past decade?
The most memorable moment for me would be the opening of OMNIA Nightclub in 2015. To see all the hard work come to fruition is easily one for the books.
How has social media changed the way you create experiences for guests?
Social media has positively impacted not only the daylife/nightlife experience, but also the relationship that our artists have with their fans. Social media allows guests to capture that unforgettable moment in real time, share with friends and preserve their experiences . As far as for our artists, social media allows them to engage with fans on both a professional and personal level. It creates a stronger bond with existing fans and establishes new fans, in turn drawing more visitors to our venues that artist. Social media is also an avenue that sells a significant amount of tickets for us.
If someone has never been to Vegas, why would you tell them to go to your dayclub and nightclub?
First off, I would tell them that there is a reason our venues continue to attract millions of guests and celebrity clientele, and the best way to understand why… is to book that trip and experience it first-hand. I would tell them to go to WET REPUBLIC Ultra Pool because it is now the longest-running pool party in Las Vegas and summer 2020 will make an even bigger splash. They could then head over to Hakkasan Nightclub to check out the largest kinetic light installation in the U.S., The Hakkasan Grid or visit OMNIA to see why Architectural Digest calls it “the best club in Las Vegas and one of the most visually stunning in the world.” Additionally, we offer an incomparable top-tier artist lineup including Calvin Harris, Tiësto, Zedd, Martin Garrix, Steve Aoki, Tyga, Lil Jon and more.
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