You need to understand why you’re doing what you do – and it’s not simply to make a profit: Zero Gravity GM

by Dina Maaty | Published 1 year ago

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Zero Gravity – a beach, bar and restaurant – has maintained consistency in offering an all-round experience for guests throughout the years. On occasion of the venue’s 6th anniversary, General Manager Peter Skudutis reveals their secrets to success.

Peter Skudutis
GM, Zero Gravity

What do you think were some of the most important developments in Zero Gravity’s format and offerings?When we launched Zero Gravity in 2013, it was a beachside restaurant, not a beach club. The Zero Gravity that people know and love today was still a distant dream. We began with the main building structure with only eight sofa sets in the garden.

A few months after opening, we extended our operation onto the beach with the installation of umbrellas and sun loungers. From here, we adopted the mindset of a 5-star hotel in terms of our beach service, including hourly complimentary amenities and other signature touches that we have maintained until now.

Our first major corporate event took place in December 2013, and was the Dubai International Film Festival closing party. This prestigious event put us on the Dubai Marina map both physically and metaphorically, and gave us the opportunity to showcase our abilities.

In February 2014, we held our first ‘proactive’ event in the garden with international DJ Paul Van Dyk, which attracted almost 4,000 guests. This was the first real test in terms of our capacity and ability to serve and entertain large numbers of guests, and we handled the layout and crowd management side very well.

After the summer of 2014, we launched our first season of regular weekly events with major international DJs every Thursday and Friday night. With thousands of guests attending each week, we realised the potential of the ‘nightlife’ element of our business, and to date have hosted over 450 international artists.

In 2015, we took our events one step further and created our first beach festival alongside Think Events, and DXBeach was born with a full festival stage set up on the sand. We’ve held several beach festivals each year since 2015, bringing over heavyweight headliners such as Mark Ronson, Fatboy Slim, Tiesto, Rudimental, Clean Bandit and many more.

We launched our new swimming pool and main stage early 2016, and completely changed the dynamic of our business, leading the market in day-to-night concepts. This led to the launch of several new events which have revolutionised the market such as our ladies’ day, Friday’s Tropical Brunch and our immensely popular Saturday brunch SuperNatural.

How has the venue managed to maintain its success under different market fluctuations and in face of competition?
We at Zero Gravity have always tried to remain true to our core values as a business, which is to offer an unparalleled experience to our customers while maintaining a sense of value at all times. By value, we don’t mean entering a price war, but rather leaving people more than satisfied with every aspect of their experience.

What would you say are the most unique features of Zero Gravity, and why does it attract the type of guests that it does in particular?
Looking at the physical features of Zero Gravity, our spectacular location and, of course, our iconic glass-sided pool stand out as truly unique.

We have a very broad customer base in terms of age and demographic, which also makes Zero Gravity unique compared to other beach clubs. We welcome all ages during week, and serve some of the city’s busiest brunches and coolest nightlife events. There’s literally something for everyone.

We’re an extremely versatile operation and our flexibility makes us unique. We hold everything from black tie gala dinners, product launches, and movie nights on the beach, to music festivals, club nights, brunches, meetings and a la carte.

Finally, we take our impact on the environment very seriously and have launched our own campaign and programme called ‘We Love Our Beach’. It’s a programme that tracks our progress at minimising our impact on the environment.

The public face of the campaign is a monthly beach clean-up on the first Sunday of every month, in addition to an educational campaign on our social media channels.

How do you ensure variety while offering the best experiences possible to all guests?
We think about and research what the customer wants first, then work out how we’re going to achieve that. That, perhaps, differs from other businesses that evaluate costs and profitability as a priority before implementing new ideas. This can create a fear of failure that results in diluted, ‘safe’ offerings.

We start first by offering as much value and variety as we possibly can (limited by our imagination, not our risk tolerance), and then we work backwards based on guest response.

What do you think is the winning formula for success in terms of F&B and nightlife, in addition to a solid brunch offering?
Whether in F&B, nightlife or putting on a brunch, the very first thing that you need to understand is why you’re doing what you do, and – spoiler alert – it’s not simply to make a profit. Profits are the result of what you do well, and the better you construct your business to deliver the reason why customers choose you, the more profitable you will be.

F&B and nightlife provide people with an experience. This experience is pursued by people looking for stimulation. That might be stimulation through food and drinks (taste and smell), music (sound), quality of goods (touch), other people, venue design and atmosphere (sight) or social stimulation. Stimulation is the reason we all go out, whether that be to a restaurant, a bar or nightclub.

The winning formula consists of providing the best environment and experience that lead to the best stimulation. The venues that stimulate our senses the most, are the ones we go back to time and time again, even if we don’t understand why. We often try to capture this with words like vibe, ambiance or atmosphere.

It’s the job of the businesses’ management to decide how much weight needs to be applied to each area of their business. The better you get at delivering on every controllable element to the expectations of guests, the more successful you will be in F&B and nightlife. 

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