(Note: This story appears in the January 2023 issue of ED Magazine)
As Sapphire Las Vegas’ General Manager, Marcus Bately has utilized his security background to ensure everyone at Sapphire Las Vegas is having a good — and safe — time.
Eighteen years ago, fresh from selling a security business in Detroit and Chicago he’d owned with his father and moving to Las Vegas, Marcus Bately was
hired as a club limo driver at Sapphire Las Vegas.
When he first set eyes on the club, Bately couldn’t believe how massive it was and immediately wanted to be a part of it. A few months after starting, Bately was elevated to working the front door. From there, he was promoted to a manager and became Sapphire’s General Manager a few months before COVID. Safe to say, he’s undoubtedly cemented his role as a critical member of the Sapphire ensemble.
ED legal correspondent Larry Kaplan spoke with Marcus Bately about the challenges of managing the largest adult nightclub in the US, while trying to have a personal life.
ED: Tell me about your former security business.
BATELY: It was a family business. I’d never worked elsewhere. We had to secure government public housing buildings before they were demolished. My dad and I managed people and dealt with various security issues.
ED: How did your previous security experience help you in the club?
BATELY: I understood the value of de-escalation. While securing vacant buildings, we dealt with lots of aggressive people. When you approach each situation with a smile, it’s far better than an aggressive response. And I’ve trained everybody at Sapphire with that same philosophy. It starts from the front door; our security hosts aren’t the big tough bruisers that clubs once employed. Instead, they’re all considered security hosts.
I’m from Scotland; my dad ran a club in England. He referred to himself as the head bouncer. His stories of those days describe responses very different from how we do things nowadays. He visits Sapphire, and he can’t believe how completely different our orientation is.
ED: It’s a different world.
BATELY: It’s so much better, you know. We have guests who come and spend a lot of money. So you’ve got to ensure that everybody feels they’re in a place where they’re welcome, safe, and confident that they’ll have fun. And making that happen consistently is everybody’s job at the club.
In Las Vegas, we’re not just competing against other gentlemen’s clubs but against Las Vegas itself. With nightclubs offering superstar DJs, concerts, and so many other entertainment options, we must make them feel as comfortable and welcome as possible if they choose us.
“When you approach each situation with a smile, it’s far better than an aggressive response. And I’ve trained everybody at Sapphire with that same philosophy. It starts from the front door; our security hosts aren’t the big tough bruisers that clubs once employed. Instead, they’re all considered security hosts.” — Marcus Bately
ED: It’s reasonable to suggest that employees who’ve done several jobs in a club understand that club better and make excellent GMs.
BATELY: It’s definitely helped me better understand the security side and everything inside, from hosting to serving. It’s allowed me to know everybody at the club before managing and to understand them better.
ED: What other unique challenges does operating an adult club in Vegas present? And how do you overcome those challenges?
BATELY: People save up to visit Las Vegas; they want to have the best time and, nowadays, that special Instagram moment. And that presents unique challenges. So everybody here has to step up to the plate and be on the same page to ensure that every single guest does have that experience to make them feel special in their own way, whether that’s someone with a bottle of champagne they’d never buy back home or the person who wants just to experience feeling special within their budget or the guest who will spend a fortune; that’s the uniqueness of Las Vegas.
ED: What are some of the unique operational characteristics of a club that’s over 70,000 square feet that also has an outdoor pool area?
BATELY: We’re over 70,000 square feet; it’s a massive building. In addition, we also have the pool in the back, which is an additional 40,000 sq. ft. with a 900-person capacity, making it even bigger. We’ve got skyboxes in our main room, a Scotch room with karaoke and a pool table, and our 6,000 sq. ft. showroom events space. We show Monday Night Football and the UFC fights in there. Our marketing director, George, organizes many different events that fill that room.
The great thing about our facility, with the main room, the pool, the showroom, and everything we offer, is that it’s not just your average gentlemen’s club. It’s much more diverse, more of an adult entertainment facility.
We’ve got lots of couples coming into the club. In part, that’s due to the advertising we do for couples’ packages. We provide a very couples-friendly environment. Couples and others that wouldn’t ordinarily visit a gentlemen’s club might come for a special event or to spend the afternoon at the pool and then realize this is an upscale place. So they’ll decide to stay and check out the gentleman’s club.
ED: You recently started partnering with Fatburger inside your Las Vegas Sapphire. Can you talk about the decision to establish Fatburger at the club?
BATELY: We just introduced Fatburger in November. A group of people came in that weekend just for Fatburger. They ended up staying and partying with the girls.
ED: What’s the best part of your job? What’s the most challenging part?
BATELY: The best part is interacting with staff, guests and entertainers. I’m not the GM that sits in the office and watches from on high; I go out and seat people and talk to them; I’m present. And the best part can be the most challenging part, as well. Because if they are disgruntled, they’ll come up to the first person they see, which can sometimes be me. I find out what’s going on, which helps a lot. I get to observe from many different perspectives.
Another challenge is that my job is 24/7. I’m here today, during the day, dealing with issues as I was late last night. But I’m honored that Peter has entrusted me with the responsibility and I thrive on that challenge.
ED: What’s one aspect of your job that’s an unexpected reality, an obligation or responsibility that you wouldn’t have fathomed before becoming GM that’s second nature to you?
BATELY: I knew I’d put in a lot of time as GM, but I didn’t expect it to be a 24/7 responsibility. We’re not open 24 hours, but I’m always on call. Since we’re such a large facility, there’s always something going on. We have a whole facilities/maintenance department just for the building. So if a manager or staff member needs me, I must be ready to answer the phone or come down to the club. And that’s become 100% second nature.
“I’m not the GM that sits in the office and watches from on high; I go out and seat people and talk to them; I’m present. And the best part can be the most challenging part, as well. Because if they are disgruntled, they’ll come up to the first person they see, which can sometimes be me. I find out what’s going on, which helps a lot. I get to observe from many different perspectives.” — Marcus Bately
ED: What’s a quality or qualities you’ve acquired or refined working with Peter and George that’s helped you to become a better GM?
BATELY: I’ve learned from Peter to look at any question from various angles before coming up with a response or decision. And working with Peter and George, I’ve learned that trying many different approaches is OK. Previously, I might have rushed to judgment. Now, I take my time with everything; I explore all the possible questions I can ask to make an informed decision.
ED: If you had GMs from other clubs in a room and could share some advice, what would you like to tell them?
BATELY: Take your time. And believe in your vision for the place that you’re managing. Then, surround yourself with good management and staff, and take accountability for that. Then your staff will take accountability for their positions.
Larry Kaplan has for 22 years been the Legal Correspondent for ED Publications. In addition, Mr. Kaplan is a business broker in the sale and purchase of adult nightclubs and adult retail stores and the Executive Director of the ACE of Michigan adult nightclub state trade association. Contact Larry Kaplan: at 313- 815-3311 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.