Navigating Change in the Night

In this blog, we explore a new way of integrating community-based technology to improve the safety and enjoyment of nighttime industries.

Published by Hamish Kerry

The year is winding down, and for most cities in the UK, that means one thing; busy season. Between work do’s, Christmas parties and last-minute catch-ups to close out the new year, city centres around the country are bouncing.

But this year, reports are spelling a less than-optimistic forecast for small businesses within the hospitality sector. Last week, The Guardian reported on a cautious picture for the 2023 festive season. Despite some signs of recovery, the lasting effects of the pandemic, along with external factors like the cost of living crisis and global conflicts, have impacted spending habits. While there are positive indicators, such as a 3% sales increase in London, there's a contrasting 2.5% decrease outside the capital. Leaders of major hospitality businesses express optimism, but independent businesses report a decline in bookings and pessimism. 

Additionally, the NTIA cites an increase in the shuttering of nightclubs in their 2023/24 manifesto “Darkest before the Dawn”, stating 31% of the sector had been erased in the last 3 years. 

As patrons tighten their budgets amidst a lingering cost of living crisis, there are growing calls for governmental reforms in legislating and managing the nighttime economy. While policy changes may be beyond our control, we believe there are technological solutions to address common challenges faced by patrons and hospitality staff.

Firstly, let’s examine the current landscape from a consumer perspective:

This year, Get Licensed UK published a report that delves into the best nights out in the UK, presenting a comprehensive evaluation based on an array of factors. This report captures the essence of the nightlife scene, considering aspects such as population density, the number of bars and clubs per 100,000 people, beer prices per pint, the Numbeo safety index score, concerns related to mugging and hate crimes, safety when walking home at night and an overall night-out score.

There are benefits and drawbacks to capturing data in this way:


  • Current Information: By providing data from 2023, the report ensures relevance and accuracy in capturing the latest trends and developments in the UK's nightlife landscape.

  • Comprehensive Metrics: The report stands out for its thorough examination, incorporating a diverse set of metrics. From demographic considerations to safety indices, it offers a blanket view of what makes a night out enjoyable.


  • Limited Venue Types: While the report excels in covering traditional nightlife establishments, it falls short by not considering the presence of supportive venues such as licensed restaurants. This omission may result in a somewhat narrow portrayal of the diverse options available to nightlife enthusiasts.

  • Transport Access: The report overlooks the critical aspect of transportation access, neglecting to explore how easily individuals can navigate between venues. Accessibility can significantly impact the overall experience, and its absence from the evaluation leaves a gap in the understanding of some of the practical aspects of a night out.

  • Closing Times and Licensing: The report doesn’t consider the closing times of venues and the prevalence of late licensing, crucial elements that shape the rhythm and duration of a night out.

By examining the list in this light, we can see there are several extraneous factors that come into play when considering the success of a city’s nightlife from a consumer perspective. 

With little in the way of assessment for accessibility needs, late transport and the staggering of closing times, we risk boxing patrons into a very stringent profile, one who is able-bodied, goes home when the majority of clubs and bars are closing and lives near urban centres. 

In addition, summaries of safety-related data are expressed in extremes. The study uses terms like “serious” and “violent”, but safety is a much broader spectrum. 

On patrons 

In assessing what constitutes a "good night out," it is imperative to recognize the diverse spectrum of patrons and their unique needs and priorities. Patrons exhibit a wide range of characteristics, from varying group sizes and backgrounds to distinct accessibility requirements and situational needs. 

It's crucial to understand that not all patrons adhere to a uniform profile—some may not wish to conclude their night out when the majority of clubs close at 2 am, prompting considerations for patron safety well into the night. Unfortunately, accessibility data for venues is not consistently available, making it challenging for individuals with specific needs to make informed choices about their night out. Additionally, LGBTQIA+ venues, sometimes located on the outer perimeter of urban cores, require special attention to safety, especially concerning crossing areas of cities, particularly where areas of development are positioned which may not be well-lit or otherwise occupied into the evening.

The potential hazards associated with losing one's group during a night out, exacerbated by intoxication, underscore the importance of addressing safety concerns comprehensively to ensure a positive and secure experience for all patrons.

Solutions for patrons

A multifunctional mobile application could revolutionise the nightlife experience by addressing diverse patron needs. This app would integrate real-time accessibility data, enabling users to make informed decisions based on individual requirements. 

Additionally, it could provide dynamic information on venue closing times for those who prefer extended nightlife hours, fostering a flexible and inclusive experience. Incorporating safety mapping features, the app would ensure the well-being of LGBTQIA+ patrons by highlighting secure routes and potential hazards, especially when accessing venues on the perimeter of city centres or in areas of diminished lighting/occupancy. 

To prevent the common issue of losing one's group, the app could offer a location-based service for real-time sharing, aiding easy reunification and enhancing safety for intoxicated or disoriented patrons. 

The application would also feature a community-driven review platform, allowing users to share insights on accessibility, safety and overall enjoyment, promoting inclusivity within the nightlife community.


On Clubs, Bars and Restaurants

For bar managers, club managers, restaurant managers and owners, as well as nightlife authorities, a comprehensive mobile application that caters to diverse patron needs offers several advantages. Firstly, it provides an opportunity for venue managers to showcase their accessibility features, creating a more inclusive environment and attracting a broader clientele. The real-time information on venue closing times helps managers optimise staffing and resource allocation for extended nightlife hours, potentially increasing revenue.

The safety mapping features within the app address a crucial concern for both venue managers and authorities. By highlighting secure routes and potential hazards, it contributes to overall patron safety, reducing the risk of incidents around venues, and potentially lowering security costs for establishments.

For restaurant owners and LGBTQIA+ venue managers located on the outer perimeter of city centres, the app's emphasis on safety mapping becomes particularly valuable. It aids in addressing concerns related to crossing areas, ensuring that patrons can access these venues safely, thereby encouraging foot traffic to establishments that might have otherwise been perceived as less accessible.

The location-based service for real-time sharing within the app not only benefits patrons but also assists venue managers and security teams in managing and ensuring the safety of their patrons, especially during peak hours or special events. This feature addresses the practical challenges faced by managers in crowded or dynamic environments.

Lastly, the community-driven review platform serves as a valuable tool for venue managers and owners to gauge the experiences of patrons. Positive reviews can boost a venue's reputation, while constructive feedback offers insights into areas that may need improvement. This information is invaluable for making strategic decisions to enhance the overall patron experience, contributing to customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Localised Communication Between Member Venues

Effective communication among local authorities, transport operators and venue owners/managers is vital for a safe nightlife environment. A localised, membership-based platform can streamline this collaboration.

A platform, with real-time alerts and event coordination features, facilitates seamless communication and ensures efficient information sharing. It could enable stakeholders to address safety concerns, coordinate events and share data for informed decision-making. This focused approach could foster a more vibrant and secure nightlife scene.


The UK's festive season brings bustling city centres, but a cautious forecast looms for small hospitality businesses due to the pandemic's lasting effects and external factors including the cost of living crisis. A multifunctional mobile app is proposed to address diverse patron needs, providing real-time accessibility data, dynamic venue information, safety mapping and a community-driven review platform. This technology would aim to enhance safety, inclusivity and overall satisfaction for patrons. Improved communication between local authorities, transport operators and venue owners via a localised membership platform is also a viable option for helping ensure a safe, vibrant and profitable nightlife.


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