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by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

US Senate Fails to Replenish the RRF

US Senate Fails to Replenish the RRF

by David Klemt

United States Capitol Building exterior and blue sky

After conflicting reports and speculation, the US Senate has finally voted this week on replenishing the Restaurant Revitalization Fund.

Last week, multiple sources reported that the Senate would hold their RRF vote this week. Just days ago, several outlets sounded the alarm, reporting that the vote would be pushed to next week. The reason, these sources provided, was the Senate’s scramble to repackage and hold another vote on aid for Ukraine.

Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) blocked the bill that would provide $40 billion in defense and humanitarian aid. Unsurprisingly, it was also Sen. Paul who objected to $43 billion in emergency funding last August, killing that RRF replenishment effort.

Today, on the Senate floor, Sen. Paul repeatedly derided the replenishment of the RRF as a “bailout.” Additionally, he asked, “Where’s the emergency?”

So, one can infer that the impending closure of an estimated 50 percent of RRF applicants—88,500—isn’t an emergency to the Kentucky senator. Simple math shows that if each of those applicants has just ten employees, that’s a loss of 885,000 jobs.

Rightfully so, people throughout the industry have been more than a little concerned that the bill would receive at least 60 “yea” votes today.

At issue is where the funds would come from. While Democrats view replenishing the RRF as emergency funding, Republicans prefer to reallocate existing funds.

Senate Fails to Replenish RRF

Today’s vote was a long time coming. In fact, it’s just days shy of one year since the RRF application portal closed.

Now, after a 223 to 203 vote in the House to replenish RRF, our senators have failed us. The resulting vote was 52 to 43, falling short of the 60 “yeas” necessary

I’m not despondent over this news. Honestly, I think I’ve made it rather clear that our politicians failing us wouldn’t at all surprise me. Yet I still find myself incredibly disappointed.

Disappointed in how the RRF was handled, disappointed in the grant approval process, disappointed in how emergency funding was blocked, and disappointed in how we were left out of the Biden administration’s Build Back Better and March omnibus bills.

And gravely disillusioned now that I’ve finally learned how little many of our senators care about us. Hospitality is an industry that employed nearly 17 million people in 2019. In terms of revenue, we’re projected by the National Restaurant Association to generate almost $900 billion in sales.

Not enough, it’s clear, for a majority of senators to vote to replenish the RRF.

However, I’m mostly dismayed for the owners and operators who have waited a year just to have this lifeline yanked from their fingertips. Today’s failure in the Senate puts millions of jobs at risk.

Underfunded from the Start

For those who found themselves in RRF limbo, the wait for this vote has been agonizing.

The RRF application portal opened May 3, 2021. Initially, the process looked promising. For the first 21 days, the Small Business Administration announced, priority would be granted to small businesses with a minimum of 51 percent ownership by women, veterans or socially disadvantaged people.

However, the SBA closed the portal immediately after processing only about 101,000 priority applications, or one-third of applicants. So, ever since May 24 of last year, “non-priority” applicants have been left wondering if they’d ever receive an RRF grant.

In addition to the premature closure of the application process, the RRF was woefully underfunded. Clearly, that point was driven home when $75 billion in applications were submitted to a fund with just $28.6 billion.

So, the quick closure and unrealistic funding meant that out of the over 362,000 initial applicants, around 177,000 have been watching and waiting.

A Year-long Wait

Shortly after the RRF portal was closed, a number of Republican members of Congress sent a letter to the SBA. Per the contents of the letter, non-priority applicants wouldn’t receive grants or have the opportunity to apply for grants.

Indeed, those applicants stuck in RRF limbo have been waiting for relief for just days shy of a year. And that’s only counting the days since the portal closed. Operators across the industry, not just those who applied for RRF grants, have been scratching and clawing to stave off insolvency and closures.

Advocates such as the Independent Restaurant Coalition have been sounding the alarm. RRF applicants could be just days away from bankruptcy and needed the government to act. To be brutally honest, relief may still come too late for many applicants.

Congress has certainly had the time to vote on and replenish the RRF. In June 2021, Sens. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) and Roger Wicker (R-MS), and Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-PA) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) introduced the RRF Replenishment Act bill. In July, Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MO) introduced an alternative bill, the ENTREE Act.

Of course, as we well know, an attempt in August to replenish the RRF with $43 billion in emergency funding was blocked by Sen. Paul. In November, Build Back Better was passed. Obviously, the RRF and our industry were left out the $1.7 trillion dollar bill. Likewise, we weren’t included in March’s $1.5 trillion omnibus spending bill.

Left Out In the Cold

So, of $3.2 trillion dollars in massive bills passed, zero were earmarked for us.

Today, our senators voted 86 to 11 for $40 billion in aid for Ukraine. However, they voted 52 to 43 to provide $40 billion in aid to American restaurants and bars.

Last month, eleven months after the portal closed, the House voted to replenish the RRF. That left the final push to the Senate.

And today, at least 43 senators made their low opinion of us known.

Image: Alejandro Barba on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Drinks for Your World Whisky Day Menu

Drinks for Your World Whisky Day Menu

by David Klemt

Whiskey in Fine & Rare NYC glass

This Saturday is the eleventh annual celebration of World Whisky Day, the perfect day to highlight your whisky and cocktail menus.

One revenue-generating method of drawing in guests is a promotion showcasing popular, lesser-known, or rare whiskies. Operators can also create a whisky and beer combo promotion.

Of course, there’s also the specialty cocktail menu. There are a few different approaches to this promotion.

An operator and their bar team can focus on one specific cocktail, offering three or four “takes” on it. Another way to make this work is to take the same cocktail and feature a different whisky in each one.

A different approach is to create a World Whisky Day menu consisting of three or more of the most popular whisky cocktails. To help you identify which drinks to feature we looked into the top whisky drinks. Check them out below.

Old Fashioned

C’mon—you knew this was going to be on the list before you read past the title of this article. Drinks Digest ranked the Old Fashioned the number-one cocktail of 2021.

VinePair‘s list didn’t rank their most-popular cocktails overtly but this classic got its expected mention.

Manhattan

Just like the Old Fashioned, you expected this drink to make this list. While it can certainly be made with bourbon or an array of single malt American whiskies, the Manhattan shines when made with rye.

Whisky Sour

As Drinks International points out, the Whisky Sour may not be the top drink in most bars. In fact, it may not make it into their top three.

However, the simple but refreshing Whisky Sour is at least in the top ten of several bars, making it a solid choice for your specialty menu.

Boulevardier

Want to get some of the cocktail aficionados among your guests to flip out? Tell them loudly and confidently that the Boulevardier is better than the Negroni. That’ll certainly get them talking.

Or, hey, don’t do that. Just perfect this bourbon cocktail, a cousin of the Negroni, and highlight your build for World Whisky Day.

Mint Julep

The Kentucky Derby may be over but summer is just around the corner. People are still craving this centuries-old cocktail and VinePair called it “essential” last year.

Sazerac

Like many classics, the Sazerac was “medicinal” when it was first created in the 1830s. In 2008, this drink was made the official cocktail of New Orleans by the Louisiana state legislature.

The Sazerac is another cocktail recipe that VinePair said was an essential one for bars in 2021.

Vieux Carré

It’s difficult to overstate the important role New Orleans has played and continues to play in American cocktail culture.

The recipe, created about 100 years after the Sazerac, combines American whisky (rye, traditionally), Cognac, Bénédictine, sweet vermouth, and Peychaud’s bitters.

Penicillin

Created by Sam Ross when he was behind the stick at Milk & Honey, this is my favorite whisky cocktail. The recipe was one of Punch’s most popular last year, and it was on Drinks International’s top 50 list for 2021.

On a personal note, this is one of my all-time favorite whisky cocktails. In fact, the Penicillin is one of my favorite cocktails in general.

Honorable Mentions

These may not be top sellers for most bars (if any) but they’re worth consideration for World Whisky Day.

The Chauncey is a 1:1:1:1 combination of rye whisky, Cognac, gin, and sweet vermouth plus two dashes of orange bitters, served up.

Of course, there’s also the Mule, which lends itself to an incredible number of riffs. Select a whisky or two to come up with specialty Mules of your own.

Irish whisky stands out in an Irish coffee, which can be served iced/frozen when it’s hot outside.

And then we have the Rob Roy. If you want to be glib about it, this is a Manhattan made with Scotch rather than rye whisky.

Your Own Data

There’s an excellent resource for determining what drinks to feature at your restaurant or bar. It’s quite literally at your fingertips: your POS.

If you want to know what your guests are drinking and what they want, run a report.

How deep you get into the data is up to you, of course. Monthly, quarterly, seasonally, annually… There are myriad methods to determine your World Whisky Day’s best options.

Sure, you can probably safely assume that your top whisky cocktails are the same as those above. But why not be absolutely certain with your own data? You invest money and time into your POS—wring everything you can out of it.

Also, your bar team and servers. Ask them what whiskies guests have been asking for that you don’t have.

Use your POS to identify the whiskies gathering dust in your stockroom, then find a way to move them quickly (a well-priced LTO should work) and replace them with what guests want.

Image: YesMore Content on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

How Big Brands Can Help Small Brands

How Big Hotel Brands Can Help Small Hospitality Brands

by David Klemt

Upward perspective shot of skyscrapers

The intriguing topic of big hotel brands helping smaller hospitality businesses grow came up during HD Expo 2022.

Several speakers spoke about serving and improving local communities. However, established brands can also help local business communities.

Job creation can take place outside of a big brand’s four walls, for example. But going even further, smaller independent brands can also receive a lift from big brands.

As we all grapple with what business can be moving forward, some in hospitality are proposing operating with a purpose.

Conversations Help

Everyone with several years of experience in this industry has seen some things. That’s putting it lightly, most likely.

That is to say, hospitality professionals gain metric tons of useful experience working in this industry. As we know, experience and knowledge are incredibly valuable in business.

Great mentors help others by sharing their knowledge with others. They gain that knowledge—at least in part—through experience. That means that time is truly invaluable.

So, when’s the last time you shared your knowledge with someone outside your business’ four walls?

Damon Lawrence is the co-founder of Homage Hospitality, the first Black-owned hotel brand. As he said during HD Expo 2022, honoring and engaging a given community requires time and effort. This includes engaging with the community’s business owners.

According to Lawrence, just mentoring people and providing what you’ve learned in this industry for free can help small businesses.

Now, it may sound too simple to say that sharing information is enough to help a small operator. However, what seems like a small nudge in the right direction can be powerful.

It may seem inconsequential to an established, large brand operator or executive. But you may be holding the piece of the puzzle that will show a smaller operator their next step.

Giving someone a few moments of valuable time can lead to a flourishing local business community, which in turn helps the community at large thrive.

Active Development

The managing director of Horwath HTL, Todd Wynne-Parry, pointed out the old hotel and resort model during HD Expo 2022. For decades, the approach was to keep each guest on property for as much of their stay as possible.

Now, as Wynne-Parry says, the aim is to encourage guests to explore the areas surrounding hotels and resorts.

With that in mind, hotel groups and designers are seeking to create destination properties. Almost by default, that requires the community to become a destination as well.

As far as Crystal Vinisse Thomas, a VP at Hyatt Hotels, is concerned, that means global hospitality brands need learn to work with small businesses.

If a hotel brand really wants to engage the community, featuring local brands is a powerful strategy. Doing so not only resonates with locals, it provides a more authentic experience for travelers.

However, meeting the demands of a hotel can prove daunting for a small business. So, while it may seem like a great idea to design a space for a local coffee shop to operate out of, they may not be able to afford the initial outlay.

Vinisse Thomas recommends big hotel brands lower the cost of entry for small businesses to work with them.

Larger brands can also actively help accelerate the growth of small businesses. If a big hotel brand isn’t interested or capable of acting as an incubator, they can still help entrepreneurs.

Again, removing barriers to entry or lowering the costs of entry is a great start. Hotel brands can also create grant programs to develop smaller hospitality businesses.

There was a lot of talk about community during HD Expo 2022. Global brands need to take the next steps to ensure it wasn’t all talk.

Image: Samson on Unsplash

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Is Your Brand Engaging the Community?

Is Your Brand Engaging the Community?

by David Klemt

Sign on wall that reads, "We like you too"

Many speakers at HD Expo 2022 are focusing on an important element of design and the hospitality industry: the people we serve.

In other words, designers, their collaborative partners, and their clients want to engage communities.

Now, it’s true that HD Expo 2022 speakers were mainly talking about the hotel side of hospitality design. However, much of what they have to say on the subject of community relates to restaurant and bar projects as well.

Below are helpful insights into engaging the community your business operates in and serves.

Valuing the Community

Crystal Vinisse Thomas, vide president and global brand leader of lifestyle and luxury brands for Hyatt Hotels is bringing Caption by Hyatt to life.

A core element of Caption is community engagement. Yes, travelers are crucial to the success of a hotel brand. However, so are the locals.

After all, hotels, restaurants, and bars employ people from the community. Engaging the community leads to the creation of a loyal guests. During slower times, those loyal locals keep those registers ringing.

As Vinisse Thomas says, operators need to focus on locals as much as travelers. Further, she defines her approach to community as creating a space that’s open to everyone.

One way that Caption is staying true to Vinisse Thomas and Hyatt’s vision for the brand is the Talk Shop. As the name suggests, this is a hangout space. Talk Shop is a communal workspace, a a restaurant, a coffee shop… It’s a hangout for everyone, hotel guest or community guest.

However, Vinisse Thomas does admit that there are challenges when designing and operating for community engagement. One of those challenges is scalability.

Then there’s another big challenge. Designing and operating with the community in mind looks great on paper. But there’s no guarantee that this approach will give an operator an edge of the competition.

To that point, Vinisse Thomas suggests it may be best to speak with one’s competitors to partner on community engagement efforts.

Honoring the Community

An additional challenge when attempting to engage a community is authenticity. It’s a great buzzword, as Vinisse Thomas says, but it needs to be more than that.

Dyonne Fashina, principal of Denizens of Design, has some thoughts on community engagement and authenticity.

Putting it bluntly, Fashina says that honoring a community requires more than a Google search. Rather, designers and operators need to spend time in a given community. They need to get to know the people, the culture, and the vibe.

At KRG Hospitality, we agree. One of our services is site selection. We conduct intensive research to identify the best site for a concept.

However, operator clients need to ensure they know the location. Not just the ZIP code, not just the address, not just the cross streets—the community.

After KRG identifies ideal sites, the client should spend time in those communities, speaking with the people who live and work in them.

Fashina also has another excellent piece of advice for operators. The project, as we often say at KRG, isn’t over after the grand opening. Fashina’s advice speaks to that point.

If an element of an operator’s business isn’t working for the community, she says, they need to be flexible enough to fix it. For owners who perhaps don’t spend every day inside their business or businesses, Fashina recommends visiting to analyze community engagement.

Hospitality is about service, and service requires commitment to being a responsible host and steward. To that end, operators should ensure their concepts improve communities rather than exploit them.

Image: Adam Jang on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

TOTC 2022 Agenda and Tickets Now Live

Tales of the Cocktail 2022 Conference Agenda and Tickets Now Available

by David Klemt

Greetings from NOLA artwork

The time is now to grab your Tales of the Cocktail tickets and plan your trip to New Orleans for the last week of July.

Not only are tickets available for purchase via this link right now, you can also check out the schedule here.

Of particular note is the amount of complimentary programming available to 20th anniversary TOTC attendees.

Free to Attend

Attendees will have access to several activations and workshops that are free to attend.

Beginning Sunday, complimentary programming is available throughout the week. For example, the Day of Service on Sunday, July 24 is free attend and a way to give back.

Also on Sunday, the 11th annual Pig & Punch Volunteer Day of Service. This is another opportunity for those in the industry to do some good in the NOLA community.

The return of Pig & Punch was mentioned by an excited Lola Thomas on episode 72 of the Bar Hacks podcast.

On Monday, all attendees can attend the keynote address; Diversity Distilled Career Fair; the Welcome to Wellness! therapeutic stretch and self-massage session; and “#FromTheBarToTheFarm” sustainability workshop.

There are several more workshops—such as “Safe Bars: Crafting a New Culture of Safety and Respect” and the immersive “Mind Full” experience—that are free to attend on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Incredible Activations

More reasons to plan your trip around an action-packed Sunday? Speed Rack Redemption, the National Tequila Day Pool Party at the Royal Sonesta, and Ode to the Bowl.

The rest of the week is absolutely packed. From workshops to seminars, cocktail tours to tasting rooms, and all manner of activations, parties, and events in between, the 20th anniversary celebration of Tales of the Cocktail will be an experience to remember.

On the subject of cocktail tours, there are eight such experiences available during this year’s Tales. For example, attendees can register and secure tickets for Hunting Down the Sazerac, Downriver: Bars Beyond the French Quarter, the Big Gay Bar Tour, and Bourbon Street and How it Got that Way.

Learn More

To be honest, there’s simply too much going on at this year’s TOTC to list here. The sheer number of workshops, seminars, and activations must be checked out online.

And that’s to say nothing of the industry icons that will be presenting seminars and workshops, and hosting activations and special events.

Simply put, there’s programming for everyone. Health and wellness? Yes. Furthering your career? Absolutely. Perfecting technique and tasting new products? Of course. Business, culture, advocacy, diversity, inclusion, equity… Check, check, check, check, check, check!

We hope to see you at Tales of the Cocktail 2022! Be sure to check out the agenda and grab your tickets today.

Image: mana5280 on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

The 2022 Hospitality Design Forecast

The 2022 Hospitality Design Forecast

by David Klemt

Perspective shot of neon hotel sign

Four 2022 HD Expo panelists are focusing on very specific design elements and considerations informing the future of hospitality design.

It should come as no surprise that their industry forecasts embody the themes of this year’s hospitality design show.

In fact, each panelist appears to be embracing the overall theme: Community. For these experts, designers must be mindful of their impact on communities.

Sustainable Practices

Enrique Vela, director of interiors at Olson Kundig, prefers the term “performance building” to sustainability. At Olson Kundig, performance building informs every stage of each project.

Further, the firm doesn’t focus solely on their approach to sustainable design, construction, and operation. According to Vela, Olson Kundig wants to know how their vendors approach sustainability as well.

And going even further, Vela and the firm want to see a commitment in sustainability (or performance building) from their clients. On that front, Olson Kundig’s are showing more interest in sustainability.

The firm’s desire to see commitment from their clients makes sense. After all, getting close to net zero during a build is difficult in the best of conditions. If a client has a laissez-faire attitude toward a core design tenet, the project isn’t off to a great start.

Andrew Lieberman, design director at AvroKO, seems to take a similar view as Vela and Olson Kundig.

As Lieberman sees it, “the entire ecosystem is impacted by a project.” Therefore, social consciousness needs to be a core element of a project.

Per Lieberman, he and AvroKO are seeing an increase in interest in sustainability from clients.

Focus on Wellness

Meghann Day, partner at Hirsch Bedner Associates, is seeing the interest in wellness proliferating beyond the hospitality space. HBA’s multi-family projects are incorporating wellness amenities into design in increasingly prominent ways.

For instance, clients are showing interest in infrared saunas and other cutting-edge wellness features in their homes. Per Day, wellness is quickly steering away from taking up a corner in a space and driving toward inhabiting entire floors.

Why should hospitality designers care about what’s going on in residential design? Simple: Hotels and resorts are homes away from home. In fact, they’re also becoming offices away from home offices.

What people want in their homes (and workspaces) they also want—and expect—from the hotels and resorts they visit.

For now, HBA is seeing the growth in wellness through traditional amenities. However, new elements will become more common in the near future.

Lieberman and AvroKO are also experiencing increasing interest in wellness design features. This interest is coming from the firm’s clients, meaning guests and residents are seeking out wellness amenities.

Community Engagement

Interestingly, the panelists have a clear interest in off-premises service. And no, I’m not referring to F&B delivery or offering guests local experiences.

Rather, today’s designers are enthusiastically designing for the communities in which they and their clients are building.

As Vela sees it, designers must consider the community. For him, engaging the community is crucial to a project’s success. The reasoning is simple: A project is inarguably tapping into the build site’s culture, heritage, history, and people.

For Lieberman, wellness and sustainability in the hospitality space combine feeling good, doing good, and impacting the community. A community is its own ecosystem, and that ecosystem is impacted by a designer and their client’s project.

Another way of viewing a hotel or resort is that it’s a portal into the community, per Lieberman.

He and Vela believe a project will be far more engaging if the community and its culture are honored through its design. As Vela says, we create the best memories when all of our sense are engaged.

F&B Memberships

While not a large focus of this HD Expo 2022 panel, food and beverage did come up. However, it didn’t focus just on people’s desire to return to restaurants.

For example, Lieberman is seeing interest in F&B memberships. In his version, a membership space lives within the main restaurant. For these spaces, designers and operators can go overt or covert.

In one example, the members-only space is accessed via the main dining room. That means guests without memberships can see the members going to their exclusive space. In turn, that should generate interest in memberships.

On the opposite end, a membership space could be kept secret. Loyal guests may not know about these memberships and spaces for months or years.

Either way, the key to executing these spaces is creative, multi-faceted design, according to Lieberman.

Another way to use F&B spaces comes from Day. This downtime solution is simple and can generate much-needed revenue.

As Day explains, the approach is similar to that of a WeWork space. The operator creates a WeWork-like membership. During slow hours, these members have access to the restaurant.

Their membership entitles them to WiFI and menu access. Members would still pay for F&B items, but at a discount.

Technology

When it comes to technology, Ken Patel and EV Hotel are taking things as far as possible without turning off guests.

Patel is the founder and CEO of EV Hotel, and he has nearly three decades in the industry. Three years ago he had the vision for what is now EV Hotel.

Putting his view of hotel design and tech bluntly, he says that the only innovation in this space has been replacing small TVs with bigger versions. That may seem harsh, but consider what Patel is really saying: Hospitality, in his opinion, isn’t innovating fast enough.

Well, that’s certainly not the case with EV Hotel.

EV has launched the world’s first crypto rewards program. They’re the first hotel group to enter the metaverse fully built, and they operate the first-ever crypto trade floor. What’s more, Patel predicts that the metaverse will be an $8 trillion industry in a mere six years.

According to Patel, each EV Hotel room contains between 15 and 18 brand-specific tech developments. And while they may not have a dedicated fitness center, EV features an interactive exercise bike studio.

Now, it may seem at first glance that EV is developing and implementing tech innovations simply for the sake of doing so. However, Patel would argue against that perception of his brand.

“We have to match innovation to technology,” he says. That means reducing the amount of tasks employees take on that have nothing to do with serving guests directly.

Automating backend tasks allows EV team members—they all carry the title experience employee—to focus much more on the hospitality experience for guests. And a greater focus on hospitality means a greater focus on personalized experiences.

Takeaway

Thoughtful design that combines wellness, sustainability, and technology will not only serve communities, it will build them as well.

There’s the community in which a hotel or resort operates and which it must take care to honor and serve. There’s the community of employees serving guests and the community at large. And there’s the community of guests that frequent the property.

The future of hospitality design is looking bright, indeed.

Image: Francesco Ungaro

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

SevenRooms Reveals Hotel Guest Study

SevenRooms Reveals Hotel Guest Study Results

by David Klemt

Male passenger with suitcase at airport

Americans eager to get back to normal and make up for lost time are traveling in droves, and hotels will have to adapt in order to earn their business.

To give hotel and resort operators an edge, SevenRooms today reveals the results of their latest study.

“Booking Behaviors: Exploring Hotel Guest Loyalty,” contains datapoints all hotel operators should know.

The report, a collaboration with YouGov, focuses on two types of travelers.

Competitive Incentives

Before I address the who, let’s take a look at data that highlights the what.

According to the SevenRooms and YouGov report, nearly half of consumers say that loyalty programs are important. Per SevenRooms, loyalty programs influence hotel choice for 44 percent of guests.

Regarding American hotel guests specifically, 34 percent of guests will consider rebooking if their loyalty status receives recognition upon check-in.

However, loyalty status recognition isn’t enough for guests to book a hotel again. To understand what will influence that decision we need to take a look at SevenRooms’ traveler types.

Leisure

SevenRooms and YouGov look at two travelers for their report. There’s the Personal Patron and the Business Traveler.

Let’s focus on the former first. Per SevenRooms, to say the Personal Patron is eager to return to travel is an understatement.

The Personal Patron is a leisure traveler who has been climbing their walls for more than two years. They’re planning to travel “with a vengeance” this summer.

Diving deeper, the Personal Patron is most probably a female over the age of 35.

While recognizing this traveler for their loyalty program membership is smart, it’s not enough to influence a rebook. Rather, the Personal Patron places greater value on:

  • receiving more loyalty program points in exchange for dining and drinking at property-operated restaurants and bars;
  • enhanced credit card rewards; and
  • earning dining credits upon reaching a new loyalty program tier.

However, there’s a problem inherent to the Personal Patron and loyalty programs. Just 45 percent—so nearly half—of this traveler type are loyalty program members.

The reason for that low program buy-in? Almost 60 percent don’t think they travel enough to benefit from hotel loyalty programs.

Per SevenRooms, there’s a rather simple solution: local benefits. Tempt Personal Patrons with staycations and access to amenities at hotels in their home markets. Another idea is to offer points exclusively for dining that this traveler can use where they live.

Business

Obviously, the business traveler is now different. In fact, SevenRooms considers two versions of the Business Traveler.

On the one hand, there’s the extended-stay version traveling all over the country. And on the second hand, there’s the long-distance Business Traveler who’s seeking a midweek “home base” hotel.

Either way, the Business Traveler is most likely a male aged 18 to 34.

Per SevenRooms—and as most hotel operators likely know—this traveler probably doesn’t have time (or interest) in exploring off property. Therefore, the Business Traveler can be influenced to rebook through incentives that make their stays better.

These include:

  • receiving more loyalty program points in exchange for dining and drinking at property-operated restaurants and bars (like the Personal Patron);
  • receiving recognition for being a loyalty program member; and
  • getting a complimentary drink on check-in; or
  • being given a choice of an F&B amenity on arrival.

Unsurprisingly, the Business Traveler is more likely than the Personal Patron to join a hotel loyalty program. Per SevenRooms, 55 percent of Business Travelers say that the ability to participate in such a program influences their hotel choice.

Focusing on perks that “reward” the Business Traveler for their hard work can convert a Business Traveler to become a loyal guest for a particular hotel or hotel group.

SevenRooms suggests priority reservations for the lunch daypart at restaurants on property. Also, providing their favorite drink (wine, cocktail, beer, etc.) with their room service orders can be influential.

Takeaway

Travel is gaining steam, restaurants and bars are seeing an influx of reservations, and hotel operators need to prepare for summer travelers.

As a reservation, guest experience, and guest retention platform, SevenRooms can ensure operators can easily collect guest data. Guest data, for example, like F&B and room preferences.

More importantly, the platform makes it simple to use that data responsibly, effectively, and simply.

To learn more about SevenRooms, click here.

Image: JESHOOTS.COM on Unsplash

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5 Books to Read this Month: May 2022

5 Books to Read this Month: May 2022

by David Klemt

Flipping through an open book

These engaging and informative book selections will help you develop next-level beverage skills and motivate you throughout May, 2022.

To review February’s book recommendations, click here.

Let’s jump in!

Rum Rebels: A Celebration of Women Revolutionizing the Spirits Industry

Written by authors Martyna Halas and René van Hoven, Rum Rebels raises a glass to women in the rum world. Readers will learn the inspiring stories of Lorena Vasquez from Zacapa, Joy Spence of Appleton, and more women driving rum forward and shaping this iconic spirit’s flavors, aromas, and textures.

In addition, this book serves as a masterclass in rum production, from tasting to aging. And since that’s enough for these incredible and ambitious authors, Rum Rebels also contains rum cocktail recipes.

Drink Lightly: A Lighter Take on Serious Cocktails

Operators, bar managers, and bartenders should see value in the driving ethos behind this cocktail book. Drink Lightly, authored by Nitecap bartender Natasha David, pairs precision drink-building techniques with a relaxed drinking experience.

Drinking lightly doesn’t mean sipping drinks bereft of complexity and depth. Along with 100 recipes, readers will enjoy a foreword by Alex Day of Proprietors LLC, whose concepts include Death & Co. and Nitecap.

Call Me Chef, Dammit!: A Veteran’s Journey from the Rural South to the White House

Hospitality is rooted in sacrifice and a commitment to serving others. Chef Andre Rush and his story embody service. Call Me Chef, Dammit! is the inspiring story of Chef Rush.

The storied chef has led an incredible life which includes a career in the US Army that spanned 24 years, advocating for military personnel and veterans, and winning multiple awards as a chef. Oh, and Chef Rush and his 24-inch biceps have also worked in the White House for four US presidents.

While there are no recipes in this book, there is one hell of an inspiring story in these pages.

The New Kindred Spirits: Over 2,000 All-New Reviews of Whiskeys, Brandies, Liqueurs, Gins, Vodkas, Tequilas, Mezcal & Rums from F. Paul Pacult’s Spirit Journal

Anyone looking for a spirits bible need search no further. F. Paul Pacult’s The New Kindred Spirits includes over 2,400 in-depth reviews spanning a wide range of spirits. This tome evaluates a massive number of brandies, gins, liqueurs, rums, tequilas, vodkas, and whiskeys.

This all-encompassing compilation of spirit evaluations doesn’t just cover the usual suspects. The New Kindred Spirits also takes a deep dive into the craft side of the beverage industry.

Drinking & Knowing Things

Author and certified sommelier Michael Amon would like to know a couple things from those considering picking up Drinking & Knowing Things. “Do you want to uncork a bottle of whoop-ass on every winedouche and uppity sommelier?” And, “are you too lazy to spend any time whatsoever learning things?”

Anyone who answered “yes” to either or both questions needs this book. Amon says that readers who commit to spending five minutes reading the weekly wine recommendations found in Drinking & Knowing Things will give sommeliers a run for their wine-knowledge money. Wine intimidation? Not after reading this book.

Image: Mikołaj on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Stand Out with Weird Holidays: May 2022

Stand Out with Weird Holidays: May 2022

by David Klemt

Stay Weird neon sign with purple background

Want to stand out from from other restaurants and bars in your area? Then commit to keeping it weird.

Several “holidays” are set against every date on the calendar, and May is no exception. These holidays range from mainstream to “weird.”

Pay attention to the latter to raise eyebrows, carve out a niche for your restaurant or bar, and attract more guests. Why do what everyone else is already doing?

Of course, you shouldn’t try to celebrate every holiday, weird or otherwise. And this month’s list in no way includes every odd holiday.

Focus on the days that are authentic to your brand; resonate with your guests; and help you grab attention on social media.

For last month’s list, click here.

May 3: National Two Different-colored Shoes Day

Promotions don’t need to be complicated to generate traffic, revenue, and social media engagement. Encourage guests and staff to wear mismatched shoes and program around that call to action.

May 6: International No Diet Day

The fact that this holiday comes at the start of the weekend is awesome. It’s Friday, this holiday is all about indulging food and drink cravings, and people want to get back out there after being unable to gather for more than two years. Put your most decadent F&B items front and center!

May 8: National Have a Coke Day

Are you a Coca-Cola account? If so, great—create specialty menu items using Coke and promote them.

Not a Coke account? Well…you can always take a play out of some of the cheeky QSR brands’ playbooks and counter-program on this holiday.

May 13: National Crouton Day

Ah, the mighty-but-mini crunchy treat that is the crouton. Not only are they great in soups and salads, they can be an appetizer or shareable on their own. Better yet, they’re easy to make in-house, such as the revered grilled cheese crouton.

May 16: National Sea-Monkey Day

As we pointed out last week, Datassential has identified drinks that evoke nostalgia are a trend to watch this year. The infamous Sea-Monkeys have been around since the 1960s and also resonate with ’70s, ’80s, and even ’90s kids.

May 17: National Graduation Tassel Day

Most colleges hold their graduations in May. So, if you operate a restaurant or bar in a college town, this is your time to shine. A simple food and/or drink promotion aimed at new graduates is an excellent way to drive traffic and generate much-needed dollars.

May 22: National Craft Distillery Day

You most likely have at least a few products from craft distilleries on your menu. This is the day to highlight them, particularly if they’re local to your business.

May 24: National Scavenger Hunt Day

There are a few ways to program for this holiday. One way, of course, is to focus on your own operation(s) and come up with a scavenger hunt that keeps guests on property.

However, you can also team up with surrounding businesses to create a multi-venue scavenger hunt that engages the entire community and drives business to small operators.

May 25: National Sing Out Day

Do you host karaoke? Are you operating a piano bar? What about a raucous supper club? If your restaurant or bar is set up for singalongs, this is the holiday for you.

May 30: National Creativity Day

Hey, guess what you should do on this holiday? Tap into you and your team members’ creativity and come up with a promotion that’s truly unique.

Image: Dan Parlante on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Key Themes from HD Expo 2022

Key Themes from HD Expo 2022

by David Klemt

Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino Las Vegas

The educational conference sessions at Hospitality Design Expo 2022 in Las Vegas were connected by a number of key, overarching themes.

Hosted by the Mandalay Bay Convention Center, HD Expo packed each day with invaluable education. Founders, designers, highly placed executives, and other influential industry professionals addressed a wide range of crucial topics.

Below are five key topics and themes from HD Expo 2022.

Sustainability

Unsurprisingly, sustainability was one of the most-discussed topics.

Of course, conversations about sustainable design, construction, and operational practices have been at the forefront of hospitality for several years now. However, the topic seemed supercharged this year at HD Expo.

Drilling down, speakers at the 2022 show are focusing on “building performance,” light-touch construction, and waste recovery, to name but a few session topics.

When some think about sustainability, they think of low- and no-waste practices, energy efficiency, and upcycling. For others, being sustainable means building in an eco-friendly or green way.

However, several HD Expo 2022 speakers, their teams and agencies, and their partners and clients are thinking more locally. The impact of building and operating on local communities is now a greater focus.

For example, Victor Body-Lawson, founder and principal of Body Lawson Associates Architects & Planners. During a panel he co-presented, Body-Lawson addressed the importance of designing, building, and operating for the local community.

In short, he explained how not using local materials and labor has a significant negative impact on the environment. Additionally, Body-Lawson feels that the objective of design is that whomever engages with end product—commercial or residential—comes out better.

Wellness

Refreshingly, it appears the stigma surrounding wellness is dissipating. More people seem to be more comfortable discussing their mental and emotional health openly.

Designers and their clients, particularly in the hotel and resort space, are taking note.

Long a staple amenity, the health center is undergoing reinvention. In fact, many resorts and hotels are focusing on wellness centers and programming.

In fact, a number of concepts are more wellness and healing getaway than hotel or resort. One such project coming to market is the Jenesis House.

The creation of Jenesis Laforcarde, this concept’s focus is explicitly mental health, physical well-being, and self-care. Additional core values are community, hiring local, and engaging with local small businesses.

Diversity, Equity, Inclusion

Like the topic of wellness, DEI has received more earnest attention during the pandemic. And why not? Diversity, inclusion, and equity are inextricably connected to wellness.

Of course, DEI is also connected to community. Moving forward, designers, their partners, and their clients must focus on DEI within their companies and local communities.

One hotel brand that seeks to embody this mission is Caption, part of the Hyatt portfolio. Crystal Vinisse Thomas, VP and global brand leader of lifestyle and luxury brands for Hyatt, is bringing Caption to market.

At this brand’s core is community. Locals are as important as the travelers staying at a Caption property. And, again, why shouldn’t that be the case?

Locals will work at the hotel. Locals will use the hotel. And locals will feel the impact—positive or negative—of the hotel.

A visit to the website provides all the proof anyone needs that Caption is committed to locals:

  • “The people make the place here. We hire local, buy local, and vibe local.”
  • “We strive to be a good neighbor.”

Interestingly, Thomas tied DEI and the community together. While it may be a difficult conversation to start, if a designer, executive, partner, or client sees that a project isn’t representing the community, they need to address it.

Staying silent isn’t how things move forward. In fact, it’s a sure-fire way to take steps backward.

Discovery

What keeps guests coming back? Is it the amenities of a hotel? The food and beverage? Do guests return because of the service they receive?

Of course. However, a shift in guest behavior and expectations shows that F&B, amenities, and service may no longer be enough to motivate repeat visits.

When it comes to hotel and resort design, the future is discovery. Another way to think about discovery is the “hotel within the hotel,” or “resort inside the resort.” A concept that embraces this approach reveals layers that guests can discover.

Perhaps their first stay is in the main or more traditional space. Then, the guest discovers that there are different areas they can book for a stay. These could be villas, luxury tents, a pre-fab luxury Moliving unit (as an example)…

The point is that the guest knows they can engage with the property differently during each stay. While there are core elements that define a particular brand, they can deliver different experiences on the same property.

Of course, such a concept also ties into the themes of community and wellness. Many brands are eschewing the traditional operational ethos of attempting to keep a guest on property for as long as possible. Instead, the local community is a key experiential element of a hotel or resort.

The future of hospitality design—indeed, of hospitality as a whole—encompasses each of these themes. Perhaps most importantly, each theme serves a greater concept: Community.

Image: tommao wang on Unsplash

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