Customer engagement

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

US Restaurant Employment Still Short

US Restaurant Employment Creeping Toward February 2020 Levels

by David Klemt

Restaurant door handle that says "push"

Keep pushing. We have work to do to reach February 2020 employment levels.

After what appeared to be a strong September 2023, restaurants and bars saw a decline of 7,500 jobs in the month of October.

In fact, the strong numbers from September were notably weaker once revised. After revisions, eating and drinking businesses added 48,300 jobs, not the nearly 61,000 from preliminary reports.

Importantly, a correction in employment numbers for August 2023 has revealed further declines. Initially, reports stated that restaurants had added 14,400 jobs. Unfortunately, the corrected number showed that restaurants shed 9,300 positions.

However, context is important. Notably, the unemployment rate in the US has remained under four percent for nearly 24 months. As of the latest reporting by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, unemployment is at 3.9 percent.

Numbers by Restaurant Category

The data in this subsection comes from the National Restaurant Association. As the NRA notes, this information is based on data from September 2023.

These numbers should provide further context for restaurant and bar’s current situation. Some restaurant categories are struggling more than others to reach or surpass pre-pandemic levels of employment.

Below, employments numbers for September 2023 in comparison to February 2020.

  • Full-service: -214,000 jobs
  • Quick-service and Fast Casual: +128,000 jobs
  • Bars and Taverns: +50,000 jobs
  • Cafeterias and Buffets: -36,600 jobs
  • Catering and Mobile Food Service: +14,900
  • Snack and Non-alcohol Beverage Bars: +107,000 jobs
  • Foodservice Contractors: +15,100 jobs

As you can see, full-service restaurants are struggling the most to reach pre-pandemic employment numbers. However, QSRs and bars have surpassed that milestone.

By the Numbers

Below, the change in employment in each state and Washington, DC. The time period the data span runs from September 2019 to September 2023*.

  • Alabama: -5,700 (-3.4%)
  • Alaska: +100 (+0.4%)
  • Arizona: +18,200 (+7.6%)
  • Arkansas: +7,900 (+8.1%)
  • California: +32,700 (+2.2%)
  • Colorado: +9,100 (+3.8%)
  • Connecticut: -1,200 (-1.0%)
  • Delaware: +2,500 (+6.4%)
  • District of Columbia: -2,500 (-4.5%)
  • Florida: +35,200 (+4.4%)
  • Georgia: +21,800 (+5.5%)
  • Hawaii: -4,900 (-6.9%)
  • Idaho: +7,000 (+11.5%)
  • Illinois: -11,000 (-2.3%)
  • Indiana: +7,900 (+3.2%)
  • Iowa: -200 (-0.2%)
  • Kansas: +4,800 (+4.7%)
  • Kentucky: -400 (-0.2%)
  • Louisiana: -9,000 (-5.2%)
  • Maine: -4,000 (-7.9%)
  • Maryland: -16,700 (-8.0%)
  • Massachusetts: -15,600 (-5.6%)
  • Michigan: -21,400 (-6.3%)
  • Minnesota: -9,000 (-5.2%)
  • Mississippi: -1,700 (-1.7%)
  • Missouri: -3,500 (-1.5%)
  • Montana: +4,500 (+10.7%)
  • Nebraska: +600 (+0.8%)
  • Nevada: +22,300 (+16.7%)
  • New Hampshire: -1,500 (-2.9%)
  • New Jersey: +7,400 (+2.7%)
  • New Mexico: +3,100 (+4.2%)
  • New York: -10,000 (-1.4%)
  • North Carolina: +12,900 (+3.3%)
  • North Dakota: -100 (-0.3%)
  • Ohio: -6,300 (-1.4%)
  • Oklahoma: +3,600 (+2.5%)
  • Oregon: -2,000 (-1.2%)
  • Pennsylvania: -5,600 (-1.3%)
  • Rhode Island: -2,000 (-4.3%)
  • South Carolina: +1,000 (+0.5%)
  • South Dakota: +3,100 (+9.4%)
  • Tennessee: +8,000 (+3.0%)
  • Texas: +74,200 (+6.6%)
  • Utah: +12,900 (+12.0%)
  • Vermont: -1,000 (-4.7%)
  • Virginia: -100 (-0.0%)
  • Washington: +3,900 (+1.5%)
  • West Virginia: -2,600 (-4.6%)
  • Wisconsin: -8,100 (-3.8%)
  • Wyoming: -100 (-0.5%)

Ups and Downs

First, the less-positive news: restaurant employment is below pre-pandemic levels in more than half of the country. Including Washington, DC, 27 states are still lagging behind September 2019.

However, in some cases the change is negligible.

For example, Wyoming is down just 0.5 percent, and Virginia is down just 100 jobs or 0.00033 percent. Of the 27 states seeing declines, 20 are down less than five percent in comparison to September 2019.

Of course, it’s important to note that Hawaii, Michigan, and Massachusetts are down more than five percent.

So, to the good news. Two dozen states are enjoying restaurant and bar employment above September 2019 levels.

Four states are up more than ten percent. Nevada is leading the way, up 16.7 percent. Next is Utah, up 12 percent. Following in third is Idaho, up 11.5 percent.


Restaurant employment’s pre-pandemic peak was in February 2020. As of the most-current data, we’re down 14,000 jobs.

According to the most recent data, restaurants and bars employ 12.32 million people in the US. While we have yet to reach the 12.34 million that were employed in February 2020, we’re not far off. We still have reason to be positive about recovery.

The larger threat looming over operators is rising costs. Additionally, depending on the source, a recession is either a possible or current threat.

Of course, there’s still increasing demand from consumers to gather at restaurants and bars. So, again, there’s reason to remain positive.

This is all to say that numbers without deeper understanding and nuance only provide surface context. They can make us panic or breathe a sigh of relief, seemingly at the drop of a hat. We can either worry that we haven’t reached the pre-pandemic milestone, be positive that we’ll reach that number in the near future, or decide that perhaps that metric shouldn’t be the primary one by which we measure recovery.

In short, operators positioning themselves for long-term success understand their market, their teams, and their guests; focus on staff and guest retention; develop community engagement and support; and have strategic clarity.

*Sources: US Bureau of Labor Statistics, National Restaurant Association

Image: Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

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by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Intersection of Streaming & Sports Betting

The Intersection of Streaming and Sports Betting

by David Klemt

Closeup shot of the NFL logo painted onto turf or grass

The popularity and ubiquity of sports betting is exploding throughout the US, and its seemingly inescapable presence is due in large part to streaming.

This is one topic we learned about during our first visit to the Global Gaming Expo, also known as G2E.

It’s true that gaming and hospitality are two distinct, different industries. However, they’re inextricably connected. And with gaming platforms and mobile devices making it even easier to place bets on sports, that connection is only getting stronger.

Now, I’m going to take a moment to make my relationship with gaming clear. First, I’m not an expert on the industry. Second, I rarely partake in gaming even though I live in Las Vegas. I’ll throw the odd twenty into a small handful of specific slot machines, but that’s the extent of my gaming experience. I think it has been a decade since I last played craps.

So, I’m going to do my best to share what I learned during G2E. The show is an educational experience for me, and I feel that hospitality business operators can benefit from its sessions.

As far as the hospitality-gaming relationship, however, I certainly believe they’re complementary industries. This is absolutely true in Las Vegas, and it’s true in other markets as well. If casinos weren’t aware that hospitality is crucial to keeping guests returning and risking their cash on games, they wouldn’t bother focusing on dining, drinking, nightlife, and other hospitality amenities.

I’m also confident saying Las Vegas in particular wouldn’t have generated nearly $15 billion in 2022. And casinos throughout America wouldn’t have generated over $60 billion last year.

In summary, the connection between hospitality and gaming is what drew me to G2E this year.

Watershed Moments

One of the sessions I attended was “Streaming X Sports Betting: The Future of Engaging Gen Z.” Adam I. Kaplan, the chief operating officer of SportsGrid, was the speaker.

SportsGrid, I’ve since learned, is multimedia sports betting network. According to Kaplan, the ad-supported network is available on more than 40 platforms and accessed by millions upon millions of mobile devices

Users can access SportsGrid 24/7 via smart TV or their dedicated app. Additionally, people can stream SportsGrid via other platforms, such as:

  • Roku;
  • Prime Video;
  • YouTube TV;
  • Sling;
  • Freevee; and
  • Plex.

Per Kaplan, we can trace the creation of SportsGrid to two genesis points: the creation of Napster, and the introduction of the iPhone.

The launch of Napster in June of 1999 was, of course, a watershed moment. And its influence on society is undeniable. According to Kaplan, the platform’s influence included the belief that content should be free.

When the iPhone hit the scene in January of 2007, it, too, was a massive milestone. Part of its success, as Kaplan pointed out, was how easy it made for users to engage with content.

Taken together, Napster and the iPhone have “taught” people that content should be free and easy to access. And their launches have led to the rise of iGaming and sports betting.

Sports Betting Repeal Day

Like hospitality, sports betting has their own Repeal Day. Whereas bars and restaurants celebrate on December 5, gaming would celebrate May 14.

That’s the day in 2018 that the United States Supreme Court struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) of 1992. Essentially, PASPA banned sports betting in the US, with narrow exceptions for four or five states.

When PASPA was overturned on the basis that the act violated the Tenth Amendment (states’ rights), several states made moves to legalize sports betting. Currently, sports betting is legal in some form in more than 30 states and Washington, DC.

During the five-year period following the end of PASPA, sports betting has gained massive traction throughout the US. Several publications report that the NFL in particular sees the most betting action.

According to the American Gaming Association, 73 million Americans plan to bet on the 2023-2024 NFL season specifically. That’s up from 46 million in 2022, a huge leap.

Of all adults who said they’d bet on sports this year, 14 percent (more than 35 million people) plan to place their bets online.

Per SportsGrid’s Kaplan, people aged 40 and under—so, Millennials and legal-age Gen Z—make up the majority of sports bettors. Looking at sports betting as an engagement driver, businesses should see the opportunity to attract sports bettors as customers and keep them loyal.

Skin in the Game

As Kaplan points out, one reason that sports betting drives engagement is the sense a bettor has of having “skin in the game.”

Well, they aren’t the only people who want skin in the sports betting game.

Since PASPA ended, hospitality venues across the country have attempted to get in on the sports betting phenomenon. This makes perfect sense, particularly for sports bars.

What operator in that space wouldn’t love the ability to stream content from a platform like SportsGrid, FanDuel TV, or DraftKings Network, with their guests permitted to place bets while inside the venue, legally?

That opportunity could prove incredibly lucrative, generating significant traffic and sales. And that’s to say nothing of the marketing, promotions, and guest loyalty opportunities. Think of what legalized on-premise sports betting could do to attract fantasy sports league participants…

Additionally, venues that can stream sports betting content and encourage betting on-premise (again, legally) could prove incredibly popular with one of the age groups operators focus on the most: the 21- to 34-year-old segment.

So, it appears one of the next frontiers for hospitality is pushing for the legalization of sports betting on-premise. Operators in favor of guests being allowed to place bets while onsite can either wait and see or actively engage their lawmakers.

What a time, eh?

Image: Adrian Curiel on Unsplash

KRG Hospitality. Gaming. Entertainment. Consultant. Food Service. Bowling Alley. Golf. Simulator. Arcades. Eatertainment.

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Taco Bell Racking Up Rewards Program Wins

Taco Bell Racking Up Rewards Program Wins

by David Klemt

"Say yes to tacos" graffiti

Taco Bell, masters of the limited-time offer and loyalty program, continue to rack up wins with the return of a fan-favorite promotion, and more.

The fast-food giant operates more than 7,800 restaurants in the US alone. However, the company understands that sheer numbers aren’t enough to turn a profit.

Rather, Taco Bell continually proves they understand the power of promotions, loyalty, and LTOs.

The QSR routinely releases specialty items, then packs them away to generate buzz and traffic by making them available once again—for a limited time. Compellingly, Taco Bell also ties their LTOs to their loyalty program. Often times, the only way for guests to enjoy special perks and items is to be a Taco Bell Rewards member.

Not only does this help to engage existing members, this approach drives new program signups.

Case in point: the Taco Lover’s Pass.

National Taco Day Promotion

If you’re industry or a fan of Taco Bell, you should be aware of the Taco Lover’s Pass by now.

Tracing its genesis to 2021 in Arizona, the LTO pops up every now and then. In exchange for $10, those who grab a pass can get one free taco each day for 30 consecutive days.

Oh, and the pass is now only available via the Taco Bell app, and to members of the Taco Bell Rewards program. Again, this is an excellent way to boost engagement. Do guests want to take advantage of this LTO? Great—they’ll need to exchange their info and provide access to themselves to do so.

Normally, the Taco Lover’s Pass is available for purchase for just one day. However, this time around Taco Bell gave rewards members two days to snag one. This is likely due to a new menu item drop coming tomorrow.

For quite some time now, Taco Bell has been hinting that they’ll be making breakfast easier and better. And now we know how they plan to accomplish that goal.

Joining the Seasoned Beef Crunchy Taco, Seasoned Beef Crunchy Taco Supreme, Seasoned Beef Soft Taco, Seasoned Beef Soft Taco Supreme, Spicy Potato Soft Taco, Seasoned Beef Doritos® Locos Tacos, and Seasoned Beef Doritos® Locos Tacos Supreme on the Taco Lover’s Pass is the new Toasted Breakfast Taco.

Today, October 12 (a Taco Tuesday!), Taco Bell drops the Toasted Breakfast Taco, and holders of their coveted pass can grab one for free.

Clearly, Tuesdays are important to Taco Bell. Let’s not forget that they very publicly challenged the “Taco Tuesday” trademark, and very publicly celebrated its cancellation. So, launching an all-new item that will drive traffic to Taco Bell during the breakfast daypart makes perfect sense. The drop also further solidifies their branding and marketing.

Steal a Base…

…Steal a Taco. Not only is the Taco Lover’s Pass back, so is Taco Bell’s Major League Baseball promotion.

And, once again, it’s available only via the Taco Bell app, and only to Taco Bell Rewards members.

Focusing on the Fall Classic, “Steal a Base, Steal a Taco” is a collaboration between Taco Bell, the MLB, and Topps.

Starting October 27 (not a Tuesday), the first player to steal a base will earn the title Taco Hero. That player will also earn free Nacho Cheese Doritos® Locos Tacos for Taco Bell Rewards members.

Taking things further, however, is Topps. The iconic trading card brand has put a limited run of Topps TacoFractor cards into circulation. People who hold the card of the first player to steal a base during the 2023 World Series could win Taco Bell for life. For this promotion, that comes in the form of a digital $15,000 Taco Bell gift card.

Alternatively, the holders of Topps TacoFractor Wild Cards could win the big prize.

On October 10 (a Tuesday!), Taco Bell Rewards members will have the chance to score free Topps Chrome or Cosmic Chrome packs. This limited Tuesday Drop could lead to a Taco Hero card, which in turn can lead to winning Taco Bell for life.


Unquestionably, Taco Bell understands the power of marketing messaging, branding, promotions, and the LTO.

However, they also understand the need for loyalty and rewards programs to do more than just offer discounts and free menu items. A great loyalty program needs to be big, bold, and encourage constant engagement.

With that in mind, it’s more than likely time for most operators, regardless of size, to review and rethink their programs.

Image: Chad Stembridge on Unsplash

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by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Canadians Preparing for NHL Opening Week

Canadians Preparing for NHL Opening Week

by David Klemt

Vintage tabletop hockey game toy

Now nobody can accuse me of showing any NHL teams favoritism. Go Knights Go!

As one should expect, Canadian hockey fans are preparing for the 2023-2024 NHL season opener, and those preparations include on-premise visits.

On Tuesday, October 10, three teams will face off to start the regular season.

First, the Nashville Predators take on the Tampa Bay Lightning. Then, the Chicago Blackhawks will face the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Finally, after raising their brand-new, first-ever Stanley Cup championship banner, which they won just six seasons after their founding, the fastest an expansion team has accomplished this feat, the Vegas Golden Knights will welcome the Seattle Kraken to T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

According to on-premise data from CGA by NIQ, Canadian hockey fans are planning to celebrate the start of the season at bars and restaurants. That means operators have less than two weeks to finalize plans to attract these guests to their venues.

In particular, operators in four provinces need to ensure their NHL opening week plans and promotions are good to go. Per CGA’s data, consumers in Québec are showing the greatest interest in watching this season’s opening games in bars and restaurants. Following and driving on-premise interest are British Columbia, Ontario, and Alberta.

Of course, operators throughout the provinces who serve sports fans should be ready to welcome hockey fans.

For our Canadian readers, the Montréal Candiens will take on Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday, October 11. On that same day, the Ottawa Senators face the Carolina Hurricanes; the Edmonton Oilers face off against the Vancouver Canucks; and the Winnipeg Jets will battle the Calgary Flames.

Click here for the full opening week schedule.

Why Does this Matter?

I may catch some flack for this but technically, any bar with televisions events can be a sports bar.

Yes, I understand that’s a very simplistic view. And yes, of course that comes with the caveat that sports should be authentic to a given concept. Also, showing sports should take into account the expectations of bar or restaurant’s guests.

In other words, most bars and restaurants can benefit from sports but they’d likely be a hindrance to some high-end cocktail bars and fine-dining concepts.

With that out of the way, operators who want to establish themselves as the go-to spot for sporting events need to nail opening week. That means having all of their ducks in a row.

Do they have the proper business TV packages in place? Will promotions and programming appeal to the target audience? Are the screens and audio system high quality for the best viewing experience? Does the menu offer sports fans what they want for great value? Is the team pulling out all the spots to make viewing fun?

Regarding the menu, CGA by NIQ has a couple of valuable insights. First, beer is the top beverage alcohol category among those planning to celebrate NHL opening week on-premise. Second, among those who plan to consume spirits, tequila is the top pick. Sounds like offering beer and tequila shot pairings could perform well.

However, operators should certainly take into account their own data. What F&B items are selling the best? Which items performed the best this same time last year?

Between 15 and 16 million Canadians follow hockey. That’s a vast pool of potential customers to convert to loyal guests. The importance of becoming their sports home base, their third spot, cannot be overstated.

This coming opening week, lay the groundwork to become the go-to place for hockey fans, fantasy sports competitors, and sports bettors.

Image: cottonbro studio via Pexels

KRG Hospitality. Gaming. Entertainment. Consultant. Food Service. Bowling Alley. Golf. Simulator. Arcades. Eatertainment.

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

iPourIt Releases Their 2023 Pour Report

iPourIt Releases Their 2023 Pour Report

by David Klemt

Beer pouring into glass from tap

Interactive self-serve beer experience platform iPourIt‘s latest report, the 2023 Pour Report, is now available for download and review.

iPourIt is a pioneer in the self-serve beverage space. While it may seem counter-intuitive to some, many guests have shown time and again that they enjoy using self-serve walls. For these guests, a not in any way insignificant number, iPourIt installations enhance the guest experience, increase loyalty, and boost revenue.

And while many people associate iPourIt and self-serve programs with beer, these systems can also pour wine, cocktails on tap, spirits, non-alcohol beverages, and soft drinks.


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Another benefit from iPourIt? Transparency and sharing of data. The company doesn’t limit providing valuable guest behavior insight to their clients. Rather, they make the data they collect available to anyone. Simply head to their website, fill out a few fields, and gain important beverage insights.

Anyone curious can choose between a standard report and a “pro” version. Both are free to download and peruse. People can also read our article that dives into their fourth-annual report via this link.

Below you’ll find key takeaways from their 2023 report. I strongly urge operators to download and review either report.

The Who

We agree that demographics are a metric that people and businesses often misuse. Valuegraphics can be far more effective for businesses looking to build loyalty and boost revenue.

Still, demographics can provide beneficial insights.

First, let’s look at how men and women used iPourIt systems in 2022. Men poured 20,477,288 ounces last year, whereas women poured 10,848,435 ounces. The average per pour for men was 6.4 ounces in comparison to 5.3 ounces per pour from women. On average, men spent $14.72 per visit to an iPourIt-equipped location; women spent $12.24.

Next, the generational breakdown. IPA was the number-one style poured for Baby Boomers, Generation X, and Millennials. For legal-drinking-age Generation Z drinkers, IPA came in second; their top pour style was cider. Likewise, Lager claimed second place for Boomers, Gen X, and Millennials. Second was IPA for Gen Z, and Lager was third. Wheat beer was third place for Boomers, fourth for Gen X and Millennials, and fifth for Gen Z. Sour came in fifth for Gen X and Millennials fourth for Gen Z; for Boomers, the style didn’t rank among the top five. Stout clinched the fifth spot for Boomers.

Finally, in terms of traffic, men of every age group poured more ounces than their female counterparts.

The What

Below, the top 10 styles of beer poured by men:

  1. Fruit beer
  2. Pale Ale
  3. Blonde
  4. Pilsner
  5. Stout
  6. Sour
  7. Wheat beer
  8. Cider
  9. Lager
  10. IPA

In descending order, the top five (download the report for the top ten) products poured by men were Michelob Ultra, Bud Light, Golden Road Brewing Mango Cart, Coors Light, and Modelo Especial.

And now the top styles of beer or category of beverage poured by women:

  1. Stout
  2. Fruit beer
  3. Blonde
  4. White wine
  5. Hard seltzer
  6. Wheat beer
  7. Sour
  8. Lager
  9. IPA
  10. Cider

Also in descending order, the top products poured by women were Michelob Ultra, Mango Cart by Golden Road Brewing, Bud Light, Ace Pineapple Cider, and Coors Light.

The Where

The 2023 Pour Report by iPourIt breaks the US down into five regions: West, Southwest, Midwest, Southeast, and Northeast.

Because our American head office is in Las Vegas and our hotel consultant is in Pennsylvania, we’ll look at the West and Northeast.

The top-five pours for the West in 2022 were:

  1. Bud Light
  2. Firestone Walker Brewing Co. 805
  3. Golden Road Brewing Mango Cart
  4. Coors Light
  5. Modelo Especial

While the top-five pours in the Northeast were:

  1. Blue Moon Brewing Co. Belgian White
  2. Allagash Brewing Co. White
  3. Lord Hobo Brewing Co. Boom Sauce
  4. Sloop Brewing Co. Juice Bomb
  5. Stella Artois

For the curious, Bud Light and Coors Light are categorized as American-style Light Lagers, 805 is a Blonde Ale, Mango Cart is a Wheat Ale, and Modelo Especial is a Mexican-style Pilsner. Blue Moon and Allagash White are both Belgian-style wheat beers (or Witbiers), Boom Sauce is a Double IPA, Juice Bomb is a Northeastern IPA, and Stella Artois is a Lager.

For further insights, please download this year’s iPourIt report here.

Image: cottonbro studio on Pexels

KRG Hospitality Beverage Programming

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

SevenRooms and Marriott Partnership

SevenRooms and Marriott Reveal Global Partnership

by David Klemt

Restaurant staff member using SevenRooms on a tablet

Fresh from launching the innovative Pre-Shift pre-service tool, SevenRooms today announces the platform’s latest partnership.

The announcement, which you can read in its entirety below, shows the confidence that some of the most recognizable hospitality brands in the world have in SevenRooms capabilities.

Specifically, the platform is now a preferred restaurant technology provider throughout Marriott International‘s portfolio. In fact, Marriott is leveraging the SevenRooms suite of tech solutions at several of their brands in more than a dozen countries. This translates to over 8,500 properties using the platform’s powerful booking, relationship management, and marketing tools.

Among the brands utilizing SevenRooms tools are The Ritz-Carlton, JW Marriott, EDITION Hotels, The Luxury Collection, and W Hotels.

The latest news to come from SevenRooms again underscores the platform’s commitment to growth and longevity. After more than a decade in operation and service to hospitality operators, it’s safe to say the company has reached ubiquity.

You may not operate a hotel or operate within a hotel. You may not oversee a multi-unit or multi-concept business. This news should be no less important to you.

When developing your tech stack (a service KRG Hospitality provides) it’s important to choose platforms that are here to stay. Otherwise, your investments of time and money go up in smoke. Likewise, the disruption to operations and service as you seek a new platform are harmful to you, your team, and guests.

So, it can be wise to not just dig into the platforms you’re considering, it can be smart to see what companies trust them as partners.

SevenRooms is a platform that we’re comfortable recommending to many of our clients. And no, we’re not paid or otherwise compensated to do so.

To learn more about SevenRooms partnering with Marriott International, see below.


The global technology platform will power personalized guest experiences to increase revenue while providing deeper guest insights for the global hospitality company 

NEW YORK (May 18, 2023) – SevenRooms, a guest experience and retention platform for the hospitality industry, today announced its agreement with Marriott International to become a preferred restaurant technology provider. SevenRooms is currently live across 25 countries at Marriott brands including W Hotels, The Ritz-Carlton, St. Regis, Sheraton, JW Marriott, Le Méridien, Westin, Marriott Hotels, Renaissance Hotels, EDITION Hotels, The Luxury Collection and Gaylord Hotels. This will unlock additional opportunities at the more than 8,500 Marriott International properties worldwide.

SevenRooms is a data-driven guest experience and retention platform focused 100% on building operator-focused tools. The platform offers solutions to global brands that not only increase revenue generation, but help them build long-term relationships with guests. 

For restaurants, bars, and other F&B outlets in Marriott-branded hotels, the SevenRooms platform offers a suite of tools to help drive incremental revenue, increase operational efficiencies, and offer exceptional guest experiences. Through SevenRooms’ Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and Marketing Automation capabilities, Marriott’s hotels are not only able to cultivate meaningful, direct relationships with guests, but access a 360-degree view into the guest journey to foster deeper guest loyalty.

“We’re thrilled to collaborate with Marriott International as a preferred restaurant technology provider, helping them deliver more personalized experiences for their guests around the world,” said Joel Montaniel, CEO & Co-Founder of SevenRooms. “Today, consumers expect more out of their F&B experiences whether they’re staying local or traveling abroad. They want to engage with hotels, restaurants and bars on their own terms, and are increasingly discovering and booking where to eat and drink across an array of channels. With SevenRooms, operators have access to tools that help them reach these guests while driving operational efficiencies by connecting F&B into their overall hotel strategy to generate revenue and increase profitability. Our suite of products not only helps operators of Marriott-branded hotels provide guests with exceptional experiences that enhance positive sentiment and drive increased loyalty, but enables them to do so at scale, automatically. We look forward to working with Marriott as we enable them with technology to build longer-lasting, more profitable relationships with their guests.”

Marriott International properties can now incorporate much of SevenRooms’ suite of tools and solutions, including Customer Relationship Management (CRM), on-premise table management, waitlist management, marketing automation, email marketing, order management and review aggregation. 

“Marriott’s hospitality roots began in restaurants, and we want to provide exceptional, unforgettable restaurant experiences for our guests,” said Matthew Von Ertfelda, Senior Vice President, Food & Beverage at Marriott International. “With SevenRooms, we’re not only able to provide guests with the experiences they crave, but we can leverage a robust suite of tools to help turn one-time guests into lifelong guests.”

To learn more about SevenRooms, please visit

About SevenRooms

SevenRooms is a guest experience and retention platform that helps hospitality operators create exceptional experiences that drive revenue and repeat business. Trusted by thousands of hospitality operators around the world, SevenRooms powers tens of millions of guest experiences each month across both on- and off-premises. From neighborhood restaurants and bars to international, multi-concept hospitality groups, SevenRooms is transforming the industry by empowering operators to take back control of their businesses to build direct guest relationships, deliver exceptional experiences and drive more visits and orders, more often. The full suite of products includes reservation, waitlist and table management, online ordering, mobile order & pay, review aggregation, email marketing and marketing automation. Founded in 2011 and venture-backed by Amazon, Comcast Ventures, PSG and Highgate Ventures, SevenRooms has dining, hotel F&B, nightlife and entertainment clients globally, including: Marriott International, MGM Resorts International, Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group, The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, Wynn Resorts, Jumeirah Group, Hard Rock Hotels & Resorts, Wolfgang Puck, Michael Mina, Bloomin’ Brands, Giordano’s, Australian Venue Company, Altamarea Group, AELTC, The Wolseley Hospitality Group, Dishoom, Live Nation and Topgolf. 

Image: SevenRooms

KRG Hospitality tech stack consulting. Tech. Technology. CRM. POS. Restaurant. Bar. Cafe. Lounge. Hotel. Resort.

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Ocean’s Summertime Celebrations

Ocean Casino Resort Summertime Celebrations

by David Klemt

Exterior of Ocean Casino Resort at sunset

Ocean Casino Resort is celebrating an impressive milestone all summer long through creative local business partnerships.

This summer, the resort will reach its fifth anniversary. The festivities will begin May 26, a month before Ocean’s “birthday.”

However, rather than focus solely on the resort and casino, Ocean is choosing to celebrate the community it serves as well. These fifth birthday activations and initiatives are an excellent lesson for operators across all hospitality business categories.

I’m sure operators—all hospitality professionals, really—will agree that restaurants and bars are integral elements of any community’s bedrock. Increasingly, the same can be said of hotels. In fact, large hotel groups are investing in the development of smaller imprints that are tasked with the mission of serving locals and local businesses.

When a restaurant, bar, hotel, or nightclub reaches annual milestones, it’s largely due to community support. Sure, businesses in destination cities benefit greatly from tourist visits. However, for most markets, longevity is anything but assured without local backing and buy-in.

It’s clear that the importance of local support isn’t lost on Ocean. This summer’s celebrations include several local partnerships and community initiatives to pay that support back.

Local Partnerships

Last year, the Ocean leveraged the demise of the Choco Taco. So far in 2023, Ocean has supported Philly and KC during the Big Game, and gotten creative with cocktails that raised funds for the Girl Scout Troops of Southern and Central New Jersey.

Local partnerships are key to Ocean’s five-year celebration:

  • The Seed: Created Seeds of the Ocean for Ocean’s five-year anniversary.
  • Tennessee Avenue Beer Hall: Seeds of the Ocean lager will also be available at this local beer hall.
  • Rhythm & Spirits: Joining forces with Little Water Distillery to feature their gin in the Oceans 5 cocktail.
  • Little Water Distillery: Their Rusted Revolver Indigenous Gin is the star of the Oceans 5 cocktail, mentioned above. The distillery has also created the Chocolate Cake Martini, featuring Bar 32 chocolate shavings.
  • Hank Sauce: For those who prefer their celebrations spicy, Ocean and Hank Sauce have collaborated on Across the Boards. This hot sauce will accompany food items at restaurants inside Ocean.
  • Tony Boloney’s: They’ve created the High 5 pizza to celebrate Ocean’s birthday. This is another collaboration within a collaboration, as it features Seed of the Ocean lager and Across the Boards hot sauce.
  • Bar 32: What celebration is complete without something sweet? Bar 32 (a bean-to-bar chocolatier) and Ocean will be offering three commemorative chocolate bars: the Berry Pretzel Bar, Party Pretzel Bar, and Salty Peanut Butter Bar.
  • Mudgirl Studios: Ocean has commissioned several handmade, one-of-one pieces from this non-profit that will be featured not just in common areas on the property but also in some of the guest rooms.
  • Atlantic City Arts Foundation: To help celebrate its fifth birthday, Ocean has collaborated with the ACAF for a three-panel mural that will have a home at Tennessee Avenue Beer Hall.

Creative & Compelling

What I find most notable about these local partnerships is how several of them intertwine.

Not only did Ocean commission an exclusive beer, a local restaurant chain is using it for a pizza. That same restaurant chain is also using a hot sauce Ocean had created to celebrate their milestone. There are other collaborations that bring Rhythm & Spirits, Little Water Distillery, and Bar 32 together.

However, Ocean is doing more than just supporting a select group of local businesses. Mudgirl Studios employs and empowers at-risk, homeless and formerly incarcerated women. The ACAF, as one would imagine, inspires and empowers people to pursue the arts. Both support and strengthen communities throughout Atlantic City, and Ocean is giving back by supporting them.

In addition to all of that, the celebrations kick off on Memorial Day Weekend with a $300,000 sweepstakes. All in, there will be more than $5 million in promotions and giveaways in play over the course of this summer. From June 24 to July 4, Ocean is putting up one million dollars for a second sweepstakes.

Then there are Tesla giveaways, birthday fireworks, the Birthday Bar Pop-up Experience at 1927 Lounge inside Ocean Resort Casino, and Ocean’s sponsorship of the Atlantic City Beer and Music Festival.

Nola's Bar & Lounge inside Ocean Casino Resort

Look for Ocean’s birthday drinks at property bars like Nola’s Bar & Lounge

Again, it would be easy for Ocean to have simply planned a celebratory weekend, week, or month, focusing solely on themselves. Instead, they’re involving several small businesses and community organizations.


Do I expect restaurant and bar operators to somehow offer $5 million in giveaways to celebrate a milestone? Or even $300,000? Perhaps a Tesla?

No, of course not.

However, I do think operators should really put thought into celebrating their annual milestones. Surviving the first 12 months is a huge achievement. Making it through the first 18 months and hitting the two-year anniversary is just as challenging.

So, operators should take four to six months to plan their celebrations. Additionally, they should view these events as a way to thank the community for supporting them. And, of course, that includes being grateful for beneficial business relationships.

When considering marking these achievements, it’s wise to include local businesses. Craft brewers and distillers, local farmers and vintners, non-profit organizations… All the better if the selected partners can collaborate with one another to make the celebration and partnerships that much more impactful.

Operators should take a page out of Ocean’s celebration handbook and look for creative, thoughtful collaborations. Doing so lifts up others and pays local support forward, in turn making the entire community stronger.

It’s perfectly acceptable for an operator to be proud and celebrate milestones. But it’s even better for operators to celebrate those who help them thrive.

Images courtesy of Ocean Casino Resort

KRG Hospitality. Boutique Hotels. Resorts. Properties. Consultant. Feasibility Study. Business Plan

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Guest Journey: Acquire, Engage, Retain

Guest Journey: Acquire, Engage, Retain

by David Klemt

Black "Hustle" coffee cup on desk

What if you could change your operational mindset for the better in the time it takes to enjoy a cup of coffee?

SevenRooms is confident they can help you do exactly that.

The SevenRooms Coffee Break series tackles one important operational element per 20-minute webinar.

Time for a Coffee Break?

It’s no secret that we’re fans of SevenRooms here at KRG Hospitality. In addition to supporting the actual platform, we’re always eager to share their data-driven reports and insights.

CEO Joel Montaniel is the guest on episode 24 of our Bar Hacks podcast. (You can—and should—listen to the episode on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you listen to podcasts.)

Given how much SevenRooms values collecting and sharing data that can improve operations industry-wide, it’s not a surprise that they also offer informative webinars.

So far, there are three webinars in the Coffee Break series. And, of course, each shares a way that operators can improve their business.

That’s certainly welcome as we emerge from stay-at-home orders, ease restrictions, and welcome more guests.

The current entries focus on what SevenRooms is dubbing the Restaurant Renaissance. As Doug Radkey, president of KRG Hospitality says, we can take two paths leading to the post-pandemic world.

One, we can recognize that the industry needs an overhaul, making improvements for operators, workers and guests.

Two, we can learn nothing, do nothing, and watch the industry collapse.

Restaurant Renaissance

Call it what you prefer: the Restaurant Renaissance. The New Roaring Twenties. Re-emergence. The New Normal. The Post-pandemic World.

Sure, it’s cool to have a catchy label to slap onto unique eras. It’s better to have a clear plan and path for moving forward.

To that end, SevenRooms identifies four key factors driving what they’re calling the Restaurant Renaissance:

  • Vaccines
  • Warmer weather
  • Pent-up consumer demand
  • Restrictions lifting

Alexa Detzi, director of Enterprise Success at SevenRooms, addresses these elements in the first Coffee Break webinar, “Acquire.”

We’ve said many times that operators need to prepare for an explosion in consumer demand and guest traffic. In addition, we’ve made it clear that we’ll most likely experience a severe drop-off in traffic after the initial demand wanes.

Of course, there are several ways things might play out in the New Normal. However, huge traffic in many markets followed by a drop makes the most sense.

Get Ready

The first three SevenRooms Coffee Break webinars focus on the guest journey:

I highly recommend signing up and watching each webinar, sooner rather than later. Guests are already being subjected to a cacophony of marketing overtures—you need to cut through the noise.

We Want to Help You

Like SevenRooms, KRG Hospitality is dedicated to helping operators.

If you’re seeking to open a new business, whether your first venue or an expansion, should also download our 2021 Restaurant Start-up Cost Guide & Checklist.

And for operators looking more direct and guided assistance for improving your business, we also offer KRG Mindset.

Next time you have 15 or 20 minutes to yourself, check out our Solutions and Resources pages, reach out, and let’s set up your Roadmap to Success.

Image: Garrhet Sampson on Unsplash