by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Program for Unique Holidays: June 2023

Program for Unique Holidays: June 2023

by David Klemt

"Think about things differently" neon sign

Do you want to stand out from from other restaurants and bars in your area? Change how you think about your June holiday promotions.

Several holidays are set against every date on the calendar, and this month is no exception. These holidays range from mainstream to esoteric.

Pay attention to the “weird” or unique holidays to raise eyebrows, carve out a niche for your restaurant or bar, and attract more guests. Why do what everyone else is already doing? Why program only around the same holidays as everyone else?

Of course, you shouldn’t try to celebrate every holiday, strange or otherwise. Focus on the days that are authentic to your brand; resonate with your guests; and help you grab attention on social media.

You’ll find suggestions for promotions below. However, the idea behind our monthly holiday promotions roundup is to inspire you and your team to get creative and come up with unique programming ideas.

For our May 2023 holidays list, click here.

June 3: National Repeat Day

This holiday is the perfect time to encourage guests to buy the ever-important second drink. Likewise, it’s the right day for encouraging people to order a dish or two to take home.

June 8: World Oceans Day

Leaders around the world are committed to the 30×30 initiative: protecting 30 percent of our oceans, waterways, and land by 2030. World Oceans Day is about focusing on this initiative, which people can do, in part, by filling out this short survey.

You and your guests can also support the oceans and conservation efforts by supporting brands like Gray Whale Gin. This award-winning gin is produced with sustainable, ethically, and locally-procured ingredients. Additionally, Gray Whale supports Oceana and 1% for the Planet by donating a portion of their proceeds.

June 10: National Black Cow Day

For those who may not know, a Black Cow is a float. It’s incredibly simple to make: drop a scoop of vanilla ice cream into a mug, add root beer.

Of course, you can also get creative with the Black Cow. One way is to make an adult version, perhaps with a vodka like Vodkow, or a cream liqueur like Vodkow Cream. Another option is to feature craft root beer and local vanilla ice cream.

June 13: National Kitchen Klutzes of America Day

Look, some people just aren’t great cooks. Some aren’t good in the kitchen. In fact, some aren’t even mediocre when it comes to cooking—they’re complete disasters.

Luckily, you probably have a kitchen inside your venue. So, give the not-so-great cooks in your area a reprieve from cooking with excellent lunch and dinner LTOs.

June 14: National Bourbon Day

Hey, do you have bourbon? At the risk of being too assumptive, I bet you do. Guess what you should do on this holiday.

June 16: National Take Back the Lunch Break Day

What a perfect day to motivate people to have lunch in your venue. It’s also a great day to motivate people to order delivery, carryout or pickup from you.

June 21: National Daylight Appreciation Day

This holiday does exactly what it says on the tin, as they say: it celebrates daylight. Venues that take advantage of sunlight—great windows, garage-style roll-up doors, amazing patios—should do what they can to entice guests to visit in the morning and afternoon. So, small-bite and lunch LTOs and promotions; sessionable beer, wine, and cocktails; and healthy, refreshing zero-proof beverages are the order of the day.

June 26: National Coconut Day

Summer and coconut go hand in hand. An LTO menu that shines a light on summery drinks and bites is the perfect way to celebrate the coconut.

Feel free to rile up guests by asking them a “simple” question: Is a coconut a fruit, a nut, a seed, or a drupe?

June 27: National Onion Day

Onion rings. Onion dip. Bacon-onion bites. Onion pinwheels… And those are just appetizers. The humble onion is, as we all know, a powerhouse in the kitchen. For some, onions are also cocktail garnishes.

I think you know what to do on National Onion Day.

June 28: Tau Day

For the most part, we’re taught in school that Pi—a circle’s circumference divided by its diameter—is rounded to 3.14. Pi Day is March 14 each year and the holiday (and mathematical constant) tends to get the meme treatment.

Well, some believe Pi is incorrect. Instead, these people use the constant Tau, which is a circle’s circumference divided by its radius. Tau, with a value of 6.28, is celebrated on June 28. One of the simplest ways to celebrate this holiday is to enjoy twice the amount of pie as one would normally. So, a smart promotion that celebrates Tau Day could be one that encourages couples to come in to enjoy two slices of pie for dessert.

Image: Ivan Bertolazzi on Pexels

KRG Hospitality marketing plan. Restaurant. Bar. Cafe. Lounge. Hotel. Resort.

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Your Discovery Strategy Needs to Change

Your Discovery Strategy Needs to Change

by David Klemt

Black and white photo of person using laptop

A report by guest retention, reservation, and waitlist platform SevenRooms reveals that restaurant discovery is changing.

Per SevenRooms, many operators have looked toward third-party marketplaces to help people discover their restaurants, bars, or hotels. For context, online marketplaces include OpenTable, Resy, and GrubHub.

However, SevenRooms research is indicating a significant slowdown in this method of discovery. Per the platform, just a quarter of consumers still use marketplaces to find restaurants and bars.

So, how are people discovering the places where they want to spend their time and money on food and drinks? And how can you ensure your marketing and discovery strategy evolves alongside today’s consumer behavior? You’ll find out below.

For your own copy of Restaurant Discovery Has Changed: Adapt or Risk Becoming Obsolete by SevenRooms, click here.

Where are Your Guests?

It should come as no surprise that today’s consumer favors social media, influencers, Google, and even artificial intelligence for discovery.

Younger consumers in particular are more likely to discover a new restaurant, bar or hotel via social media.

Per SevenRooms, Gen Z:

  • is twice as likely as other generations to find a new restaurant via Instagram;
  • five times as likely to discover new restaurants on TikTok; and
  • is likely to visit a new restaurant due to an influencer recommending it.

In fact, 39 percent of consumers designated Gen Z have gone to a restaurant because an influencer has gone there.

When conducting this type of research, SevenRooms often works with YouGov. They did so again for their restaurant discovery report, commissioning YouGov to poll 1,185 consumers. Participants indicated they use the following methods or platforms to discover new places to dine and drink:

  • Google (27%)
  • Restaurant’s website (25%)
  • Referral (friends or family) (18%)
  • Facebook (12%)
  • Yelp (11%)
  • OpenTable (9%)
  • Instagram (8%)
  • TikTok (5%)
  • TripAdvisor (4%)
  • Resy (1%)

Three things jump out here: Organic search is crucial, websites still matter, and delivering top-notch service is paramount for word-of-mouth marketing.

Leverage Multiple Channels

If the data is accurate, operators who are relying exclusively or heavily on third-party marketplaces for discovery will be left behind. Instead, operators should seek to implement a multi- or omni-channel strategy.

What does omni-channel mean? In very simple terms, it’s not putting all of one’s eggs in one basket. Check out this article where I dive into omni-channel marketing and tactics for more information.

For their report, SevenRooms breaks omni-channel marketing and discovery thusly:

  • Owned reservation, waitlist, and ordering channels
  • Search and social engagment channels
  • Paid channels

It’s clear what SevenRooms is suggesting here: operators must adapt and meet guests where they are. Guests are relying on Google, a restaurant’s website, and social media for discovery.

The example that the platform gives in their report goes like this:

  • A consumer uses Google and finds a restaurant’s listing.
  • Next, they see a Facebook ad for that restaurant.
  • Finally, they decide to go to the restaurant’s website to learn more.

To that, I’ll add that some guests, those who prefer to order delivery, now seek an ordering widget. It’s wise, therefore, for operators to at least look into how they can implement direct delivery.

The Omni-channel Path

SevenRooms recommends a five-prong omni-channel strategy. Broken down into large chunks, the platform suggests:

  • Google integration;
  • social media engagement;
  • leveraging third-party marketplaces (with caveats);
  • owning direct channels; and
  • direct booking.

Again, this SevenRooms report can be downloaded here. However, I’ll share some details of this SevenRooms approach to discovery below.

Google Integration

SevenRooms isn’t the only one to say this: operators need to own and optimize their Google listing. In fact, they need to own all their listings, which I’ve said for years.

Owning listings boosts discoverability in several ways: SEO optimization, leveraging “near me” search functions, and ensuring guests are receiving accurate information before visiting.

Going further, operators who have marketing budgets can leverage Google ads. According to SevenRooms, Google search ads are also beneficial for becoming discoverable via third-party marketplaces.

Social Media

We’re fast approaching the day when at least half of consumers try a new restaurant or bar because they discovered it on social media. Right now, we’re at 45 percent of consumers finding new restaurants via these channels.

SevenRooms recommends having a presence on at least these channels: TikTok, Facebook, and Instagram. What’s more, they suggest using a direct reservation page and linking it to a “Reserve Now” button on a venue’s social profiles.

If an operator has the budget, they can pay for influencers to visit and talk about their restaurant, bar or hotel. However, this type of marketing can be very expensive.

Third-party Marketplace

This “prong” in SevenRooms’ recommended omni-channel strategy isn’t for every operator. As stated above, it’s use is nuanced.

Who should use marketplaces? New venues or venues that find themselves struggling to drive traffic.

Who shouldn’t use marketplaces? Venues seeing consistently strong traffic, and those that perform well via organic search because they’ve done the work to establish their brand.

Direct Channels

To explain this element, I’ll share the following “journey map” from the SevenRooms report:

Own and optimize the Google My Business listing > Ensure the website is user-friendly > Make sure there’s a reservation widget > Send a confirmation email when a guest has booked a reservation > Send a reminder SMS message > Nail the guest experience during their visit > Send a thank you email after the visit > Follow up with a personalized (keyword here) offer to encourage a repeat visit.

Remember, per Ovation CEO Zack Oates, 70 percent of first-time guests don’t come back. It’s more important than ever to invest in earning repeat visits.

Direct Booking

It’s arguable that this step is part of the overall discovery strategy, that it’s a four-prong plan, not five.

However, this step involves implementing its own strategy so that guests become aware of it. Put another way, some guests need to be taught that a restaurant or bar offers direct reservation booking.

For example, SevenRooms suggests printing menu inserts that let guests know they can book directly with the restaurant. Follow-up emails should also include a direct reservation link. Additionally, loyalty programs should encourage guests to book reservations directly.

Finally, here’s an excellent tip regarding direct booking: Operators can turn off listings or at least reduce reservation inventory on third-party marketplaces. This should be done during the busiest days and dayparts.

Operators need to make sure they keep up with shifting consumer behavior. The implementation of a modern discovery strategy is a crucial step toward long-term success.

Image: Sergey Zolkin on Unsplash

KRG Hospitality marketing support. Restaurant. Bar. Cafe. Lounge. Hotel. Resort.

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Sugar. Water. Whiskey. Mint.

Sugar. Water. Whiskey. Mint.

by David Klemt

Mint Julep in copper Woodford Reserve cup

…and sometimes Angostura bitters.

Get ready to break out the stainless steel and copper cups, whiskey, and crushed ice: National Mint Julep Day is right around the corner.

This classic cocktail’s traditional time to shine—Derby Day—has come and gone. However, we celebrate this ice-cold drink on May 30. This year, FYI, this bar and restaurant holiday falls on a Tuesday.

While many people associate the Mint Julep with the Kentucky Derby and the South, the drink traces its origin to Persia. According to some historians—the fun experts who love researching culinary and drinking history—”julep” is a derivation of “julepe,” which derives from “golâb.” “Julepe” is a Spanish Arabic word that comes from “golâb,” a Persian word that translates to “rosewater.” As one might expect from the translation, golâb was a drink made by combining water with rose petals.

Over time, it’s believed, the rose petals were replaced by people making Juleps in the Mediterranean. The replacement? Mint leaves native to the area.

Eventually, like so many centuries-old drinks, medicinal elements were introduced. The English Julep, for example, added alcohol and camphor. To think, there are decades of human history where doctors prescribed cocktails to patients.

The Kentucky Connection

Of course, like so many centuries-old drinks, it’s difficult to separate the fictitious from the factual. Some say mentions of the Mint Julep can be traced to 1770s, others say the early 1800s.

As far as the Kentucky connection, there are historians that say Henry Clay, who served as a Kentucky senator and congressman, brought the Mint Julep to Washington, DC in 1850. Clay is said to have shared the recipe with the Round Robin Bar at the Willard’s Hotel (now the Willard InterContinental). The hotel’s website makes reference to this part of the Mint Julep’s history (or legend, as it were).

Chris Morris, Master Distiller for Woodford Reserve for 20 years and now the distillery’s Master Distillery Emeritus, supports the idea, historically, that the Mint Julep was a medicinal cocktail.

“The Mint Julep has a long history, and in the 1800s it was considered a morning drink,” Morris has said. “People working on horse farms or in the horse-racing industry during this time period may wake up with aches and pains.”

It’s safe to say Morris and Woodford know their way around a Mint Julep.

Further, if you dig deep enough, you’ll come across mentions of horse jockeys taking home Julep cups as trophies. Literal trophy cups, if you will.

Consequently, given its ties to horse racing, it makes sense that the Mint Julep would one day become the Kentucky Derby‘s official drink. Of course, as this brief and (hopefully mostly) factual history shows, the Mint Julep undoubtedly had a presence at the famous race long before 1939.

Craft Your Own

Below you’ll find two recipes for your National Mint Julep Day LTO menu. However, this is one classic that people don’t seem to gatekeep much.

In fact, industry experts like Chris Morris encourage experimentation and creation of signature Mint Juleps. So, engage your bar and culinary teams, highlight flavors authentic to your menu and brand, and come up with your own variation.

To help you get started, bear in mind that while spearmint is a common ingredient, there are other species of mint available. The base spirit can also be substituted. Per some cocktail historians, genever-powered Mint Juleps were a common variation in the 1800s.

There’s nothing wrong with sticking to tradition. However, the Mint Julep practically begs for experimentation. Flavored syrups, all manner of spirits and liqueurs, garnishes… National Mint Julep Day is perfect for the LTO treatment.


Mint Julep

  • 2 oz. Bourbon
  • 0.25 oz. Simple syrup
  • 6 to 8 Mint leaves
  • Mint sprig to garnish
  • Angostura bitters to garnish (optional)
  • Crushed or shaved ice

Add simple syrup and mint leaves to Julep cup, and muddle. Next, add bourbon and crushed or shaved ice. Tightly pack ice in cup, then stir until frost builds on exterior of Julep cup. Top with more crushed or shaved ice, and form a dome on top of cup. Add mint sprig to garnish. If desired, also garnish with two or three drops of Angostura bitters.

Woodford Reserve Secretariat’s Mint Julep

This recipe is for the special Mint Julep served at this year’s Kentucky Derby.

Pack a Julep cup with crushed ice, making sure to make a dome over the lip of the cup. Add the whiskey and liqueur to a mixing glass and stir. Pour over the prepared cup. Garnish with one sprig of mint and one stalk of Virginia bluebells.

Should you prefer a more traditional build, express the oils of a mint leaf inside the cup. Add the bourbon, chestnut liqueur, and crushed ice. Garnish with more crushed ice, mint, and Virginia bluebells, then serve.

Image: Adam Jaime on Unsplash

KRG Hospitality. Bar Consultant. Nightclub. Lounge. Mixology. Cocktails.

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

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by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Leverage These 3 Sports for Growth

Leverage These 3 Sports for Growth

by David Klemt

Daniel Ricciardo in McLaren F1 race car

Sports receive more than three million mentions daily on social media and in online communities, and three sports are driving conversations.

Media-monitoring and SaaS platform Meltwater‘s recent report shows growth in media mentions and community engagement. The report, “2023 Industry Snapshot: Sports,” also identifies three sports that are growing globally.

Most restaurant and bar concepts, at least throughout North America, can benefit from sports. They have televisions, at least decent audio, and the proper licenses to air sports and other programs.

At the risk of oversimplifying, that means that any bar or restaurant can be a sports bar. Before anyone begins furiously hammering out an email to send me, I’m not saying any bar or restaurant can automatically become a great sports bar because they have TVs. I’m simply saying that operators who want to leverage sports and specific sporting events are at a good starting point to do so.

With that caveat out of the way, let’s check out what Meltwater has uncovered regarding sports.

Sports Conversations

According to Meltwater, sports is a hot topic every day of the year. On average, there are 3.16 millions mentions of sports each day.

And that’s just on a “normal” day. Last year, that number jumped to well over 12 million mentions during the FIFA World Cup.

Meltwater identifies 2022 as a particularly strong year in terms of growth for sports conversations. That boost is expected to carry into 2023, providing savvy operators with opportunities to leverage sports.

Per Meltwater, sports social media handles, hashtags, and keywords have grown by more than 20 percent. That’s significant growth.

Now, let’s look at the sports driving much of that growth.


When I say “football” in this context, I mean the sport some people call “soccer.” So, not American football, which Dave Grohl and Crown Royal pointed out is a Canadian invention during Super Bowl LVII.

For the past few decades (at least), much has been made of Americans maligning football (soccer). Well, all the tropes of that mockery may be wearing very thin.

Last year, mentions of football keywords were up 56 percent—in the US. The second-place country was Nigeria with an increase of 33 percent.

Globally, the sport’s online conversations went up by 32 percent. The day of the FIFA World Cup final? That number exploded to 630 percent. Could be smart for operators to begin planning their World Cup promotions soon.


There are some interesting stats surrounding baseball and online conversations.

Last year, conversations of this sport grew by just three percent. And for a country that claims the sport as their national pastime, American baseball convos saw a notable dropoff: a decrease of 11 percent.

However, baseball grew by nine percent in Canada in 2022. Japan saw an increase of 36 percent, and Venezuela was up 22 percent.

Unsurprisingly, the sport’s two largest organizations dominate baseball conversations.

Leading the charge, Major League Baseball mentions grew by 16 percent in 2022 globally, and by 54 percent in Japan. Right on MLB’s heels, Nippon Professional Baseball 23 percent globally and 28 percent in the US.

For those who are curious, three teams stood out in the baseball conversation: the Los Angeles Dodgers (+59 percent), New York Yankees (+55 percent), and NY Mets (+46 percent). However, LA Angels pitcher Shohei Ohtani saw truly incredible growth with an increase of 74 percent.

An important takeaway: Baseball fans in America appear quite interested in watching (or listening to) NPB. That gives operators another organization—and all their scheduled games—to leverage.

Formula 1

Ah, my favorite sport. I’m happy (for the most part) to see this motorsport growing around the world. In fact, Formula 1 keyword mentions grew 13 percent globally, and #F1 was among the hashtags used most in 2022.

On July 3, 2022, Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz, Jr. (driver #55) won the British Grand Prix at Silverstone. Red Bull’s Sergio Perez (#11) took second and Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton (#44) took third. And on this day the F1 conversation skyrocketed, growing by 338 percent.

The country leading the way for F1-related keyword mentions in 2022 was Japan, growing by a staggering 91 percent.

Much of the increase in interest in F1 can be traced back to Netflix and its Drive to Survive docu-series (some call it a reality-TV drama).

Looking at American interest in the sport, it helps that there are now three races on the calendar that take place in the US: the Miami Grand Prix, the US Grand Prix at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, TX, and the Las Vegas Grand Prix. That’s three opportunities (Miami has already happened) for American operators to take advantage of this sport’s growing popularity.

Last year, former Aston Martin driver Sebastian Vettel ($5), Red Bull driver Max Verstappen (current champion and #1), and Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc (#16) saw the most growth in terms of individual drivers.

I can only hope that my other favorite motorsport, MotoGP, starts to become more popular throughout North America.


Some operators may find that sports don’t work for their concept, such as a high-end cocktail bar or fine-dining restaurant. Those are two venue types that tend to eschew televisions as they don’t work with their vibe and aesthetic.

That said, each operator must choose how to best implement sports and related promotions. This includes understanding which sports, teams, and players their guests like. Then, of course, it’s also a matter of gauging interest.

With that determined, operators must also decide how to make sports work with their concept. Some things to consider are themed F&B menus, sports-related LTOs, FoH uniforms, and how far to go with promotions. That latter consideration will depend on how rabid a fan base each operator is targeting. A truly dedicated fan base encourages some bars to “officially” support a certain team.

Another important consideration? Will leveraging a particular sport or team alienate other guests due to rivalries or a lack of interest or comfort? Sometimes the cost of implementing promotions includes pushing away a percentage of guests on particular days.

Because I live in Las Vegas, I have an array of venues available to me around the clock. It’s conceivable that I could find a home bar or restaurant to watch F1 and MotoGP. Personally, the capability of comfortably watching my two favorite sports would boost my loyalty and visits. However, there may not be a large pool of people like me in this market. Would a bartender want to turn on an F1 race just for me?

There’s a lot to consider when choosing how to best leverage sports. The upsides include converting customers to loyal, repeat guests; a realistic idea of what to consider in terms of labor and inventory for specific days, weeks, months, and seasons; and boosts in traffic, revenue, and online engagement (which in turn can translate to more traffic and revenue).

Image: Photo by PRAT clement via Pexels

KRG Hospitality Sports & Entertainment, 2023 icon

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

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by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Ovation Reveals 5 Secrets for Growth

Ovation Reveals 5 Secrets for Growth

by David Klemt

Sign that reads "We hear you."

Restaurant guest feedback platform Ovation CEO Zack Oates reveals five secrets to what he calls the “digital table touch.”

The company touts itself as the number-one guest feedback platform. Ease of use is one reason the Ovation is viewed so favorably. Guests receive a two-question survey via SMS. Operators receive honest feedback they can use to improve guest retention and loyalty.

Those curious in learning more about the platform can check out several case studies on the Ovation website. Odds are, one of these studies matches closely with an operator’s own business.

For the purposes of this article, I’m going to focus on Oates’ 2023 Bar & Restaurant Expo education session. Getting even more granular, I’m going to drill down to Oates’ digital table touch approach to guest feedback and retention.

If Oates’ startling claim about first-time guests is true, guest retention is even more difficult than many operators would think. According to Oates, 70 percent of first-time guests don’t return to a restaurant. That number is, simply put, too damn high. Fifty percent is too high.

Feedback Reality

Let’s be honest about in-person feedback. While there are some honest guests out there, for some reason people tend to leave without being honest during their visits. In the moment, most of us will say “great” or “very good” when asked by a server or manager about our restaurant experience.

This is a compelling phenomenon. Per Oates, 15 percent of dine-in orders have issues. And yet most guests won’t say about an issue during their visit. That rate doubles to 30 percent for delivery orders, by the way.

Being totally transparent, Oates says he behaves the same in restaurants. He’s the CEO of a restaurant feedback platform and he’ll still say everything is fine during a visit even when it isn’t. So, while physical table touches are important, they’re likely not giving an operator an accurate picture of what’s going on in their dining room.

In fact, Oates says rather bluntly that “table touches are out of touch.” Further, they’re not scalable, off-premises, honest, or capable of fixing root issues, in his opinion.

Likewise, long-form surveys. According to Oates, long feedback surveys have an abysmal take rate: 0.01 percent. At that point, the rate may as well be zero. Online reviews, as may operators likely know, don’t really represent most guests.

The best solution to secure honest, actionable feedback appears to be Ovation’s SMS-based process.

Secret #1: Make Measurement Frictionless

Hot take: The easier a thing is to do, the more people will participate.

So, operators who want collect valuable guest feedback need to make it simple. If a guest orders delivery, operators should stuff carryout bags and top boxes with a call to action. For in-person dining, they should add a feedback CTA to table toppers. QR codes can make the process very easy. CTAs need to be visible and simple to complete.

The winning formula seems to be a two-question survey and collecting guest data. So, operators should consider enrolling guests who participate and leave feedback in a $100 gift card draw (or something similar).

Secret #2: Drive 5-star Reviews

Oates says that operators should push guests to rate their experiences on review sites. Doing so not only results in collecting valuable feedback, it can boost reviews and increase a restaurant’s visibility. The more discoverable a restaurant is, the more traffic it can potentially see.

Also, a note on actual five-star reviews: that’s not the best score. People tend to distrust perfect scores and one-star reviews. Per Oates, the best score is 4.7 stars, and operators should aim for at least a 4.0.

Secret #3: Respond to Feedback

This means good and bad feedback, and in a timely manner. Per Oates, one bad review reaches 30 potential guests. So, it’s best to address the situation as quickly as possible—if an operator can do so without losing their cool.

To ensure that emotions don’t prevail over rational responses, follow the Three Cs of Bad Review Recovery:

  1. Collected.
  2. Compassionate.
  3. Call to action.

Remember, people want to feel important. When they leave a bad review the underlying feeling driving the review is likely a sense that they’ve been disrespected. Operators attempting to recover from a bad review need to make the reviewer feel acknowledged and important.

Secret #4: Discover and Act on Trends

A business term that has been making the rounds for years now is “kaizen.” This is the concept of everyone in an organization working toward making incremental improvements to the business.

Savvy operators will set aside their egos, find trends within the feedback they receive, and work to improve on any shortcomings.

Secret #5: Text Guests to Bring Them Back

As I’ve said before, if you really want to meet guests where they are, reach them on the phones in their pockets. However, Oates has more advice than simply, “Text them surveys.”

To boost participation, tempt guests with an offer. Oates says to make the offer a good one. So, operators should consider the following:

  • Come up with an offer and put it first.
  • Make it a good offer: “The first X amount of people to complete this survey will receive 15 percent off their next visit.”
  • Track participation via a link.

While operators can leverage each of the above secrets on their own, Ovation’s digital table touch process is seamless and easy to implement. Either way, collecting honest guest feedback and acting on it is one of the most effective methods for improving guest retention.

Image: Jon Tyson on Unsplash

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3 Ways to Build Revenue on Mother’s Day

3 Ways Restaurants Can Build Revenue This Mother’s Day

by Austen Asadorian

Tattoo-style rose with "Mom" ribbon

With Mother’s Day quickly approaching, there’s no doubt that operators across the country are preparing for the celebratory—yet extremely busy—day.

During their preparations, it’s important that operators find and incorporate new tools and innovative marketing tactics. Doing so will not only fill seats, it will ensure they capitalize on a key opportunity to drive incredible revenue.

Below are three simple but powerful ways operators can generate revenue and loyalty on—and beyond—this Mother’s Day.

Encourage Reservations & Offer Upgrades

An easy way to make this busy day seamless for guests—and, ultimately, staff—is to encourage and allow guests to make a reservation before they arrive. Reservations give operators insight into who will be dining with them, help optimize seatings and covers, and provide a idea of how much to order to eliminate food waste if a special menu is being offered.

Using a reservation system also provides operators with the opportunity to offer diners upgrades during the booking process, even including prepayment should they want to go that route. This not only allows operators to earn additional revenue before a guest even visits, but also a convenient way to offer guests peace of mind knowing they’ve handled that “something special” for Mom way before the big day.

These upgrades don’t have to be anything crazy or extreme (although that’s always an option). In fact, according to the National Restaurant Association, consumers want special touches and discounts over everything else. So, an upgrade can be something as simple as a beautiful flower arrangement waiting on the table to a special off-menu dessert brought out at the end of the meal.

Use Email & Social Media to Your Advantage

Properly promoting Mother’s Day offerings to guests is extremely important because if no one knows about it, who will come?

Operators should utilize tools like email marketing to send personalized communications to their guest database promoting the venue’s Mother’s Day reservation availability or special offerings. Better yet, these tools can be used to offer loyal guests reservations before they open to the general public, further creating a special experience for those faithful diners.

In the same vein, operators should harness the power of social media, too. Operators can target paid marketing efforts on social channels like Facebook and Instagram to drive even more awareness and revenue for their restaurant by creating an event, including the details of the activities, specials, or Mother’s Day promotions, and exporting the names of top guests and email data.

Surprise Them with a Second Visit

While Mother’s Day is the focus right now, it doesn’t stop there for operators. To drive the revenue they need, it’s important to turn these celebratory diners into repeat guests.

To do so, operators should consider offering Mother’s Day diners complimentary gift cards or discounts (even via email post-visit) to bring them back. This could be for an upcoming graduation, Father’s Day (so Dad can also get the love), or even for a future birthday.

This “surprise and delight” factor is one of the easiest strategies to capitalize on holiday traffic and get diners to return to a restaurant once again as a loyal guests.

Here’s to You, Mom

Moms should be celebrated every day, but especially on Mother’s Day, and it’s important to make sure they have the best experience when dining out.

By incorporating simple tactics like offering reservations and custom upgrades or even a special surprise at the end of the meal, operators not only succeed in making the day memorable, but create a guest who will return over and over again.

About Austen Asadorian

Austen Asadorian is the Vice President of Sales at SevenRooms, where he is tasked with supporting SevenRooms’ global expansion efforts and accelerating the company’s goal of being the best-in-class solution for hospitality operators globally. Prior to joining SevenRooms, Austen was Peloton’s Director of Sales, leading the company’s go-to-market strategy for retail growth and expansion. He started his career at Hillstone Restaurant Group where he cut his teeth learning how to run efficient and profitable restaurants at scale. Austen was ultimately promoted into an executive role where he oversaw the company’s Manager in Training Program and Back of House Operations. Austen graduated from the Culinary Institute of America (CIA).

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Program for Unique Holidays: May 2023

Program for Unique Holidays: May 2023

by David Klemt

"Think about things differently" neon sign

Do you want to stand out from from other restaurants and bars in your area? Change how you think about your May holiday promotions.

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

Pay attention to the “weird” or unique holidays to raise eyebrows, carve out a niche for your restaurant or bar, and attract more guests. Why do what everyone else is already doing? Why program only around the same holidays as everyone else?

Of course, you shouldn’t try to celebrate every holiday, strange or otherwise. Focus on the days that are authentic to your brand; resonate with your guests; and help you grab attention on social media.

You’ll find suggestions for promotions below. However, the idea behind our monthly holiday promotions roundup is to inspire you and your team to get creative and come up with unique programming ideas.

For our April 2023 holidays list, click here.

May 5: National Silence The Shame Day

Much progress has been made when it comes to reducing the stigma around mental health issues. However, there’s still much more work to do.

The focus of this holiday is just that: removing that stigma. You can use this holiday to encourage the conversation, raise awareness for issues close to you and your team, or to raise funds for a charitable mental health organization.

May 6: World Naked Gardening Day

Okay, so, unless you own a very niche restaurant, bar, or resort, please don’t celebrate this holiday naked while at work. Instead, celebrate the spirit of this holiday: reconnecting with and honoring nature.

One easy way to do this is to feature cocktails made and garnished with fresh ingredients: rosemary, citrus, juices, etc. And again, you can raise money for any number of conservation organizations dedicated to safeguarding natural resources.

May 8: National Have a Coke Day

Rum and Coke. Bourbon and Coke. Jack and Coke. Whiskey and Coke. If you’re a Coke restaurant or bar, you know what to do on this holiday. If you’re not, well… I guess you can program against it and launch National Don’t Have a Coke Day.

May 10: National Third Shift Workers Day

Depending on your hours of operation, this is an easy holiday to program around. To offer up just a few ideas: healthy meal options; restorative beverages; third-shift-specific LTOs.

May 16: National Do Something Good For Your Neighbor Day

Restaurants, bars, and hotels are the heart and soul of communities around the world. Use this day to give back to those who support you.

May 17: National Pack Rat Day

I’m sure if we all look around our homes we’ll see that maybe we have too much stuff. This is another excellent holiday to give back to our communities.

One way to do this is to host a clothing, canned food, or other resource drive. Donations can be rewarded with LTO items to encourage participation.

May 20: National be a Millionaire Day

Well, you probably can’t turn your guests into millionaires. However, you can certainly help your guests drink like one. While you can shine a spotlight on your super- and ultra-premium spirits, there’s another way: the Millionaire cocktail.

  • 2 oz. Bourbon
  • 0.75 oz. Grand Marnier
  • 0.25 oz. Absinthe or pastis
  • 0.5 oz. Grenadine
  • 0.5 oz. Egg white
  • 0.5 oz. Lemon juice, freshly squeezed
  • Freshly grated nutmeg to garnish

Prepare a coupe by adding ice to chill it. Dry shake all the ingredients, minus the nutmeg. Add ice and shake again until well chilled, then double-strain the prepared coupe. Garnish by grating nutmeg over the top of the glass.

Want to kick things up a notch? Offer the Billionaire cocktail:

  • 2 oz. Baker’s 107-proof bourbon
  • 1 oz. Lemon juice, freshly squeezed
  • 0.5 oz. Grenadine
  • 0.5 oz. Simple syrup
  • 0.25 oz. Absinthe bitters
  • Lemon wheel to garnish

Prepare a cocktail glass by adding ice to chill it. Add all ingredients except lemon wheel to a shaker with ice. Shake until well chilled, then strain into the cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon wheel.

May 25: Sing Out Day

I mean, if there was ever a day to promote karaoke, this is the one. Even better if you can design a competition around it to maximize engagement.

May 26: World Lindy Hop Day

Alright, I’m going to do it—I’m going to suggest you leverage TikTok and Instagram. The Lindy Hop is a dance, I can tell you right now that there’s at least a fair chance that people will be featuring this dance (or variations of it) on social media. So, time for you, your team, and guests who want to participate to learn the Lindy Hop.

May 30: National Mint Julep Day

There are a few easy ways to celebrate National Mint Julep Day. The first, of course, is to perfect your venue’s Mint Julep. The second? Offer a variety of Mint Julep riffs: chocolate, peach, tequila, mezcal, sage, basil… Come up with three or four and your LTO is all set.

A third way is to feature this year’s Kentucky Derby $1,000 Mint Julep Experience recipe, Secretariat’s Mint Julep:

Pack a Julep cup with crushed ice, making sure to make a dome over the lip of the cup. Add the whiskey and liqueur to a mixing glass and stir. Pour over the prepared cup. Garnish with one sprig of mint and one stalk of Virginia bluebells. ($1,000 price tag optional.)

Image: Ivan Bertolazzi on Pexels

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Cinco de Mayo Isn’t Independence Day

Cinco de Mayo Isn’t Mexico’s Independence Day

by David Klemt

Heroica Puebla de Zaragoza Puebla, Puebla, Mexico

When planning and executing Cinco de Mayo promotions and menus it’s important to be respectful and understand what this day commemorates.

One step toward honoring this holiday rather than making a mockery of it? Knowing that Cinco de Mayo honors the Battle of Puebla, which took place in 1862.

This day isn’t—and I can’t stress this enough—Mexican Independence Day.

Fight for Independence

Mexican Independence Day is September 16, not May 5. Mexico was also called “New Spain” when the land was a colony under Spanish rule. And by most historical accounts, this 300-year rule wasn’t benevolent.

A Catholic priest named Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, colloquially known as Father Hidalgo, dared to call for independence on September 16, 1810. Father Hidalgo rang the bell of his church in Dolores and delivered the famous “Grito de Dolores” speech (“Shout (or Cry) of Dolores).

It took over a decade of ferocious, brutal fighting for Mexico to earn its independence. Spain withdrew from the Mexican War of Independence on August 24, 1821. On that same date, Spain recognized Mexico as independent country. Mexico honors their independence by celebrating the day that Father Hidalgo, the Father of Mexican Independence, delivered his rousing speech.

Battle of Puebla

Just over four decades after defeating Spain, Mexico would be forced into another pivotal fight. I won’t get into the entire history here but France invaded Mexico.

Initially, Spain and the United Kingdom supported the invasion. Further, much of the world believed France would easily and quickly emerge victorious. After all, France sent a military force with superior equipment.

This wasn’t the first time France invaded Mexico, and it wouldn’t be the last. That’s another important detail to keep in mind: Cinco de Mayo isn’t Mexican Independence Day, and it doesn’t the mark the end of the Franco-Mexican War.

Cinco de Mayo, mainly celebrated in the Mexican state of Puebla, is about national pride. Outnumbered two to one and outgunned, Mexico forced the retreat of a military force that hadn’t experienced defeat for several decades on May 5, 1862.

The war didn’t end until the French withdrew from Mexico in 1867. During this time, the American Civil War was raging. Additionally, United States policy at the time was to remain neutral regarding wars in other countries. That said, historians point to Secretary of State William H. Seward as helping encourage France’s withdrawal.

However, I’d posit that it’s likely fierce resistance and failure to achieve victory easily over Mexican military forces that inspired France to abandon their campaign in Mexico.

Celebrate with Respect

It’s generally accepted that the first Cinco de Mayo celebrations in the US took place in California. Well over a century after Mexico’s victory at the Battle of Puebla, restaurants and bars across America were leveraging the holiday.

Again, it’s important to remember that Cinco de Mayo isn’t celebrated the same way in Mexico as it is the US. There are celebrations in Puebla but overall, it’s seen as a minor holiday.

When planning Cinco de Mayo promotions, it’s important that operators and their teams be respectful. May 5, 1862 wasn’t a party—hundreds of people died during the Battle of Puebla. Perhaps this comparison will help: Americans should know better than to say, “Happy Memorial Day,” on Memorial Day. It’s a day of mourning and remembering those who sacrificed their lives fighting for the country.

So, please celebrate with respect. Respect for Mexico and respect for Mexican culture and heritage. Don’t have your team put on sombreros, don fake mustaches, shake maracas, or engage in any other ridiculously racist stereotyping. I shouldn’t have to say this but don’t engage with racial or cultural stereotypes any day, ever, for your marketing and promotions.

Along those lines, don’t speak Spanish disrespectfully. That includes rejecting “Cinco de Drinko” or “Gringo de Mayo” in your marketing.

That said, if Mexican food and beverage staples make sense for your concept, feature them. Does your kitchen team make amazing, authentic tamales, tacos, and other items? Awesome. Showcase your tequilas, mezcals, and Margaritas. Offer the Batanga (but probably don’t give guests the knife).

Just be thoughtful and respectful with your Cinco de Mayo promotions.

Image: Jorge__ Medina_ on Pexels

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