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Meet Customers Where They Are, Part 3

Meet Customers Where They Are, Part 3

by David Klemt

Person using Google search on their phone

If you truly want to meet your potential guests where they are, you need to be as discoverable as possible via mobile and desktop search.

The first part of this series discusses meeting guests in secondary and tertiary markets. Also, part one recommends looking into suburbs and watching moving data.

Part two looks into the importance of being top of mind for delivery, takeout, and pickup guests. Even with the current demand for socializing and in-person dining, off-premise dining guests are an important focus.

Now, I’m talking about being discoverable. Why? Because of where your guests are: their phones and desktops.

So, there are few crucial elements of your business to consider. Your website still matters. You need to ensure you own your venue listings. It’s crucial that your location information is up to date across platforms.

And now, meeting guests where they are will mean improving the odds that AI chatbots recommend your business.

Another ongoing KRG Hospitality series is our conversations with ChatGPT, Bing AI, and now Google Bard. It’s our chat with the latter that shows the importance of improving online discoverability.

Below, interactions with Bard and ChatGPT about using AI chatbots to discover restaurants, bars, and hotels.

Google Bard

Can people use Bard to discover new restaurants and bars, and book reservations?

Yes, people can use Bard to discover new restaurants and bars, and book reservations. Bard can access and process information from the real world through Google Search and keep its response consistent with search results. For example, if you ask Bard to find a restaurant with good Italian food in San Francisco, it will look for restaurants that have been rated highly by other users and that serve Italian food. Bard can also book reservations for you through OpenTable.

What criteria do you use to determine the best restaurant, bar or hotel for someone asking you to conduct a search of such businesses?

I use a variety of criteria to determine the best restaurant, bar, or hotel for someone asking me to conduct a search of such businesses. Some of the most important criteria include:

  • Customer reviews. I look at customer reviews to see what other people have said about the restaurant, bar, or hotel. This helps me get a sense of the quality of the food, service, and atmosphere.
  • Location. I also consider the location of the restaurant, bar, or hotel. I want to make sure that it is in a convenient location for the person I am recommending it to.
  • Price. I consider the price of the restaurant, bar, or hotel. I want to make sure that it is within the person’s budget.
  • Type of food. If the person is looking for a specific type of food, I will try to find a restaurant that serves that type of food.
  • Atmosphere. I also consider the atmosphere of the restaurant, bar, or hotel. If the person is looking for a casual or formal atmosphere, I will try to find a restaurant that fits their needs.
  • Other criteria. I may also consider other criteria, such as the hours of operation, the availability of parking, and the presence of accessibility features.

By taking all of these factors into account, I can help the person I am recommending it to find the best restaurant, bar, or hotel for their needs.

How can a restaurant, bar or hotel improve the odds that Bard would recommend them to someone?

There are a few things that a restaurant, bar, or hotel can do to improve the odds that I would recommend them to someone:

  • Provide excellent customer service. This means being friendly, helpful, and responsive to customer needs. It also means going above and beyond to make sure that customers have a positive experience.
  • Offer a unique or memorable experience. This could be anything from a special menu item to a unique atmosphere. Something that makes the restaurant, bar, or hotel stand out from the competition.
  • Be consistent. This means providing the same level of service and quality every time a customer visits. It also means being reliable and keeping promises.
  • Be responsive to feedback. This means listening to what customers have to say and taking their feedback into account. It also means being willing to make changes based on feedback.

By following these tips, restaurants, bars, and hotels can increase the odds that I would recommend them to someone.

If I asked you to find me the best cocktail bar in Las Vegas for early evening drinks and the best upscale restaurant for a late dinner in Las Vegas, what would you recommend?

Sure, I can help you with that. Here are my recommendations for the best cocktail bar and upscale restaurant in Las Vegas for early evening drinks and late dinner, respectively:

  • Cocktail bar: The Vesper Bar at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas. This award-winning bar offers a wide variety of cocktails, as well as a beautiful atmosphere. It is perfect for a romantic evening or a night out with friends.
  • Upscale restaurant: The Dorsey at The Venetian Las Vegas. This Michelin-starred restaurant offers a tasting menu of modern American cuisine. The atmosphere is elegant and the service is top-notch. It is perfect for a special occasion or a romantic dinner.

I hope this helps!


Can people use ChatGPT to discover new restaurants and bars, and book reservations?

As an AI language model, I can provide recommendations and information about restaurants and bars, but I cannot directly book reservations for you. However, I can suggest several online platforms that allow you to book reservations at restaurants and bars, such as OpenTable, Resy, and Yelp Reservations. These platforms allow you to search for restaurants and bars based on various criteria such as location, cuisine, price range, and availability, and make reservations online.

If you’re looking for restaurant recommendations, I can provide suggestions based on your preferences such as cuisine, location, price range, and other factors. Additionally, I can provide you with information such as hours of operation, contact information, and customer reviews. Please let me know if there’s anything specific you’re looking for and I’ll do my best to assist you!

How do you help ChatGPT users find the best restaurants, bars, and hotels?

As an AI language model, I can help ChatGPT users find the best restaurants, bars, and hotels by using natural language processing and machine learning algorithms to understand the user’s preferences and provide personalized recommendations.

To find the best restaurants and bars, I can consider various factors such as cuisine, location, price range, ambiance, and customer reviews. I can also take into account any dietary restrictions or preferences the user may have, such as vegan or gluten-free options.

To find the best hotels, I can consider factors such as location, price range, amenities, and customer reviews. I can also help users find hotels based on their preferred style of accommodation, such as luxury, boutique, or budget.

In addition to recommendations, I can also provide users with useful information such as hours of operation, contact information, and directions. I can also assist with booking reservations or finding deals and discounts if available.

How can a restaurant, bar or hotel improve the odds that ChatGPT would recommend them to someone?

There are several ways a restaurant, bar, or hotel can improve the odds of being recommended by ChatGPT to someone:

  1. Positive Customer Reviews: Positive customer reviews are one of the most critical factors in ChatGPT’s recommendation algorithm. Encourage your customers to leave positive reviews on platforms such as Google, Yelp, or Tripadvisor, as these can greatly improve your chances of being recommended.
  2. High-Quality Photos: High-quality photos of your establishment, food, and drinks can make a big difference in attracting potential customers. Ensure that your website and social media pages have high-quality images that showcase the ambiance, menu, and overall experience of your establishment.
  3. Accurate and Up-to-Date Information: Ensure that your establishment’s information is accurate and up-to-date on various platforms. This includes your address, phone number, hours of operation, and menu.
  4. Responding to Customer Queries: Respond promptly to customer queries or complaints on various platforms, including social media. This shows that you value customer feedback and are willing to make improvements to provide an excellent experience.

Offering Unique Experiences: Offering unique experiences or features, such as signature cocktails or locally sourced ingredients, can help your establishment stand out and increase the likelihood of being recommended by ChatGPT.

If I asked you to find me the best cocktail bar in Las Vegas for early evening drinks and the best upscale restaurant for a late dinner in Las Vegas, what would you recommend?

For the best cocktail bar in Las Vegas for early evening drinks, I would recommend The Chandelier at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas. It is a three-story bar with a stunning chandelier centerpiece, offering a wide range of signature cocktails and a luxurious ambiance. It’s perfect for early evening drinks with friends or colleagues.

For the best upscale restaurant for a late dinner in Las Vegas, I would recommend Joel Robuchon at MGM Grand. It is a Michelin-starred restaurant with an elegant dining room and exceptional French cuisine. They offer a variety of tasting menus, including a vegetarian option, and a vast wine selection. The service is impeccable, and the atmosphere is perfect for a romantic dinner or a special occasion.


First, the bar and restaurant recommendations. As a Las Vegas local for creeping up on two decades, they’re solid. I think a first-timer would find them helpful and be happy with those selections.

More importantly, however, is what each bot reveals about discoverability. Operators need to make sure they’re responding to reviews quickly and properly; that they’re listings are under their control and the information is accurate; and that they’re courting reviews in the 4.0- to 4.7- star range. (More on that rating range in the near future.)

Then there are the other important considerations, such as pricing, cuisine, and atmosphere. When taking control of listings, operators must categorize their venues accurately.

Technology innovations often present a paradox. Ostensibly, technology makes lives easier. However, many operators likely find that much of tech makes things more difficult.

Leveraging tech often requires more work on the operator side—innovations often make things simpler for our guests. Of course, tech can make things easier for operators, it just takes a lot of work initially.

As people rush to develop AI—some say too quickly—it’s going to be top of mind for people searching for restaurants, bars, nightclubs, eatertainment venues, hotels, etc. Operators are going to have to meet their guests where they are: search engines and chatbots.

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by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Yes, We Finally Spoke with Google Bard

Yes, We Finally Spoke with Google Bard

by David Klemt

Person using Google Bard AI on their phone

Come on, now—you must know that after speaking with ChatGPT and Bing AI and sharing those chats our conversation with Google Bard is next.

Perhaps because its launch is more recent, Bard is slower to answer than ChatGPT. I can’t know for certain but it’s reasonable to assume eager users are overwhelming Bard.

As far as the user experience, I like that Google includes a disclaimer about interacting with Bard. Unsurprisingly, Google warns that Bard can provide inaccurate, misleading, or false information. Interestingly, the company also recommends people “Google it” if they’re unsure about the answers Bard offers.

Below you’ll find the same questions I asked of ChatGPT in January and Bing AI in March. Not surprisingly, Bard “believes” robots and AI are more beneficial than detrimental for our industry.

Please write 400 to 500 words about robots and artificial intelligence working in restaurants, from the perspective of robots and AI.

As a robot working in a restaurant, I have a unique perspective on the challenges and opportunities that automation presents. On the one hand, it can be difficult to compete with humans who are more flexible and creative. On the other hand, automation can help restaurants to reduce costs and improve efficiency.

One of the biggest challenges for robots in restaurants is the need to be able to adapt to changing circumstances. For example, if a customer makes a special request, a robot needs to be able to adjust its plans accordingly. This can be difficult, as robots are often programmed to follow a set of instructions.

Another challenge is the need to be able to interact with customers in a natural and engaging way. Customers expect robots to be polite and helpful, and they should be able to answer questions and provide assistance. This can be difficult, as robots are often not as good at understanding human language as humans are.

Despite these challenges, there are also many opportunities for robots in restaurants. Automation can help restaurants to reduce costs by eliminating the need for human employees. This can be especially beneficial in areas with high labor costs. Automation can also help restaurants to improve efficiency by reducing the time it takes to prepare and serve food. This can lead to shorter wait times for customers and higher profits for restaurants.

In addition, automation can help restaurants to provide a more consistent and reliable experience for customers. Robots are not subject to the same fatigue and errors as humans, and they can work 24 hours a day without a break. This can lead to better food quality and faster service.

Overall, I believe that the opportunities for robots in restaurants outweigh the challenges. Automation can help restaurants to reduce costs, improve efficiency, and provide a better experience for customers. As the technology continues to develop, I believe that robots will play an increasingly important role in the restaurant industry.

From the perspective of artificial intelligence, the use of robots in restaurants is a fascinating development. AI has the potential to revolutionize the restaurant industry, and it is already being used to automate tasks such as food preparation, order taking, and delivery.

AI can also be used to personalize the restaurant experience for customers. For example, AI can be used to recommend dishes that customers are likely to enjoy based on their past orders. AI can also be used to create virtual assistants that can answer customer questions and provide support.

The use of AI in restaurants is still in its early stages, but it has the potential to revolutionize the industry. AI can help restaurants to improve efficiency, reduce costs, and provide a better experience for customers.

Can you explain to me, in 300 to 400 words, what the ethical implications are for restaurant, bar, and hotel operators using artificial intelligence and robots to complete tasks?

Sure. Here are some of the ethical implications for restaurant, bar, and hotel operators using artificial intelligence and robots to complete tasks:

  • Job displacement: The use of artificial intelligence and robots could lead to job displacement, as some tasks that are currently done by humans could be done by machines. This could lead to increased unemployment and reduced income for workers.
  • Bias: Artificial intelligence and robots could be biased, as they are often trained on data that is collected from human sources. This could lead to unfair treatment of customers, employees, and other stakeholders.
  • Privacy and security: The use of artificial intelligence and robots could raise concerns about privacy and security, as these systems could collect and store data about customers and employees. This data could be used to track customers’ movements or to monitor employees’ activities.
  • Safety: The use of artificial intelligence and robots could raise concerns about safety, as these systems could malfunction or make mistakes. This could lead to injuries or even death.
  • Customer experience: The use of artificial intelligence and robots could have a negative impact on the customer experience, as some customers may find it unsettling or uncomfortable to interact with machines. Additionally, customers may feel that the use of robots and artificial intelligence detracts from the human element of the service experience.

It is important for restaurant, bar, and hotel operators to consider these ethical implications before implementing artificial intelligence and robots in their businesses. By carefully considering these issues, operators can help to ensure that the use of these technologies is done in a responsible and ethical manner.

Are there risks that human designers and engineers will introduce bias to customer-facing artificial intelligence and robots?

Yes, there are risks that human designers and engineers will introduce bias to customer-facing artificial intelligence and robots. This is because humans are inherently biased, and this bias can be reflected in the way that we design and engineer systems.

One way that bias can be introduced is through the data that is used to train artificial intelligence systems. If the data is not representative of the population that the system will be interacting with, then the system may be biased. For example, if an artificial intelligence system is trained on data from primarily white and wealthy customers, it may have difficulty understanding and serving customers from other backgrounds.

Another way that bias can be introduced is through the algorithms that are used to control artificial intelligence systems. If the algorithms are not designed to be fair, then the system may be biased. For example, if an algorithm is designed to favor customers who spend more money, then customers who spend less money may be treated unfairly.

It is important for human designers and engineers to be aware of the risks of bias and to take steps to mitigate these risks. This can be done by using a variety of methods, such as using diverse data sets, designing fair algorithms, and testing systems for bias. By taking these steps, we can help to ensure that artificial intelligence and robots are used in a fair and ethical manner.

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by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

5 Books to Read this Month: April 2023

5 Books to Read this Month: April 2023

by David Klemt

Flipping through an open book

Our engaging and informative April book selections will help you take your bar, restaurant or hotel to higher levels, and develop your leadership skills.

To review the book recommendations from March 2023, click here.

Let’s jump in!

Unreasonable Hospitality: The Remarkable Power of Giving People More Than They Expect

When Will Guidara took over the famous Eleven Madison Park, the restaurant had just two stars and he was only in his mid-twenties. Before his 40th birthday, the changes and strategies he implemented helped the restaurant earn the title of the Best Restaurant in the World.

One of cornerstone’s of Guidara’s was “bespoke hospitality.” He and his team truly went above and beyond. Examples of the Eleven Madison Park team’s approach to hospitality illustrate just how over the top they went to deliver memorable guest experiences. If you’re looking for inspiration to step up your hospitality, pick up or download Unreasonable Hospitality today.

Blue Ocean Strategy, Expanded Edition: How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make the Competition Irrelevant

I’m going to address the viability of the blue ocean strategy before getting into the book. Creating a hospitality concept without competition isn’t really feasible. Go too far into “blue waters” and there won’t be any “fish” (traffic). And where, exactly, would one put their restaurant, bar, or hotel where there’s no competition but still enough traffic to generate a profit?

Those issues addressed, this book is still valuable to owners and operators. One need not eliminate competition completely to take lessons from the blue ocean strategy. Businesses must still differentiate themselves from competitors, and they must look for unique opportunities to help them stand out. Blue Ocean Strategy may not work perfectly but much is still very helpful.

Contagious Culture: Show Up, Set the Tone, and Intentionally Create an Organization that Thrives

Anese Cavanaugh’s Contagious Culture addresses a topic that we often discuss with clients, in our articles, and during speaking engagements: workplace culture. From large corporations and regional or national restaurant chains, to independent restaurants, bars, and hotels, culture will make or break an organization. Cavanaugh’s techniques will improve your workplace culture and energize your team, an undeniable key to success.

From Amazon: “This is Contagious Culture, a game-changing guide to transforming corporate culture from within, developed by the award-winning creator of The IEP Method to strengthen your ‘Intentional Energetic Presence.’ This is more than a leadership book―this is your future calling.”

Bar Hacks: Developing The Fundamentals for an Epic Bar

Doug Radkey is the founder, president, and lead strategist of KRG Hospitality. He’s also a hospitality industry speaker, educator, and author. This is his first book, Bar Hacks, which is also the name of the podcast we produce through KRG Hospitality.

Now, while the title states this book is a guide for developing and running an epic bar, the strategies carry over to restaurants, hotels, and other hospitality concepts. It’s difficult—if not impossible—to elevate one’s skills and service without first mastering the fundamentals. Whether you’re new to the industry or are a veteran who feels the need to reset and revisit the fundamentals, Bar Hacks is your guide.

Hacking the New Normal: Hitting the Reset Button on the Hospitality Industry

There’s a first book, which means there must be at least one other one, right? Right! Hacking the New Normal is Doug’s second book.

This book is a direct response to the pandemic, what it did to the industry, and the issues many operators would prefer to ignore. However, the devastation is so great that ignoring the changes that should have been made decades ago isn’t a viable option. With a spotlight on hybrid business models, real estate, profit margins, technology, guest experiences, culture, diversity, and mindset, Hacking the New Normal will position you for success in our new hospitality landscape.

Image: Mikołaj on Unsplash

KRG Hospitality. Consultant. Consulting. Culinary. Bar. Hotel. Mixology. Technology.

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Program for Unique Holidays: April 2023

Program for Unique Holidays: April 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 April holiday promotions.

Several holidays are set against every date on the calendar, and April 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 March 2023 holidays list, click here.

April 6: International Day of Sport For Development and Peace

Sure, sports can spark some bitter rivalries. However, it can also bring people together. Whether you choose to air sporting events this day (make sure you have the proper licensing to do so) or create a themed LTO menu, encourage guests to set aside their differences and come together at your restaurant or bar.

If you’re operating a sports- or game-focused eatertainment concept, this is also an excellent day to host a friendly tournament. Who knows? It could become a weekly, monthly, quarterly, or yearly promotion if it takes off.

April 7: National No Housework Day

Your guests are likely already burnt out on spring cleaning. Tell them to toss aside their brooms, mops, and sponges and reward themselves with a visit to your venue.

April 8: National All is Ours Day

I’ll bet that if you think about it for a moment you can come up with at least one incredible element or landmark in your community. This is the day to celebrate it with your guests. National All is Ours Day is dedicated to appreciating what we have and taking an adventure, however big or small.

April 10: Dyngus Day

This isn’t necessarily an “odd” holiday. However, those who didn’t grow up in a community with a significant Polish presence may not know about it.

On Dyngus Day, people who take part in Lent get to indulge and blow off some steam. Common food items enjoyed on this day are Polish hot dogs, potato pancakes (placki ziemniaczane), dumplings (pierogi), and donuts filled with custard (paczki).

April 11: National Barbershop Quartet Day

If you search for one hard enough, you can probably find a local barbershop quartet that sings current-day hits. It could be pretty cool to have them entertain your guests…

April 13: National Make Lunch Count Day

This is the day to really impress with an incredible lunch to boost pickup, delivery, and in-person traffic for this daypart.

April 23: National Take a Chance Day

Do you have a food or beverage item you have yet to put on your menu? Something you want to test but just haven’t gotten around to it yet? This is the day to entice your guests with something new and encourage them to try it. It’s also the perfect time to collect feedback to either revise the item, add it right away, or move on from it.

April 27: National Tell a Story Day

So, this day may be better served as a deadline for you. Do your website, social media channels, menu, and venue design tell your restaurant or bar’s story? If an honest assessment shows that they don’t, use April 27 as a deadline to tell your brand’s story to your guests. Storytelling is a powerful engagement tool, so make sure yours is dialed in.

April 29: National Sense of Smell Day

Personally, I’d program around this day with the help of brand reps. A tasting or guided pairing that engages the sense of smell can really wow your guests, delivering an incredible and memorable experience.

April 30: National Bubble Tea Day

Bubble tea isn’t the most unique beverage. However, learning how to craft boozy bubble tea drinks for your spring and summer menus…that’s a great way to celebrate this holiday and show off your bar team’s creativity.

Image: Ivan Bertolazzi on Pexels

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by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Empower Your Team to Make Decisions

Do You Empower Your Team to Make Decisions?

by Kim Richardson

Chess pieces on chess board in grayscale

Empowerment is about so much more than trusting someone to follow clearly defined rules; you must learn to trust your team’s judgement.

Yes, even when things don’t go according to plan. If you’re only training your team on the “rules,” you’re doing a disservice to them and yourself. So, let’s have a little chat about empowerment. What does it mean to you? What are your expectations of your team when you tell them they are empowered?

Looking back throughout your own work history, have you ever had a job where your boss told you that you were empowered to make decisions, but you didn’t actually know what to do or how to make decisions? Did anyone ever explain “the how” of decision making to you?

Now, look at yourself as a leader. Have you ever had employees that you’ve told are empowered to make decisions, yet they get a manager every time someone needs something out of the ordinary? Are you explaining to your staff “the how” of decision making, along with your expectations?

It’s frustrating to feel like the house might fall down when you’re not in it. That’s no way to operate a business. We all want our staff to be able to make educated decisions when we’re not around. We shouldn’t have to hold their hands and be part of every single decision.

Still, there are times when, left to their own devices, a team member doesn’t make the decision you’d want them to make. This makes owners and leadership team members feel as though they must be at work every second.

So, how do you move away from micromanagement and learn to trust your team’s decision making?

Leverage Teachable Moments

You’ll never be able to give an example of every possible situation that may arise. Therefore, you’ll never be able to train your team on everything that they’ll encounter on any shift.

How do you tell someone how to handle situations when you’re not around? You don’t, and I don’t suggest you even try. Instead, you need to instill a sense of empowerment in your team.

However, “empowerment” is just a word if you’re not educating your team. You need to teach staff how to make good decisions. And how do you even start to do that? Cash in on all the teachable moments that happen throughout the day!

Once upon a time we were all new to this industry. I’m sure you have a few stories of some mistakes you’ve made along the way. I know I certainly do.

Think back to those situations. Did someone explain to you why you made a mistake? More importantly, did they then help you understand what to do next time? Or did they just get mad and make you feel like a failure?

I’ve had the privilege of working with some amazing people over the years. There are several people that really put effort into teaching me. The different things they taught me helped me to understand the ins and outs of decision making, even in situations I know very little about.

Example 1: The Restaurant

For my first job ever, I was a hostess at an Italian restaurant and pizzeria. During the training process I was told to rotate sections when seating tables. That’s easy enough, right? Well…maybe not.

Sometimes I’d see exceptions to this rule. The same section would get sat twice in a row, for example. I watched exceptions to “the rule” get made with no clue as to why.

One day, I sat the same section twice in a row. I don’t remember why, but I do remember the server’s reaction.

Right after seating the second party in the server’s section she let me know how annoyed she was by my decision. Now, I knew I messed up immediately—she let me know. But I didn’t know why it wasn’t okay that I had double-sat her this time.

All I knew is there was a rule I was expected to follow…unless I wasn’t supposed to follow it. Sometimes it was okay to disregard the rule, sometimes not. The rule wasn’t clarified before I began my role as a hostess, it wasn’t explained during training, and it wasn’t explained in the moment I “broke” the rule.

At some point it was explained to me that there were several factors that influenced the “double-seating rule.” For instance, you might skip a section in the rotation if they were just sat a big party. You might double-seat someone if they were regulars, family or friends and the server was able to accommodate an additional table. Of course, there were several other factors that could come into play.

The biggest issue is that none of that was explained to me during training. Moreover, I was left to figure out the nuances of seating on my own.

Example 2: The Hotel Sales Office

I worked at a hotel in the sales office for my first job out of college handling group room blocks.

The contracts I sent out to clients had cutoff dates 30 days prior to the event. Again, sounds pretty simple, doesn’t it?

One day a bride emailed me asking if she could extend the cutoff date. The cutoff date fell on a holiday weekend and she was concerned that people might not have time to book their rooms. I wrote her back and very politely told her no. So she reached out to my boss, Jill, who told her yes.

And then I got called into Jill’s office.

I remember that conversation like it was yesterday. Jill was very nice about the situation and explained that it was okay to make exceptions for people sometimes. Sometime later, I extended a cutoff date for another group. Should be an acceptable exception, right?

Nope. I got my hand slapped on that one. There was a citywide event going on over those dates. The hotel was fully sold out and turning away business. In this circumstance, it was actually a huge problem to extend the cutoff date.

Great—here we go again with a rule that exists in a gray area, and no one explained its nuances. As it turns out, there are factors that go into extending a cutoff date, such as how many rooms the group has already picked up; how busy the hotel is over the dates of their room block; and the relationship you have with the client.

I don’t know if anyone ever flat out explained these gray areas to me. Instead, I was left to figure out the nuances through trial and error.

Example 3: The Dish Tub Incident

At that same hotel several years later I started handling banquet events. One day, a client told me their registration desk needed dish tubs lined with cloth napkins. I threw it on the banquet event order.

Well, I happened to work at a Five Diamond hotel. Dish tubs with napkins sitting out in view of the public? That’s not how we did things. Enter: Bruce the Banquet Manager.

No detail, however small, escaped Bruce. Referring to the dish tubs and napkins, Bruce asked me why they were necessary. I actually had no idea what the client wanted with the tubs and napkins. So, I reached out to the client.

Turns out all she needed was a way to store welcome packets for event attendees. These days, we just put up a QR code and call it good. Once I let Bruce know what the containers were actually for, he understood. However, we weren’t about to load unsightly dish tubs with welcome packets. Instead, we found something more aesthetically pleasing and in line with our level of service.

I spoke about the Dish Tub Incident with Jill. To her credit, she helped me understand that people who are planning meetings so frequently are sending standard specs. Sometimes there would be a request on a BEO that wouldn’t make sense for the venue. Crucially, she taught me that if I ever saw something that didn’t make sense I needed to ask questions.

Truthfully, I don’t remember if it was that conversation or another but Jill taught me one of the best lessons: Ask the client what goal they’re trying to achieve. By understanding their goals we could provide solutions that made sense for us and honored their wishes. Additionally, we’d deliver the excellent service they had come to expect.

Example 4: The Hotel Cafeteria

Let’s take a little break from talking about my mistakes and talk about somebody else’s.

Many years later, I was working at another hotel. One day, I went to the cafeteria and the fruit bowls had Asian pears in them. I love Asian pears, so I was really excited about those bowls.

Now, those particular pears were probably a day away from being spoiled. I went to the cafeteria the next week and there were the Asian pears again! This time, they were perfectly fresh, crisp pears.

Well, I certainly enjoyed that. You want to know who didn’t enjoy that? The executive chef!

As it turns out, Chef sent the pears that were about to go bad to the cafeteria because they were leftovers from something else. He didn’t want them to go to waste. But the fresh, crisp pears that were out the following week? Those were a different story.

There was a kitchen team member who saw the Asian pears go down the week before. When he was setting up the cafeteria the following week he threw some in the fruit bowl. No one had told him that Asian pears are expensive. Also, no one had told him the pears were just going down to the cafeteria because they were close to spoiling. They’re not typically the type of thing set out in the employee cafeteria.

While I would never expect Chef to stop and explain every single decision he’s making, it’s the perfect example of seeing one of your superiors doing something and thinking you’re supposed to do the same.

Leaders Teach

When I look back on some of the mistakes I made, they seem pretty obvious with many years of hindsight.

The solutions to unexpected situations are common knowledge to me now. If you also have some years in this industry, they’re likely common knowledge to you.

And that’s my point.

I was young. I was inexperienced. People didn’t always tell me the things they had learned that were common knowledge to them. So, they also didn’t share their expectations with me.

I can only assume that you have people on your team that are young and inexperienced. As seasoned hospitality professionals, we all make decisions every day that can be teaching moments. These moments are part of the learning experience. Using them to shape your team will help your business run better.

Have you implemented an onboarding process? Do you have a detailed employee manual? Do you have actual systems in place? If so, great—you’re ahead of the curve.

But do you think that you’re training new and existing employees on every situation that will ever pop up during their shifts? Really, that’s impossible. Instead, be on the lookout for teachable moments. Put people on your leadership and empower them to do the same.

In turn, they’ll help empower your staff to make the “right” decisions for your business. And importantly, they’ll feel empowered to learn from mistakes so they don’t repeat them. Over time, and it won’t take long, you and your leadership team will be able to step away and work on other parts of the business. In fact, you’ll find that you can step away from the business from time to time.

People are going to make mistakes. That includes you. Don’t let these teachable opportunities go to waste.

Image: Hassan Pasha on Unsplash

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What’s Up with the Restaurant Tax Credit?

What’s up with the Restaurant Revitalization Tax Credit?

by David Klemt

Abraham Lincoln's face on $5 bill

If you’re wondering what’s going on with the Restaurant Revitalization Tax Credit bills in the House and Senate, you’re probably not alone.

And if you find yourself wondering about them, that’s likely because there isn’t much news about the bills. Unfortunately, it appears that no meaningful progress has been made on HR 9574 or S.5219.

A quick check shows that both bills share the same status: Introduced. As for the House bill, HR 9574, that was introduced on December 15, 2022 by Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-OR). The Senate bill, S.5219, was introduced by Senator Benjamin Cardin (D-MD) on December 8, 2022.

It’s important to note that Sens. Cardin, Patty Murray (D-A), and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) reintroduced S.5219 in January of this year. However, that apparently didn’t mean much as the trackers show no progress.

Last year, some opined that neither bill would receive a vote until January 2023 at the earliest. That “prediction” has proven true, of course—it’s now the end of March.

Restaurant Revitalization Tax Credit Act Summary

Let’s take a quick look at HR 9574 and S.5219.

Both bills propose a $25,000 payroll offset for restaurants. Eligibility requirements are also identical: applicants must have applied for but not awarded a Restaurant Revitalization Fund grant.

Additional, eligible applicants are:

  • restaurants with operating losses of at least 30 percent in 2020 and 2021 in comparison to 2019; or
  • restaurants with losses of at least 50 percent in either 2020 or 2021 in comparison to 2019.

So, those are elements that both the Senate and House bills share. What about the differences between the two bills?

Mainly, differences come down to the number of employees. For S.5219, restaurants with ten employees or fewer could be eligible for the maximum payroll tax credit. That credit, as a reminder, is up to $25,000 for 2023. For every employee over ten, the refund cap drops by $2,500.

Now, HR 9574. Restaurants with ten or fewer employees would receive the full $25,000 payroll tax offset. For restaurants with between 11 and 20 employees, the offset would be “partially refundable.”

Now What?

If you believe that you’re eligible for this tax credit, it’s time to let your representatives know you want them to act.

To make things simple for everyone, I’m including the links you need to find and contact senators and representatives.

For senators, click here. And for representatives, click here.

Let them know that it’s time for action on S.5219 and HR 9574. And let them know exactly what action you expect them to take.

Image: Karolina Grabowska on Pexels

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WSWA Presents Cannabis Regulation Plan

WSWA Presents Cannabis Regulation Plan to Congress

by David Klemt

Drink with cannabis leaf artwork on top

The Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America are making their support for federal adult-use cannabis legalization and regulation known.

In summary, the WSWA is urging Congress to treat cannabis in a similar manner to alcohol. Impressively, the organization is doing more than just imploring members of Congress to legalize and regulate adult-use cannabis.

Rather, the WSWA is showing their commitment by doing much heavy lifting. Click here and you’ll find the WSWA Principles for Comprehensive Federal Legalization and Oversight of the Adultuse Cannabis Supply Chain. This is a comprehensive document that serves as a framework for the federal government to take action.

“The time has come for Congress to legalize and regulate adult-use cannabis at the federal level,” says Francis Creighton, CEO and president of the WSWA. “The success of our alcohol regulatory system offers a proven model for cannabis regulation, one that will promote public health and safety as well as a fair and competitive marketplace.”

Why Does the WSWA Care About Cannabis?

It’s clear when reading the WSWA letter to Congress and the organization’s framework document that they anticipate this question.

In a letter to House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, Majority Leader Charles Schumer, Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, the WSWA lays out precisely why they’re addressing federal legalization and regulation:

I am writing to you today to announce that we at the Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America (WSWA) believe the time has come for Congress to legalize and regulate adultuse cannabis at the federal level.

We have reached this position because the current conflict between state and federal law is not only causing adverse consequences for consumers and nonconsumers of cannabis but will also have longterm public health and safety costs that are too great to ignore. Twentyone states and the District of Columbia representing roughly half the U.S. population have already legalized adultuse cannabis, yet the markets in these states remain illegal under federal legislation. This conflict undermines the rule of law and weakens public health and safety, while leaving states unsupported in their efforts to create safe, regulated markets and eliminate dangerous blackmarket activity.”

What Does the WSWA Want?

Essentially, the WSWA wants the US government to apply the same principles of federal beverage alcohol regulation to adult-use cannabis:

  • Award permits to cannabis producers, testing facilities, importers, and distributors;
  • approve and regulate cannabis products;
  • collect federal excise tax efficiently and effectively; and
  • implement effective public safety measures.

To that last point, the WSWA calls for the development of “a reliable standard for all types of impaired driving, similar to blood alcohol concentration.” In other words, a BAC equivalency for cannabis.

Of course, I don’t think I’m coming to any groundbreaking conclusion in assuming the organization foresees financial benefits. Alcohol importers and distributors, for example, know how to maneuver through the red tape of federal regulation already. And they’re well positioned to apply for permits, should they be allowed to handle both alcohol and cannabis.

This is an interesting development, one that many will support. The WSWA makes a compelling point. Additionally, providing framework is a wise strategic move.

However, we’re in highly partisan, politically charged times. There’s no reason yet to assume Congress will take up federal legalization and regulation any time soon.

Image: Justin Aikin on Unsplash

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The Kraken Unleashes a new Monster

The Kraken Unleashes a new Monster

by David Klemt

The Kraken Gold Spiced Rum bottle

The Kraken, which claims to be the top-selling black spiced rum in the world, has released another monster: the Kraken Gold Spiced Rum.

This new release is a direct shot across the bow of the Captains, Sailors, and Admirals that have long commanded the spiced rum category. In other words, you know exactly which brands the Kraken is challenging with this expression.

Of course, this also gives you and your bar team a new spiced rum to introduce to guests. As it turns out, spiced rum is the most popular of the rum categories.

In June of 2020, Drizly launched BevAlc Insights by Drizly. The data-focused platform can provide operators with insights into consumer behavior and preferences. After all, if they’re ordering specific products for delivery to drink at home, they’ll expect the restaurants and bars they visit to have them on their menus.

Per BevAlc Insights, spiced rum boasted a 27-percent share in comparison to other styles in 2021. Interestingly, dark rum, according to BevAlc, held only a five-percent share. Those interested in this data can learn more reviewing BevAlc Insights’ 2021 Rum Forecast.

As far as what to expect on the nose and palate, tasting notes make mention of aromas of banana bread, caramel, vanilla, cinnamon, and oak. One reviewer on YouTube likens the nose to that of Bumbu Rum. Vanilla and oak carry through to the finish, with the top flavors being molasses, dark spice, and caramelized sugar.

The Kraken Rum Launches A New Gold Spiced Rum

The Top-Selling Rum Brand Unveils Its Latest Gold Treasure

Jersey City, NJ, March 7, 2023—Today, the world’s first and top-selling black spiced rum brand, The Kraken® Rum, emerges from its lair in the depths of the ocean to enter into the gold spiced rum category with a new release. A smooth and rich liquid, The Kraken Gold Spiced Rum is here to set THE NEW GOLD STANDARD in the rum category making waves for captains, sailors, and admirals alike.

The Kraken Gold Spiced Rum: The Product

Introducing THE NEW GOLD STANDARD for sipping: a gold spiced Caribbean rum, rich beyond words—and perhaps the only bit of lightness the legendary beast, known as “the Kraken,” loves with as much passion as its storied black ink. On the nose, The Kraken Gold Spiced Rum reveals a sweet brown medley of caramel, oak, and banana bread. Flavors of molasses and dark spice fade into caramelized sugar, with a slight finish of toasted oak and vanilla.

“As gold spiced rum occasions are now the highest among the rum category, we are proud to introduce this new offering from The Kraken, with a flavor profile all its own,” said Lander Otegui, Senior Vice President of Marketing at Proximo Spirits. “We are confident that this product will be THE NEW GOLD STANDARD in spiced rum thanks to its superb taste that we know matches what our consumers are looking for.”

A study conducted on the popularity of spiced rum brands showed The Kraken Gold Spiced Rum as a clear category favorite. Proximo Spirits commissioned a third-party double blind taste test study against category competitor, Captain Morgan®. The study revealed more than 70% of consumers prefer The Kraken Gold Spiced Rum over Captain Morgan Original Spiced Rum. Furthermore, participants also overwhelmingly indicated The Kraken Gold Spiced Rum both has “superior taste” and is “the smoothest.”1

  • Aroma: Sweet brown medley of caramel, oak, and banana bread. Rich vanilla with light cinnamon backtone.
  • Flavor: Molasses and dark spice fading into caramelized sugar. Slight finish of toasted oak and vanilla.

The Kraken Gold Spiced Rum is 35% ABV and sold nationwide at a $21.99 MSRP per 750ml. It is also available in 1L and 1.75L bottles.

“Take of Gold” New Campaign

To bring The Kraken Gold Spiced Rum from sip to screen, the brand is launching a new visual campaign, “Tale of Gold.” The advertisement, directed by Rich Lee who’s known for his work on the first three The Pirates of the Caribbean films, draws consumers into the dark world of the Kraken. Moody, foreboding visuals divulge the action-packed narrative of unworthy pirates who try to steal the precious treasure of gold from its lair and are thwarted by the Kraken.

The Kraken Golden Hour Sweepstakes

Before it dives back into the darkness, The Kraken is celebrating its newly released Gold Spiced Rum by giving consumers an opportunity to win a Golden Hour experience in the Dominican Republic.To enter The Kraken Golden Hour Sweepstakes for a chance to win a trip to the home of The Kraken Rum, scan the QR code or visit for more information.

No purchase necessary to enter or win. Purchasing a product will not improve your chances of winning. Must be documented resident of the U.S. or D.C., age 21 or older as of date of entry. Registration begins at 12:00am ET on February 1, 2023 and ends at 11:59pm ET on June 30, 2023. To enter, and for complete official rules including eligibility, prize description and approximate retail value, scan the QR code using your mobile device’s camera or directly visit Winner selected in random drawing. Odds of winning are based on the total number of eligible entries received. No alcoholic beverage is part of any prize award. Void wherever prohibited or restricted by law. SPONSOR: Proximo Spirits, Inc., 3 Second Street, Suite 1101, Jersey City, NJ 07302.  

To learn more about The Kraken Gold Spiced Rum and the rest of the Kraken’s keep, visit and follow The Kraken Rum on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

1 Taste-tests were conducted in April 2022 by TasteMakers Research Group in a blind study.

About The Kraken® Rum

AS IT IS TOLD, The Kraken Rum is an imported rum from the Caribbean blended with secret spices. Named for the sea beast of myth and legend, The Kraken Rum is bold, rich, and smooth. The Kraken Rum portfolio includes The Kraken Black Spiced Rum, made from unique Caribbean black spiced rum with a lingering spicy finish, The Kraken Gold Spiced Rum with a toasted oak and vanilla finish that’s smooth and tasteful, and ready-to-drink The Kraken Rum canned cocktails in flavors: Rum Punch, Cola and Ginger Beer. AS THEY SAY, “To not respect the power of the Kraken is to not respect the sea.” So, drink with respect.

The Kraken® Gold Spiced Rum. Rum with Natural Flavors and Caramel Color. 35% Alc./Vol. (70 proof). ©2023 Kraken Rum Co., Jersey City, NJ, Like the deepest sea, The Kraken® should be treated with great respect and responsibility.

Captain Morgan® is a registered trademark of Diageo North America, Inc. and referred to for product identification. Pirates of the Caribbean® is a registered trademark of Disney Enterprises, Inc. and referred to for Rich Lee’s background experience with the film franchise.

Disclaimer: Neither the author nor KRG Hospitality received compensation, monetary or otherwise, from the Kraken Rum, Proximo Spirits, or any other entity in exchange for this post.

Image: The Kraken Rum

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EHI and Danny Meyer Invest in SevenRooms

EHI and Danny Meyer Invest in SevenRooms

by David Klemt

Front of house staff member using SevenRooms

SevenRooms is showing no signs of resting on their laurels, announcing a major new investor: Enlightened Hospitality Investments.

EHI, a private-equity fund, traces its launch back to 2016. The fund, launched by and affiliated with Union Square Hospitality Group, typically makes investments in the $10-25 million range. Generally speaking, EHI makes non-control investments.

As you’re likely well aware, USHG’s founder and executive chairman is none other than restaurateur Danny Meyer. The Shake Shack chairman is also the managing partner of EHI.

Investment in SevenRooms by EHI—and by extension Danny Meyer—is huge news. Meyer now joins other high-profile chef and restaurateur investors in SevenRooms:

“At EHI, we always pay close attention to transformative tech that advances high touch,” says Meyer. “Far more than a reservations platform, SevenRooms provides abundant tools to create highly customized guest experiences and equips both restaurant and hotel teams to do what they do best—deliver truly memorable hospitality.”

Continual Growth

Since 2011, SevenRooms has pursued growth while serving the hospitality industry.

Whether in terms of innovation, partnerships, appointing the right people to key roles, or attracting investors, the platform is constantly strategizing to ensure its longevity.

Just look at what the company has achieved over 24 months:

  • March 2021: SevenRooms appoints Pamela Martinez as the company’s chief financial officer.
  • September 2021: SevenRooms announces a multi-year partnership with TheFork. The partnership is big news for operators throughout Europe and Australia. Further, the partnership illustrates how the company is pursuing global growth.
  • October of 2021: The company forms a partnership with Olo. This ensures clients who also use Olo are able to capture data from a key group: off-premise customers. That data creates profiles for such customers automatically. That means operators can learn more about—and effectively market to—customers who engage with them via online orders.
  • December 2021: SevenRooms and ThinkFoodGroup—the hospitality company behind Chef José Andrés’ portfolio of restaurants—make their partnership public. Interestingly, this partnership also includes ThinkFoodGroup joining SevenRooms in an advisory role.
  • January 2022: The platform announces the hiring of a chief revenue officer, Brent-Stig Kraus.
  • December 2022: SevenRooms enters into a partnership with Competitive Social Ventures.
  • January 2023: The company announces the appointment of their first-ever chief marketing officer.

As our industry rapidly attracts tech platforms and innovations, it can be difficult to know which companies are here to stay.

The growth of SevenRooms shows stability and longevity. Those are two key factors that should inform operator decisions when considering the tech stack.

Image: SevenRooms

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

5 Books to Read this Month: March 2023

5 Books to Read this Month: March 2023

by David Klemt

Flipping through an open book

Our engaging and informative March book selections will help you hone your leadership, entrepreneurial, and operational skills to dial in your business.

To review the book recommendations from February 2023, click here.

Let’s jump in!

Whiskey Women: The Untold Story of How Women Saved Bourbon, Scotch, and Irish Whiskey

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that women have been involved with and influencing alcohol for centuries. Still, women’s contributions to the spirits, beer, and wine we imbibe are often overlooked. Fred Minnick’s Whiskey Women seeks to change that.

From Amazon: “Whiskey Women tells the tales of the women who created the industry, from Mesopotamia’s first beer brewers and distillers to America’s rough-and-tough Prohibition bootleggers. Women have long distilled, marketed, and owned significant shares in spirits companies, including Bushmills, Johnnie Walker, and Maker’s Mark. Williamson is one of many influential women who greatly influenced Scotch, bourbon, and Irish whiskey. Until now their stories have remained untold.”

Unvarnished: A Gimlet-eyed Look at Life Behind the Bar

Even now it seems like people don’t view the service industry as offering “real” careers. Indeed, some restaurant and bar owners are asked when their “real” plan is because it can’t possibly be running a hospitality business.

In Unvarnished, Eric Alperin, owner, manager and designer of the Varnish in LA, and author Deborah Stoll reject that idea. This fascinating book offers lessons learned from Sasha Petraske, Alperin’s partner and mentor; the many tiny details bar owners will turn over and over in their heads before finalizing plans; reasons to not date a bartender; and much, much more.

There are also 100 recipes that Alperin required hopeful bartenders to know before they could land a job at the Varnish.

Heads in Beds: A Reckless Memoir of Hotels, Hustles, and So-Called Hospitality

Last month we featured In the Weeds. In January, we recommended Your Table is Ready. Both books are similar to the amazing Kitchen Confidential, a book all hospitality professionals should read.

Heads in Beds is essentially Kitchen Confidential for those in the hotel business. The Amazon listing describes this book as “a funny, authentic, and irreverent chronicle of the highs and lows of hotel life, told by a keenly observant insider who’s seen it all. Prepare to be amused, shocked, and amazed as he spills the unwritten code of the bellhops, the antics that go on in the valet parking garage, the housekeeping department’s dirty little secrets—not to mention the shameless activities of the guests, who are rarely on their best behavior.”

There are also emotional stories and revelations about the darker side of the industry we all need to address.

Impactful Influence for Modern Leaders: How to Use the Power of Influence to Lead Other People Toward Success

None of us can really become a true leader without the ability to influence those who work for us. That means, however, that we must continually develop ourselves. Influencing those around us to perform at their best isn’t as simple as giving orders, of course.

And that’s where Impactful Influence for Modern Leaders comes in. This book will help you build trust with your team; mentor others effectively; learn to let go and trust your team; and much more.

Lady You Got Balls: The Gift of Being Underestimated

If you’re an entrepreneur, odds are you’ve experienced being underestimated. You’ve likely had a taste of office life and decided it wasn’t for you due to the politics and betrayals.

If that’s you, you have something in common with Patricia Stroberg, author of Lady You Got Balls. In this book, you’ll see why being an underestimated underdog can be to your advantage. Lady You Got Balls “is for anyone wanting to run a successful company and live a life of purpose when the challenges seem too overwhelming to overcome.”

Image: Mikołaj on Unsplash

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