Beverage Speak: successful promotions
There is an endless list of initiatives – both big and small – that hotels can undertake to promote beverages and increase revenue. I always check out the mini-bar when I check into a hotel. While I’ve noticed the opportunity for Tequila, especially the high end variety, in the mini-bar space as it is often absent, I see a huge opportunity to promote mini-bar consumption at large. Especially in India, where international flights arrive after the restaurants and bars have closed, there is nowhere for the guest to grab a drink and therefore no chance for the hotel to earn beverage revenue upon check-in. A smart move would be identify a visible spot in the room for a noticeable silver tray with half bottles and a glass or two with other ingredients necessary to make a drink and therefore induce consumption. How often is it that one doesn’t need Pringles or M&Ms but grabs a handful of them anyway because they’re sitting outside the mini-bar? If hoteliers are concerned that the guest may not understand that the beverages are chargeable, they can have neck tags.
Restaurant and bar promotions are of course, more complex. Hotels should primarily remember that there must be some perceived and recognised value for the customer to attend your promotion in the first place, or at least a reason to have the promotion. So themes work – for instance, in the US, being so close to Mexico, we celebrate Mexican Independence Day to promote Tequila. Here in India, one can promote the drink during summer through Mojitos which are popular as summer drinks. Or for instance, what is more refreshing by the pool than a Margherita?
How can one ensure that there is recognised value? I wouldn’t advise discounts or buy-one-get-one free particularly but pairing is a good way to drive value to the customer. Again spirit flights stimulate interest as the guest is able to sample a variety of spirits within a brand or a variety of brands under a certain spirit. Also, I’d say that it’s best not to have an in-your-face promotion like a list of cocktails or drinks on a card. Theme it, have an interesting proposition!
Besides promotions, up selling is a good way to increase your beverage revenue. Some facts and figures here may help. The median age of people visiting beverage focused outlets is 26-years. So it is unlikely that scotch and single malts will make the cut, although they might still be open to drinking other high end spirits. Also 70% of people don’t know what they want – while this may be marketing 101 for most of you, I think it’s important to remember this and really start suggesting beverages where you will earn more. For instance, waiting staff should be encouraged to identify tables where people order drinks and are out to have a good time. In such cases instead of the usual ‘would you like some tea or coffee?’ after the meal, he could say ‘would you like to finish off with an espresso martini?’ and then instead of US$10 earnings for this component, you’ll earn US$40. What F&B managers must also keep in mind is that the serving staff will earn US$4 of that bill since people usually tip 10%, so encourage them to up sell by reminding them of that.
For those looking to tap into international trends and their Indian extensions, to increase beverage revenue; India remains abreast with international trends thanks to the role of social media and the fact that Indians are travelling a good bit. The only roadblock is in the inability to bring products in very quickly due to high taxation which in some cases also makes them inaccessible.
Trends in the cocktail world indicate a return to the classic. The appetite for vodka has seen a slight decline as people are looking for flavour and character in the spirit itself, rather than having to add flavour to the spirit since vodka is neutral in taste.
Infused spirits are gaining prominence over flavoured spirits.
Even in terms of ingredients, herbs such as basil and are becoming popular as are fresh fruits. There is an abundance of fresh fruits in India so this trend works perfectly here. Bitters are coming in again. Just as kitchen ingredients are finding their way to the bar, spirits are finding their way into the kitchen. Beverage companies are more than keen to help one experiment. Satay and skewers go well with Patrón Silver Tequila. The Patrón XO Cafe is an excellent addition to ice-cream or Tiramisu. One can go to the extent of trying it as an ingredient in less spicy kebabs. Spirits add both flavour and richness to food. Silver tequilas blend well with fish, while reposados are good with pork and beef dishes. Añejo tequilas are smoother and fit nicely