Tips for luring hotel guests to the bar in 2014 – Hotel Management

Hotel Management posted their top tips for luring hotel guests to the bar in 2014.  Among their tips:

Focus on millennials. This generation is characterized by high expectations, disposable incomes and a thirst for new trends. “As millennial continue to invest in the experiential value of dining, eye-catching drink presentation as well as innovative and even adventurous ingredients will continue to drive incremental sales particularly in casual and upscale dining concepts in 2014,” Melanie Austin, account executive at Patrick Henry Creative Promotions, told Nightclub & Bar.

Simplicity should be left behind. Operators are encouraged to think outside of the box and innovate, as guests are becoming tired of repetition in hospitality and want to see personality in the properties they visit. It’s open season for hotels to start taking chances on how to attract customers.

Social media is also expected to continue to climb in popularity and utility throughout 2014, and there is also expected to be more social media options available to both guests and operators. Hashtags are now a marketing tool, and it is important to learn to use them in cross-promotion.

Ok, this may not exactly be helpful to you if you are running a hotel with a typical lobby bar.  That is where TrueGuest can offer a few more tips. Continue reading

Ask TrueGuest: Tips on Making Menu Recommendations

Dear TrueGuest,Logo_Mark-Five_Diamond_Hospitality

We really need to increase our average check in our restaurant and the bar.  We have been working on making menu recommendations but have not seen any improvement.  What types of items should our employees recommend?

Great question, thank you!  Having restaurant servers and bartenders make menu recommendations is definitely the key to increasing your average check.  Here are a few tips:

  1. Make sure that employees only recommend items that they have personally tried and love.  It sounds like a no-brainer, but we have this conversation all of the time.  The server says, “our fish tacos are incredible and a must order”.  We ask, “do they have cilantro on them?”  Server says, “I have no idea”.  I guess they are not her favorite after all!  Make sure you are doing regular menu tastings with your team.
  2. Allow your employees to choose what they recommend, but have some limitations.  Here is where restaurants often run into trouble.  You start telling your servers that they must make recommendations but don’t provide any guidelines.  They tend to do one of two things, over or under recommend.  Half the servers immediately recommend the most expensive item on your menu.  They think they will increase their sales and their tips.  Unfortunately, most guests do not fall for that and are turned off when you recommend the most expensive item.  The other half of the servers then under recommend.  When asked about entrees, they say something like, “you should get the chicken quesadilla appetizer, it is more than enough for an entree.”  Now, instead of increasing the check, they decreased it.  They took away an appetizer sale and sold the analyst a $9 entree instead of a $22 entree.  Ouch! Continue reading

USA Today Predicts the Hotel Bar Trends for 2013

usatodayHere is another great article from Hotel Check-In at USA Today about Hotel Bar Trends for 2013.  Barbara Delollis walks us through all of the crazy hotel bar upgrades.  From drinks created by world-famous chefs to Lady Gaga-themed cocktails, our hotel bars are changing.

A few highlights from the article:

Don’t be surprised if you see a drink menu that features ingredients or garnishes such as herbal tea, freshly crushed pineapple juice or unusual seasoned ice. Expect to pay $12 to $18 for a premium cocktail, or perhaps more in big-market cities like New York.

You might even see items made in the kitchen in and around your glass. At Telluride’s Hotel Madeline, guests coming off the slopes and craving something filling can order a decadent Bloody Mary cocktail garnished with two cheeseburger sliders, stuffed olives, pickled okra, pickled green beans, pickled asparagus, celery, pearl onions, lemons, limes, pepperoncini, celery salt, black pepper and two strips of bacon.

Give that a minute to soak in.  I am starting to miss a regular vodka tonic already!  Here are a few of the other bar trends for 2013:

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Spike TV’s ‘Bar Rescue’ is Back for a Third Season!

Bar Rescue

One of our favorites, Bar Rescue returns again for a third season starting on Sunday, February 10th, 2013 on Spike TV.

During the first two seasons, veteran bar expert has helped dozens of struggling bars update their concept, fix their food and drink menus, and put internal controls in place…  all with true reality TV drama.

Here is a little preview of what to expect this season:

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Ask TrueGuest: How to Test Your Bartender’s Free Pouring Count

Free pouring is our 3rd favorite (ok, least favorite) method for pouring alcohol.  However, we understand that many bars want free pouring in place for ascetic purposes.  A highly skilled bartender can still achieve accurate pours using a free pouring method, just be sure that you are consistently testing your bartender’s pouring count.

In order to test your bartender’s counts, you will need a testing kit.  A couple of the popular brands are the Exacto Pour and the ProCheck.

Check out this video for a demonstration of how the kit works:

Just like everything else these days, there is an app for that!  Check out the Virtual Pour smartphone app from the World Flair Association:

Remember, whether you are using a measured pour or a free pour, the key is consistency.  Over-pouring not only leads to high beverage costs but also increased liability.

Ask TrueGuest: The Importance of Watching Every Ounce of Liquor in Your Hotel Bar


Dear TrueGuest,

I just finished your online guide to ‘Getting Your Beverage Cost Under Budget‘ and I am working on getting all of the internal controls in place.  However, I really feel like I am now spending all of my time chasing pennies and trying to control every single drop of liquor we use.  Should I really care how much alcohol is wasted?  A little bit of extra vodka here and there shouldn’t make a big difference, right? – Javier

Javier, thank you for such a great question!  We often hear this exact question when we are teaching our liquor control class in person or giving a lecture on liquor controls at an HFTP meeting.  You are absolutely right, even an ounce of a really good vodka only costs about 50 cents.  Why worry so much?  Surely, that can’t impact the bottom line that much, right?  Wrong!

First, we have to start looking at the potential of that ounce of vodka, not the cost.  In many cities such as Los Angeles and New York City, an ounce of premium vodka at a high-end bar can easily sell for $15.  So, for every extra ounce of vodka your bartender over-pours, you could be out $15 in potential revenue.  Most guests have a pretty small limit of how much alcohol they can consume in one night.  Let’s pretend a customer orders a vodka cranberry but your bartender pours 2 ounces of vodka instead of 1 ounce.  That customer has now had twice as much as she expected to drink and may not come back for a second one.  If that customer typically likes to drink two drinks, your hotel will be out $15 in revenue and $14.50 in profit.  Over-pouring is definitely a profit killer in hotel bars.  If you have just 50 customers a night and just 10 of them have one less drink because of the over-pour, you could be out over $140 in profit.  If you serve a few hundred guests, you can easily see how quickly the numbers add up.

I hope that helps.  Once you get your liquor controls in line, be sure to check out our post on maximizing bar revenues.

John Taffer from Spike TVs Bar Rescue Provides Great Bar Tips


Spike TV has a new reality TV show called Bar Rescue.  Bar Consultant Jon Taffer and his team take over bars on the verge of bankruptcy and turn them around.  In addition to remodeling the bar, he gets the management and staff on the right track to running a successful bar.  He covers everything such as managing your pour cost, menu engineering, up-selling, even why proper uniforms are important.  Of course, like any good reality TV show, Bar Rescue is built around the drama that comes from running a bar.

Check out this clip below.  John talks about the perfect one-ounce pour, the power of suggestion, bar menu engineering, and why selling fruit drinks helps promote food sales.

Bar Rescue airs on Spike on Sunday but they rerun episodes often.  Also, many clips and some full episodes are available on Spike’s website.  Check out this clip and meet John Taffer, the star of Bar Rescue.

Links: Spike’s Website for Bar Rescue

Ask TrueGuest: Bartender Selling Techniques

Dear TrueGuest,

I am a food and beverage manager at a hotel with two bars.  Can you tell me some ways that we can increase our revenues?  We are obviously a little bit slower lately, but is there anything that we can do to help?

The selling area of a bartender’s service is always overlooked. These selling standards are extremely important to generating higher revenues. Bartenders can come across as uncaring and unfriendly if they just approach and ask guests, “What can I get for you?” They also will not sell much more than the minimum guest order. Most hotel bars are not like bars or nightclubs that stand alone. People usually expect more from a hotel bar. The service of a bartender should be similar to that provided by servers to a table of guests that are eating. There are many selling standards that should be in place for each time a guest arrives at the bar. This includes practices such as offering your drink menu to guests whether they know what they want or not, providing a food menu, suggesting any specialty drinks, offering more beverages, and offering bar snacks. Each of these practices has its own effect and benefit on your bartender’s guest service as well as revenues. Here is a breakdown.

Continue reading

Finally, Some Solutions to Control Your Banquet Bars… and Increase Sales!

We often get calls from hotels whose banquet bars are out of control. Whether the liquor pour cost is high, the employees are stealing cash or clients have complained about being overcharged on a host bar, the main culprit is usually a poor system for recording sales.

While our hotels all have the most advanced property management systems at the front desk and the most advanced point of sales systems in our restaurants and bars, our banquet bars have cheap cash registers purchased from Costco! Or worse yet, the old adding machine tape next to the cash drawer!

Finally, technology has caught up with the demand. Most hotels use the MICROS 3700 or the MICROS 9700 point of sale system in their restaurant and bars. Now it is very easy to add on an affordable, portable terminal and put in the same controls in your banquet bar as you have in your restaurant bar. The terminal runs on wireless internet and connects to your existing point of sales system so it is ultra-portable. All that it needs is power. Depending on the size of your hotel’s banquet space, most hotels can get by with only one or two terminals.

How will adding a point of sales system to your banquet bar increase sales?

1. Your hotel will now be able to accept credit cards at a banquet event. People tend to spend much more money at a place (especially a bar) when using a credit card.

2. Many people at a business event will not purchase drinks unless they can use a company credit card and get a receipt. If you have ever attended an HFTP event, you have been in line behind a group of Controllers that want to pay with a company credit card and need a receipt for the expense report!

3. You will greatly reduce your risk of employee theft. You may be losing 20 percent of your revenues to theft right now. With a POS, the bartenders will have to ring up each item and present a receipt. More of the hotel’s money will make it into the register instead of ‘accidentally’ going into the tip jar.

If you have installed a Point of Sales System in the last few years or are planning to install one in the future, be sure to consider incorporating a banquet bar terminal. It will pay for itself in no time!