The Official Magazine of the World Class Beverage Program
Rémy Cointreau USA
Provides a Premium Choice The legacy of Rémy Cointreau USA’s storied brands (think Louis XIII de Rémy Martin® Cognac and The Macallan® Single Malt Scotch) began more than 300 years ago. Today the American subsidiary of the French company Rémy Cointreau Group continues to deliver a stellar luxury portfolio to on-premise retailers in the U.S.
Talking F&B with Gustaaf Schrils Though he’s a “technology guy,” Gustaaf Schrils has a keen appreciation for food and beverage, from the impact of technology on foodservice operations to the finer points of sampling a rare and collectible rum. Our series of F&B interviews with members of IHG’s leadership team continues in a conversation with the Vice President of Global Technology for the Americas.
IN THIS ISSUE
Making Southern Art at the InterContinental Buckhead Atlanta
Celebrating IHG’s Top Chefs: Christophe Depuichaffray of InterContinental San Francisco & InterContinental Mark Hopkins
10 Generating BrandHearted F&B
Holiday Inn Seasonal Promotion
Engineering The Ideal Menu
Zodiac Luncheons at the InterContinental Buenos Aires
Talking F&B With Gustaaf Schrils
World Class Beverage Program Supplier Profile: Rémy Cointreau USA Dreaming of Spring Escape The Winter Blues & Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey Promotions
Miami Ice Rink
18 Social Marketing Part 3: Creating a Digital Shield, by Ned Barker
The InterContinental Hong Kong: Something for Everyone
Making 2012 Our Best Year Yet As Spring approaches, you can almost feel the momentum in the air at IHG. Taking our cues from Chief Executive Richard Solomons and Americas President Kirk Kinsell, the entire Americas regional team is out to raise the bar on our performance this year in the company’s three priority areas of focus: People, Brands and Delivery. IHG Food and Beverage and the World Class Beverage Program are playing a key role in accomplishing this, introducing new programs, systems and promotions to support our brands. We’ll also continue to put the spotlight on the outstanding F&B performance and creativity of individual property teams throughout the region. We invite you to read about some of these exciting new initiatives in this issue of Spirited. Together, we will make 2012 our best year yet!
Chef Art Smith is the author of the award-winning cookbook Back to the Table, a New York Times bestseller.
Southern Art Making
AT T H E I N T E R CO N T I N E N TA L B U C K H E A D
eave it to celebrity chef Art Smith to blend down-home culinary delights with Southern sophistication and make it all fit perfectly in cosmopolitan Atlanta.
Smith’s Southern Art restaurant opened to rave reviews last fall at the InterContinental Buckhead, and the food and beverage team hasn’t stopped since in building on the initial success. The hotel’s management had been looking for a fresh restaurant concept that would have an indigenous feel but match the wellheeled expectations of both the InterContinental’s international clientele and the surrounding Buckhead community. Enter Art Smith, the executive chef who leaped to national prominence as the personal chef for Oprah Winfrey, and who created and operates successful, high-profile restaurants in Chicago, Washington, D.C., and Palo Alto. He developed a Southern-inspired concept for the restaurant and created the
adjacent Bourbon Bar as the perfect accompaniment (see the article on Page 5). “The overall theme is Southern cuisine, reinvented,” explains Food and Beverage Director Todd DeSilva. “We pay our respects to Southern-style cooking and dishes, but present them in an exciting new way.” Todd recruited from successful restaurants in Atlanta and throughout the South to put together a strong culinary team, headed by restaurant and bar General Manager Alain Zemmour and Executive Chef Anthony Gray. Their collective experience is helping deliver on Southern Art’s “contemporary traditional” promise. The menu features comfort foods reinterpreted, such as Cornmeal Dusted Catfish with Anson Mills cheese grits and green tomato apple relish, and Buttermilk Fried Chicken with red pepper gravy. The emphasis is on fresh and local, says Chef Anthony. 3
“We buy from local farms whenever we can, depending on the season, and even grow our own herbs in the window boxes outside the restaurant that overlook the street,” he says. “We stick to the staples, but do them in a new, more delicious way—things aren’t as overbreaded and butter-rich as in traditional Southern cooking.” The restaurant itself features modern but comfortable decor, with traditional touches such as Southern Art’s own version of the “groaning sideboard” at its entrance—a vintage pie table laden with dessert offerings. Among the favorites, developed by pastry chef Meredith Miller: bourbon pecan pie, black-bottom pie and 12-layer red velvet cake with cream cheese icing. The pìece de résistance, however, is the Ham Bar, a beautiful charcuterie display between the restaurant and bar that features an array of artisanal hams from the Southeast region of the U.S.
The signature Ham Bar features whole artisan hams from Southern states.
Public reception for the new restaurant and bar continues to be strong, Todd says. The team has reached out to the community through promotions and charitable events, supported by Art Smith, who makes himself available frequently to lend a sense of hospitality and ownership. Todd notes that the celebrity cachet is also increasing demand for the hotel’s banquet and private dining business. “Southern Art & Bourbon Bar have really made us the talk of the town,” he says. “The new concepts are allowing us to reintroduce the idea of hotel dining to our guests and the Atlanta community.”
Executive Chef Anthony Gray
rianne Fielder believes she has the perfect job. Not only is she head mixologist and lead bartender for Bourbon Bar, the themed beverage component of the new Southern Art & Bourbon Bar at the InterContinental Buckhead Atlanta, but she’s also a bourbon lover. It just doesn’t get any better than that, she says.
Bourbon Bar Offers America’s Best
“I get to work with some of the leading distillers in the country, to be creative in developing new drinks and perfecting traditional ones, and to meet new people from around the world—all while being surrounded by my passion, bourbon,” she says. “I’m not ashamed to admit that I love what I do.” With that level of enthusiasm behind the bar, it’s a cinch the guests are going to enjoy themselves, and that’s certainly been the case since Southern Art and Bourbon Bar opened in October. Bourbon Bar is the latest addition to IHG’s signature bar collection at InterContinental Hotels. It was developed to replace the XO Cognac Bar when a more Southern-themed concept was needed as a match for Southern Art. Bourbon Bar features a well-cultivated selection of American bourbon distillers, focusing on small-batch producers and hard-to-find brands. The current offerings comprise more than 70 American whiskeys, including bourbon, rye and moonshine, from over 20 states. Some of the bourbons are available only at Bourbon Bar, through exclusive agreements, and the bar even features its own private-label bourbon.
Food & Beverage Director Todd DeSilva
Head Mixologist & Lead Bartender Arianne Fielder
In addition to the wide variety of “sippin’ whiskeys” available, Bourbon Bar offers an array of cocktails showcasing classic, pre-Prohibition-era cocktails—such as the Manhattan and Old Fashioned—along with a menu of Bourbon Bar Originals that Arianne has created, including the Bourbon Bar Cocktail of the Week, which uses fresh local and seasonal ingredients. Aged cocktails are another cutting-edge offering, in which entire drinks are aged in charred wood barrels for up to several weeks. The bar staff takes a purist’s approach, making its own bitters and gastriques and even chopping ice from blocks to ensure an unadulterated taste for its cocktails. Arianne and the Bourbon Bar team regularly join with the Southern Art staff to develop popular bar promotions, such as tasting dinners where bourbons are paired with courses, and Monday evening “Flight Nights,” featuring flights of bourbon from a different distiller each week. The buzz for Bourbon Bar in Atlanta is continuing to grow, Arianne says. “We’re out to break the stereotyped ‘hotel bar’ idea out of its shell and make Bourbon Bar a destination bar for local clientele and the neighborhood.” 5
Gustaaf Schrils grew up in a multicultural household on the Caribbean island of Curaçao. Food was often a lively topic of conversation in this tropical paradise, and as a result, today he appreciates a wide range of cuisines and dishes, from Southern barbecue to the perfect seafood paella. In a recent interview, we asked the Vice President of Global Technology for the Americas about his F&B preferences, including sipping versus mixing premium añejo rum.
Any foodservice experience in your background? “Other than working in the concession stand through the years at my kids’ swim meets and basketball games, I’ve had no direct experience in food and beverage.”
What does a great dining experience look like? “Being with family and friends, enjoying their company with a nice drink and food that’s fresh and tasty, accompanied by excellent service. The best dining experiences should be fun and challenging, so that I will want to tell my friends to try the restaurant.”
What’s your favorite food? “I have a Dutch grandfather, and a Venezuelan grandmother on my father’s side. My mom is from Brooklyn. Growing up, I benefited 6
from the wide latitudes of food in our household, which also played a role in bridging the cultures in our family. When I was young, the adults would debate the best type of food, asking me which I preferred. By my early teens, I was siding with my Venezuelan grandmother. I love Latin cuisine. If a dish has plantains, capers and/or cilantro as ingredients, I’m going to like it!”
How about your favorite beverage? “It would be a Cuba Libre. I’m a big collector of rums from all over the world, and I especially like añejo, which is rich, dark, aged rum. The best, I think, is a Venezuelan rum that’s not readily available in the U.S. When our family visits Curaçao, we bring back as many bottles as possible. I like to both sip and mix it, depending on the occasion. Some people think you waste great sipping rum by mixing it, because it changes the taste slightly, but I like it both ways.”
Favorite restaurant? “In Atlanta, I like Pampas Argentine Steakhouse in Alpharetta—the tomahawk ribeye is superb. For a more informal dinner, we enjoy the Spotted Pig in Fair Play, South Carolina, where we have a lake house. The barbecue there is amazing. “I love any restaurant that serves a great paella, but that’s a dish that just doesn’t work when it’s commercialized, because it has to be prepared with just the right quantity of fairly expensive, highquality ingredients. It’s a challenging dish for any restaurant to offer, so I make it myself at home.”
When you dine at an IHG hotel, what do you usually order? “IHG has some great chefs working in our hotels, so when I’m staying in one of our properties, I usually have the specials. My tastes are pretty diverse, so I’ll try almost anything. Often I’ll speak with the chef about recommendations, and I’ve never been disappointed.”
Any F&B “pet peeves?” “Having dishes presented at the wrong temperature and feeling rushed to turn the table over are both big concerns for me. I also expect a knowledgeable wait staff. It’s frustrating when you ask servers a question, and they have to go back to the kitchen to get an answer.
“Cleanliness is another pet peeve of mine, which I think is in my DNA. When I was growing up, every time we went to a restaurant, my dad would walk to the kitchen door and ask to see inside. He wanted to be absolutely sure his food was being prepared in a clean place. So now I always look carefully at the table, utensils, glasses and plates to be sure they all seem clean and sanitary, before I can really enjoy the meal.”
Other than paella, what are your specialties when you cook at home? “My wife, Norma, does most of the cooking at our house. But we like to work together in the kitchen on the weekends, trying new recipes that we’ve found online or in cookbooks. And, I usually prepare at least one meal on the weekend. My daughters love my curry chicken.”
One more question—what impact do you see technology having on food and beverage? “I’m very excited about the possibilities! There are two areas in particular where technology can have a major impact. One is the instant feedback available to operators through sites like Yelp, which act as a barometer for how a restaurant is performing with guests. The other is the electronic menu, an iPad-like device that allows patrons to see each dish, check the ingredients and even read the ratings of customers who ordered it as recently as an hour ago. E-menus will also help with cost management, because they provide real-time, dynamic and even multilingual information, without having to be printed.”
“Though our brands have been around for hundreds of years, our company continually presses for groundbreaking innovation, to further expand and increase the value of our portfolio.” Remi Brabant Manager, On-Premise Strategic Accounts Rémy Cointreau USA
Rémy Cointreau USA Strives to Continue as
‘Best of the Best’ T
he Rémy Cointreau USA brand portfolio reads like a veritable who’s who of the wine and spirits industry:
émy Martin® Cognac, comprising products that include the #1 vR V.S.O.P. in the world, and the #1 X.O. in the U.S. v L ouis XIII de Rémy Martin®, “a century in a bottle,” considered the most exclusive luxury spirit in the world vC ointreau® Liqueur, the favored ingredient of mixologists seeking to craft the perfect cocktail vC hampagne Charles Heidsieck®, the world’s most awarded champagne brand, receiving more 90+ Wine Spectator ratings than any other competitor vC hampagne Piper-Heidsieck®, a range of extraordinary champagnes, from the most highly rated non-vintage brut in its category to the impeccable Rare 1999, rated a perfect 100 points he Macallan® Single Malt Scotch, the preeminent single malt vT Scotch brand, sought after and recognized as the world’s most precious whisky v Mount Gay® Rum, the oldest rum brand in the world ...to name just a few. This estimable collection of premium brands forms the foundation of Rémy Cointreau USA, created in 1981 as a wholly owned subsidiary of the family-owned French company, the Rémy Cointreau Group, which ranks as one of the world’s leading wine and spirits companies. Four of Rémy Cointreau USA’s stellar brands are included in the World Class Beverage Program: Cointreau, Mount Gay Eclipse Silver Rum, Rémy Martin V.S.O.P. and Rémy X.O. The company overall continues to experience good growth, leveraging its prime positioning in the still-fast-growing luxury and premium tiers of the wine and spirits business. “What matters most to us is the quality and value of each bottle sold,” says Remi Brabant, Manager of On-Premise Strategic Accounts. “Our company focuses on maintaining a selective portfolio of
premium brands. To that end, we put a lot of emphasis on the style-driven world of our on-premise retail partners, where our profit translates into profit for them as well.”
A Legacy of More Than 300 Years The heritage of Rémy Cointreau USA stretches back across three centuries to the early 1700s, when Mount Gay Rum was first distilled in Barbados. The legacy continues through the establishment of the houses of Rémy Martin Cognac in 1724 and Piper-Heidsieck Champagne in 1785, and the creation of Cointreau & Cie in 1849. A series of joint ventures and acquisitions throughout the 20th century led to the ultimate merger between Rémy Martin and Cointreau in 1991. “Through painstakingly perfected craftsmanship and quality over the years, we have ultimately created brands that are entirely beyond imitation,” Remi notes. “Today, more and more consumers are searching for authenticity in the wine and spirits brands they choose. Rémy Cointreau brands have a unique legacy and take pride in being the genuine article. Consumers trust our heritage.”
Love, Patience and Passion The company prides itself on the superior level of skill of its people and the love, patience and passion lavished on each brand, Remi says, which leads to unparalleled consistency across the entire portfolio. That care and passion extend to Rémy Cointreau USA’s commitment to deliver superior value to its trade partners, which has led to a reputation for excellence and premium expertise among its distributors and customers. “Though our brands have been around for hundreds of years, our company continually presses for groundbreaking innovation, to further expand and increase the value of our portfolio,” Remi says. “We’re looking forward to continuing to develop creative, effective promotional programs with IHG, like the current Escape the Winter Blues promotion (see the article on Page 12). We are a good fit— proven hotel brands and proven spirits brands, challenging and supporting each other for success.”
We continue our series celebrating leading IHG Executive Chefs in the Americas
“Leading the culinary teams of two hotels is not always easy, but Chef Christophe’s dedication and commitment show that he’s passionate about his job and what he does. He stays focused during challenges and knows what it takes to wow our guests over and over again to create Great Hotels Guests Love in San Francisco.” Tobias Gessner Food & Beverage Director InterContinental San Francisco
Christophe Depuichaffray Chef
Keeping Things Fresh
an Francisco is a great place to be a foodie, and an even better one in which to be an executive chef, according to Christophe Depuichaffray. He should know—he holds the position at both the InterContinental Mark Hopkins and the InterContinental San Francisco.
“The city has fantastic cheeses, all the beautiful produce you could want, fresh fish and outstanding meat,” he says. “Nothing is more satisfying than going to the local markets, finding fresh food and making it appealing and tasty for our clients to eat.” The satisfying abundance of fresh local ingredients connects Christophe to his childhood growing up on a farm in France’s Loire Valley, where life was centered on great food and wine. He enjoyed helping his mother with the day-to-day cooking, often standing on a chair to patiently stir the sauce. Each Sunday after mass, his close-knit, extended family would gather at the home of one relative or another to prepare and enjoy a leisurely four- or five-course meal together. His early passion for food and cooking led Christophe to earn culinary degrees from the Lycée d’Hôteliere et Tourisme de Val de Loire Blois, in the Loire Valley. He launched his career as a chef in hotels and restaurants in Corsica, France, England and Germany, followed by a year of military service with the French Navy. After a stint in Bermuda and Canada, he returned to Europe to work in a series of Michelin One-Star restaurants.
Black Cod with Cilantro Crust, Bok Choy and Pineapple, with Fish Sauce Beurre Blanc
Christophe’s first InterContinental Hotels assignment was in 1994, as Fine Dining Chef at the InterContinental Cairo, Egypt. He later held positions with the InterContinental Manila, the Philippines, the Grand InterContinental Hotel in Seoul, Korea, and the InterContinental Madrid, where he was Executive Chef. He has been the Executive Chef at the InterContinental Mark Hopkins since 2007, taking on additional responsibilities as Acting Executive Chef at the InterContinental San Francisco in 2009. At both properties, Christophe has made changes that have increased guest satisfaction and revenues. At the legendary Top of the Mark in the InterContinental Mark Hopkins, for example, he introduced a menu of sophisticated “comfort food” dining options for the bar, such as meatloaf and Lamb Lollipop with Eggplant. He also revamped the property’s brunch, and introduced mini-dishes, smaller desserts and lighter fare to both hotels’ menus, changing the offerings frequently to keep them fresh and appealing. Last year he unified the banquet menu for both properties to simplify operations and enhance service. Managing the culinary operations at two large, high-profile hotels can be challenging, Christophe says, but he relies on his strong teams at both properties to keep things running smoothly. “Having the right people on our team is the secret of our success,” he says. “I trust them, and try to always give them a free hand, encouraging them to introduce their own ideas. What we have in common is that we all like good food, and we like to please people. We understand that when the guest is happy, everyone is happy.”
Southeast Asian-flavored Crab Cakes with Coconut and Lemongrass Dip
“Chef Christophe walks the talk when it comes to providing our guests with an exceptional, top-quality experience and supporting the brand. For example, he has fully embraced local farm-fresh products into our menus, and he was instrumental in our hotel getting its 2-star Green Restaurant certification.”
Roasted Lamb Loin in Potato Crust with Middle Eastern Spiced Eggplant and Rainbow Carrots and Broccoli
Joseph Ferragamo Food & Beverage Manager InterContinental Mark Hopkins, San Francisco
Flowers beginning to bloom, a return to Daylight Saving Time, spring break... as the season changes, moods begin to lift and consumers long to get away, even if it’s only through having a cocktail. Two new promotions with World Class Beverage Program partners play to our guests’ inclination, this time of year, to daydream.
Escape the Winter Blues
he next best thing to a trip to Barbados is a delectable cocktail inspired by the island. A new World Class Beverage Program promotion is providing an array of beach-themed drinks designed to help refresh cold-weatherweary bar patrons.
“Escape the Winter Blues” teams the World Class Beverage Program with two outstanding partners—Rémy Cointreau USA, Inc., and the Coca-Cola Company. The result is a lively, tasty promotion available through April 30th at participating InterContinental and Crowne Plaza hotels in North America. Mount Gay Eclipse Silver rum and a collection of Coca-Cola products are featured in libations with dreamy names such as the
Perfect Day and the Sunshine Mojito. A turnkey promotional kit has been provided to the hotels that includes drink recipes, colorful cards that can be used as menu inserts, tabletops or server cards, back-of-the-house posters and staff training materials. Escape the Winter Blues also features an exciting hotel competition as a way to further engage servers and other staff in the promotion. The property with the most successful implementation will get to designate selected employees to participate in an educational opportunity in conjunction with the promotional effort. Given the stakes, boning up on promotion background and trivia may be in order. Staff training materials provided include background on Mount Gay Rum, which dates to 1703 and is the oldest rum on record. Mount Gay Rum “Eclipse” was named in 1910 after Haley’s comet neared the earth, and a total eclipse was imminent.
A Taste of Tennessee Honey
hat could be sweeter than a cocktail that combines the flavors of honey and Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey? Why, only the chance to help save the honeybees, of course!
IHG will be partnering with the Jack Daniel’s brand for a late spring/early summer promotion aimed at driving sales of Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey, a whisky-based liqueur the company introduced a year ago to enthusiastic response. A portion of the revenues from sales of designated cocktails made with the new Jack Daniel’s product at participating InterContinental and Crowne Plaza hotels will be donated to causes supporting the plight of the world’s rapidly diminishing honeybee population.
The promotional package will comprise a complete range of point-of-sale materials, including brand-specific menus, posters and email templates, all carrying a rustic, organic feel. Specialty items may include octagonal drink coasters shaped like honeycombs, and honey wands or sticks for garnish. Back-of-the-house instructional materials will also be provided, and a supplier incentive is in development. The cocktail lineup will include appropriately named beverages such as The Bees’ Knees, More Bees With Honey and the Hive Jive. Complete details on the promotion will be provided within the next month to hotels eligible to participate.
InterContinental Miami Holiday Skating Rink Creates A Local Buzz Director of Engineering Tim Owens (left) and F&B Director Danny Estevez
ive a Director of Engineering a space-and-logistics challenge, and you never know what you might end up with—maybe even an ice skating rink in the heart of downtown Miami.
When Tim Owens, Director of Engineering for the InterContinental Miami, read about an outdoor skating rink that an Atlanta hotel had operated the previous winter, he recalled hearing about a popular indoor rink the InterContinental Miami had installed for the holiday season in the early 90s. He was sure he could come up with a creative, successful follow-up. Growing up in New Hampshire, Tim is a skater himself, and he knew just the spot where the rink could go. For years the hotel staff had puzzled over how they might use a large outdoor concrete area on the roof of the hotel’s parking garage. The 3,000-squarefoot, terrace-like space was situated on the front of the hotel, was structurally sound and had a beautiful view, five yards from Biscayne Bay and overlooking a nearby mall and park.
“I toyed with the idea for two years, and finally got in touch with one of the event companies that create ice rinks seasonally,” Tim says. “They told me they could build it from scratch, using a series of tubes filled with coolant and a giant chiller. Then all we had to do was flood the area and let the ice slowly build up.” 14
With the logistics plan handled, Tim teamed with Food and Beverage Director Danny Estevez and Marketing Communications Manager Aurelia Vasquez to package and promote the idea. A tent over the area to protect skaters from the wind, with open sides for light and air, some holiday decor, park benches and a satellite bar with seating, and the InterContinental Miami Holiday Ice Rink was ready to open. “Skating season” ran from Thanksgiving through January 15th, allowing plenty of time for word of mouth to build up a steady crowd. Aurelia reached out to the local community to boost business on slower weeknights, introducing “Skate For A Cause” events, for which 15 percent of admission tickets was donated to various charities, including the Make-A-Wish Foundation and Big Brothers Big Sisters. Promotions for the nonprofits ranged from skating with the Florida Marlins to Pirate Night and an Elvis On Ice contest. “The local media exposure for the ice rink and all the promotional activities was tremendous,” says Danny. “We had in-house guests who skated, but most of the business was driven off our promotional effort and from downtown foot traffic. Tim’s brainstorm was a huge hit, and one we want to repeat. Next year, we’ll already have our nonprofit and corporate business partners in place, and the ice rink and charity campaign will be an even bigger success.”
‘PATIO PAIRING’ If
Matches Traditional Spring Favorites
ever two F&B items were made for each other, it’s burgers and beer. And as the weather gets warmer, the appeal gets stronger. The Holiday Inn and Crowne Plaza brands are out to take advantage of that fact with a second quarter promotion that pairs the two, featuring Samuel Adams beer.
The promotion, which will launch in April and run through June, is open to all Holiday Inn and Crowne Plaza hotels in the U.S., and in Canada where the beers are available. Hotels in the World Class Beverage Program are automatically included. The featured brews include traditional Samuel Adams Boston Lager as well as a seasonal offering, Samuel Adams Summer Ale. “The burger-and-beer pairing is one of our standard, centerof-the-plate seasonal promotions for these two brands, and it always performs well in terms of stimulating business,” says Scott Chapman, Project Manager, Food and Beverage. “It’s our second-most-popular promotion with the hotels, right behind the ribs-and-beer summer promotion we’ll be running in conjunction with Budweiser.” Because of its broad appeal across the Holiday Inn brand “Everyday Hero” consumer target, beer is generally a common
denominator for the revolving quarterly promotions, Scott explains. While mainstream beers are selected for the hotweather, summer offerings, the F&B team usually chooses a more craft-oriented beer for the shoulder-season promotions. The Samuel Adams Summer Ale (available only in the United States) is the perfect example, he notes—an American Wheat Ale brewed with lemon peel and rare, Grains of Paradise pepper from Africa, giving the beer a tropical fruit note reminiscent of mangoes and peaches. Participating hotels will receive a promotional kit; the Canadian version is available in both English and French. Elements of the package include a table tent, large and small posters and menu insert cards for restaurant and bar point-of-sale, along with staff guidelines and a one-page implementation guide. “This promotion is a proven winner,” Scott concludes. “Both the Summer Ale and the Boston Lager are a perfect match for the Classic Burger that each of our hotels already offers some variation of, making it easy for the hotels to implement. We expect it to generate a nice F&B revenue lift for spring at participating properties.” 15
Marketer’s Framework: 10 Elements Required to Generate Sustainable Trust in Your Brands
1. Stand up for what you stand for. 2. P romise what you intend to deliver and deliver what you promise. 3. Provide extraordinary guarantees. 4. Simplify choice complexity—we live in an “over-choiced” world. 5. Be a trusted information source.
6. Educate consumers. 7. Be open and transparent. 8. Be responsive and responsible. 9. Don’t speculate, collaborate. Collaboration is better than confrontation. 10. Support causes.
BrandHearted F&B C
onsumers expect a lot from brands these days, but at the heart of every truly great brand is trustworthiness.
“Without trust, you don’t have a brand, you have an empty claim,” says Larry Light, IHG’s new global Chief Brands Officer. “Every brand makes a promise of a certain experience. Strong brands have earned the trust of their customers to actually deliver on their promises.” Developing a sustainable foundation of trust—being BrandHearted— involves 10 key elements (see the list above) and has high-potential implications for IHG’s food and beverage agenda, Larry notes.
just the brand, but the company behind it,” Larry says. “People care about the foods and beverages they consume—not just about the taste, but also about being able to trust in what they consume. They also care about areas such as stewardship of the environment and the well-being of employees.”
As IHG continues to focus on its overall brand-building, including the IHG food and beverage strategy, it’s important to maintain a global perspective, but be locally relevant.
“If companies try to standardize the world, the consumer will fight back,” he says. “Being sensitive to cultural differences is key, “Food and beverage involves a much bigger guest experience than whether it’s in China, Europe or the Americas. There are lots of what’s in the glass or on the plate,” he says. “It’s an important part of ways to make our global, brand-wide F&B strategies locally relevant, the stay or visit, and can be a significant differentiator for IHG’s brands.” whether it’s in the areas of brand standards, menu or restaurant design, or in the promotional arena, such as with signature items.” Building trust with modern consumers, informed and connected as they are by the Internet, has become a much greater challenge over Larry also believes IHG and the World Class Beverage Program the past decade, Larry says. “Trust in all established institutions— have the opportunity to take our relationships with supplier government, big business, etc.—is declining, giving rise to a partners to an even higher level. significant level of skepticism. It used to be that all you needed was “Our vendors can truly become our strategic partners,” he says. brand awareness. Now that’s no longer enough; we need brand “They view the market from a lens we’ll never have a chance to look differentiation and credibility as well.” through, working with more hotels and restaurants than we will ever A by-product of the emphasis on building trust is the growing come in contact with. We invite them to understand our strategy, importance of corporate social responsibility. “It’s moved beyond and we welcome their ideas for new concepts and ways to be being brand loyal. Consumers believe they should be able to trust not innovative in the beverage experience. We have a huge opportunity together—when our sales go up, of course, theirs do, too.” 16
To learn more about menu engineering, log-in to the World Class Beverage Program site and click on Resources > Menu Engineering.
The Ideal Menu C
reating or redesigning a menu can seem a bit like putting together a jigsaw puzzle: which items to add, keep or drop? How should they be priced? What’s the optimum layout and design to maximize guest purchases and restaurant or bar profit?
To help resolve the dilemma and ensure the highest level of menu effectiveness for IHG hotels, the Food & Beverage team employs some of the most advanced techniques and highly regarded resources in the industry. “We’re committed to bringing the ‘best of the best’ to bear to ensure the guest is delighted with the experience and our bars and restaurants deliver the desired levels of profit,” says Jean-Pierre Etcheberrigaray, Vice President, Food & Beverage, the Americas. The menu layout equation has two key parts, Jean-Pierre notes:
To guide this process, IHG utilizes a cross-section of traditional approaches and analysis, innovative, high-technology assessments and comprehensive data mining. Specifically, support is provided by: • Greg Rapp—one of the industry’s foremost experts, who specializes in refreshing “tired” menus. Rapp’s traditional menu analysis includes plotting “popularity” against “profit” for each item to clarify decisionmaking and strategy. •E yeTracking, Inc.—the leading provider of state-of-the-art computerbased eye-tracking services and software. This company’s technology tracks actual eye-gaze movements as test subjects read menus, providing absolute certainty as to what diners in our restaurants look at, look at first and view the longest, as well as what they ignore.
2) Creating a menu that sells what you want to sell
•T echnomic Menu Monitor—Subscribers such as IHG have access to a massive, searchable online database of menus as well as a host of analytical tools to help identify trends in items, flavors and concepts, helping ensure that the fundamentals of our menus are sound.
The answer to the question, “What should I sell?” sounds deceptively simple: sell what makes the most profit. This is determined by carefully analyzing the profit from each item and the number of each item sold over a given period of time, from the high-profit, high-volume ribeye, for example, to the low-performing veggie pasta that may be on the menu to accommodate vegetarian customers.
“All three work together to create a comprehensive, multi-dimensional approach to developing and refining our menus,” Jean-Pierre says. “We are applying these resources in a number of areas, across all our full-service brands. A few examples include our ongoing refinement of the menu for The Hub at Holiday Inn, development of the menu for our new EVEN™ Hotels and early-stage testing of content and layout for iPad menus.
With the relative profit of all items identified, the next step is to apply menu engineering tactics to determine what to keep, eliminate, highlight or reposition, as well as how to price or potentially reduce costs. The final step is to apply menu layout strategies—including engaging descriptions and visual cues such as color, boxes and shading—to drive customer buying decisions.
“We continue to learn and improve so that we can provide the best process to our hotels for creating and ‘smart-selling’ through their menus. This supports fulfilling on our goal of enhancing the role of food and beverage in delivering Great Hotels Guests Love.”
1) Determining what you want to sell
Establish, feed and grow your positive reputation online, managing your â€œdigital platform.â€? You need to know how your customers are using technology to find you and talk about you.
Social Marketing Part 3: Strengthening Your Digital Shield
In the third in our series on effective social marketing, IHG food and beverage consultant Ned Barker, President of Grill Ventures Consulting, Inc., explains how to avoid being maligned online. 18
Phoenix, a customer wrote a blog complaining about a restaurant’s pizza. The owner/chef responded personally: “My dough is made fresh every day from 100-percent organic ingredients. Perhaps your palate is not sophisticated enough to tell the difference.”
In Chicago, a customer tweeted that her pizza delivery took an hour, and then was the wrong pizza. Minutes later, after sending the correct pizza on its way, the restaurant owner and manager tweeted the customer an apology—with a video of them apologizing and inviting her back. In each case there are likely dozens, perhaps hundreds, who saw the response. The point is this: any response you make is a marketing message, which may end up being circulated more widely than the marketing you pay for. I’ll leave it to you to decide which of the two messages above you’d prefer to have making the rounds online. I’ll bet you have a strategic marketing plan. But does it include how you will respond to public comments made about your bar, restaurant or catering via the Internet? If not, well, it’s time to complete that plan.
Let me suggest this four-part strategy, followed by some specific tactics: 1. S trengthen your “digital shield.” In their new book, Digital Assassination, authors Richard Torrenzano and Mark Davis discuss the “Seven Shields of Digital Assassination.” While much of their advice pertains to large corporations, several of their suggestions might well be heeded by bar and restaurant operators. Here are a few: • Keep up with digital trends and maintain at least a cursory understanding of “what’s out there.” You need to know how your customers are using technology to find you and talk about you. Two of their site recommendations for general reference are consistently entertaining and educational: Mashable and Gizmodo. • Establish, feed and grow your positive reputation online, managing your “digital platform.” For previous readers, this won’t be new. Add positive, engaging content to your accounts at Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Yelp. • Have a strong “storefront” —that is, a website. • Listen! (See #3, right.)
2. Treat all complaints and negative statements as significant positive marketing opportunities. How often does someone present you with an opportunity to market your bar or restaurant online—for free? For example, you can pay to advertise on Yelp. Or you can respond to that complaint, turn that customer into your “brand ambassador” (see the “tactics” section, below), and draw much more attention than paid positioning could ever deliver. 3. Listen. Last year I recommended that you sign up your business for Google Alerts. That’s still a sound idea. But as you expand your presence in the digital world, you’ll want to listen even more actively. Sites like TweetDeck or HootSuite will help you stay on top of tweets about your business, with little effort on your part. Hyper Alerts can make it much easier to monitor your Facebook page(s). 4. Consider going “over the top.” Not every time. But your strategic planning should include a discussion of this. Remember the pizza apology video? Within a year of that apology, the video had been embedded on sites and pages 96,000 times.
Strategy in place? Now for the tactics. 1. Respond promptly. The timing, in fact, will become part of the content of your response. Corollary: don’t respond “after hours,” or late at night when you’re home relaxing with a drink, for example. Your response is an important business activity; treat it accordingly. 2. Respond professionally. Would you post an ad on a billboard or in a newspaper without proofreading and spellchecking the content? Perhaps share your response with a colleague before posting. 3. Respond to all comments, even positive comments. Remember that social media is a conversation, and you’re seeking to build relationships. The “digital shield” may help you defend yourself, but keep in mind that the best defense is a good offense. And your primary offensive “weapon” is content. If you’re searching for some new ideas, don’t overlook IHG’s FB Confitdential blog! 19
The World Class Beverage Program Global Sampler
The InterContinental Hong Kong Offers
FOR EVERYONE T
he Lobby Lounge of the InterContinental Hong Kong provides not only a spectacular panoramic view of the city’s Victoria Harbour, but also the chance to choose your dragon. Guests are invited to select from a menu of Nine Dragons Cocktails, inspired by the name of the peninsula on which a great portion of Hong Kong sits—Kowloon, which in Cantonese means Nine Dragons.
“The dragons represent eight mountains situated around Hong Kong, plus a Chinese emperor,” explains Bryan Chiu, who has been Food and Beverage Director for the InterContinental Hong Kong for almost four years. “Our servers tell the story of each cocktail and its dragon, giving the guest an ‘in the know’ experience and the chance to sample a bit of the city’s variety and culture.” The nine dragons are also a metaphor for the broad diversity of the hotel’s international clientele, including business and leisure guests from the U.S. and Europe as well as Japan, mainland China and elsewhere in Asia-Pacific. To appeal to the wide range of tastes represented—and to compete successfully in the city’s compact, 20
intensely competitive marketplace—the InterContinental Hong Kong offers a variety of restaurants. NOBU InterContinental Hong Kong is a member of the world’s most acclaimed Japanese restaurant group, with locations in more than a dozen countries. The Michelin 2-Star SPOON by Alain Ducasse is a chic, sophisticated venue created by the celebrated chef that offers contemporary French cuisine. The hotel’s Chinese restaurant, Yan Toh Heen, has earned one Michelin star for three consecutive years and is recognized as one of the world’s best Chinese restaurants specializing in Cantonese cuisine. Rounding out the offerings are THE STEAK HOUSE winebar + grill, an American-style haven for meat-lovers, and Harbourside, which offers casual, all-day dining and elaborate, international buffets, with a harbor’s-edge view.
Top-Level Rankings Not satisfied to simply offer an extensive selection of dining options, the hotel’s F&B team has also endeavored—successfully— to make these restaurants the finest in Hong Kong. THE STEAK
THE STEAK HOUSE winebar + grill
Yan Toh Heen
F&B Director Bryan Chiu
HOUSE ranks as the #1 steakhouse in the city, and Harbourside has been recognized for having Hong Kong’s best Sunday brunch. The InterContinental Hong Kong is also the only hotel in the city with three Wine Spectator Awards of Excellence for three of its restaurants—SPOON by Alain Ducasse, THE STEAK HOUSE winebar + grill and Yan Toh Heen.
The hotel ranks at the top for its meeting and banquet space and service as well, Bryan notes, with two levels of harbourview function rooms and one of the largest ballrooms in Hong Kong. For the meeting planner, the hotel provides the perfect combination of a great location within the city, extensive and well-designed space and famously impeccable service.
“Next year, we think we can achieve four,” Bryan says confidently. “Each of our wine lists is carefully developed to reflect the theme and personality of each restaurant. For the French experience in SPOON by Alain Ducasse, for example, we offer over 600 different labels, 60 percent of them from France. THE STEAK HOUSE winebar + grill features a wine list of more than 650 labels, with a focus on Wine Spectator Top 50-rated California vintages.”
Staying Ahead of the Curve
THE STEAK HOUSE also boasts a hefty selection of large format wines, ranging from three to 15 liters. “Some wines mature better in bigger bottles,” Bryan explains. “We showcase the city’s most extensive selection of large format bottles to offer our guests something new and different. The larger bottles are attentiongetters, and every week we open at least one double magnum wine and offer it by the glass, half-carafe or full carafe.”
Bryan relies on a top-notch kitchen and service team to ensure consistency in F&B experiences, in order to fulfill on IHG’s vision of being a Great Hotel Guests Love. “Communication is a top priority for our staff, and our culture overall is very open,” he says. “No one is shy about offering opinions, and we sometimes agree to disagree, as we discuss how we might make things even better. Our staff members are dedicated to the operation and have a real passion for food and beverage. Many of them even check out the competition on their own time, to bring back ideas for new customer services and promotions that will help us stay on the leading edge of Hong Kong’s ever-changing trends and tastes.”
Food & Beverage News from IHG Hotels in Latin America
by the Stars Can consulting horoscope readings really determine the ideal dish for an individual?
The food and beverage team at the InterContinental Buenos Aires has taken that premise and turned it into a long-running, successful media promotion. Four years ago, the hotel began hosting twice-monthly, complimentary astrology-themed luncheons for members of the Buenos Aires media. Executive Chef Bertrand Eginard teamed with Susy Forte, a well-known local astrologer, to create a continually changing series of luncheon entrees based on the character traits associated with each sign of the zodiac. Examples: Cancer people love home, family and good food, and are excellent hosts. For them, Bertrand created a sophisticated comfort food dish, Linguini Tizi. Virgos always demand the best, looking after every detail and seeking perfection. Their best astrological option: a chicken and seeds salad. Passionate, enterprising Aires are matched with leg of lamb in red wine sauce. As the guests enjoy their meal, astrologist Susy goes table-to-table to chat and read Tarot cards to tell the future. While the goal of the promotional luncheons is to develop positive press relationships, the result has been a steady stream of television and print media coverage over the years, most recently a January 2012 feature in Clarín, one of Argentina’s most important daily newspapers. “The events give us the opportunity to showcase our hotel to the press and Susy the chance to promote her books,” Bertrand says. “And everyone has a great time.” 22
Congratulations Are In Order... IHG restaurants and bars in the Americas continue to make their mark in the public arena. Here are some recent examples...
The ratings are based on points scored in a rigorous, seven-part process that involves environmental assessments and consulting, implementation of sustainability enhancements and verification. Well done!
Growing the ‘Green’ List Five InterContinental Hotels recently earned Three- and TwoStar Green Restaurant® certification from the Green Restaurant Association. The ratings move the InterContinental brand in the Americas closer to its 2012 goal of having all restaurants and bars green certified and becoming the first hotel group in the world to accomplish this. Those achieving the certification are: HHH L uce Restaurant and Bar 888 at the InterContinental San Francisco HHH Barclay Bar & Grill at the InterContinental New York Barclay he Park Grill and Lobby Lounge at the HH T InterContinental Los Angeles Century City he Top of the Mark at the InterContinental HH T Mark Hopkins San Francisco ignatures restaurant and Proof Vodka Bar at HH S the InterContinental Toronto Yorkville
Celebrations for The Sarah B. The February issue of enRoute, inflight magazine for Air Canada, featured an article on Canadian hotel bars titled, “17 Refreshing Spots for Thirsty Travellers.” Included in the high-profile list: The Sarah B., the absinthe-themed bar at the InterContinental Montreal. Santé!
The Official Magazine of the World Class Beverage Program Jean-Pierre Etcheberrigaray | Vice President, F&B Americas Laura Hammer | Office Manager, F&B Americas
JP’s Top 10
for Food & Beverage
Pamela Tweedell | iMi Agency Ann Wilson | Writer & Editor Silvermoss Partners | Art Direction & Layout World Class Beverage Program Contact/Support: 770.604.8283 | firstname.lastname@example.org
The World Class Beverage Program Family
The World Class Beverage Program Family of Bra
1 Stay perpetually unsatisfied... but in a positive way.
The Official Website of the IHG F&B Community The Official Website of the IHG F&B Community
2 Quality! Quality! Quality!
3 Study The Industry. 4 Inject Drama... and
Implement with Zeal.
5 “Carpe Poenitentia”–
Seize The Opportunity.
6 Sweat The Details.
7 Stay The Course. 8 Do The Right Thing. 9 Be Passionate! 10 Remember The Soup!
The Official Magazine of the World Cl
The Official Magazine of the World Class B www. fbconfitdential.com
Three Ravinia Drive Suite 100 Atlanta, Georgia 30346 www.ihg.com