One of a Kind: Marketing Tools for Bars That Work

White Limozeen rooftop Graduate Hotel Nashville Marketing Tools for Bars
The rooftop area of White Limozeen at the Graduate Hotel in Nashville

I don’t know about you, but sometimes my cash flow is not optimal.  It’s the cost of doing business and living life; and you need to plan for it, including rising costs, if you intend to stay afloat.  But every once in a while, you’re thrown an unexpected lifeline.  Like this morning when a text popped up from Dunkin’ Donuts beckoning me in for a purchase.  The lure they dangled in front of me?  Extra points on my loyalty account would be accrued as a reward for making that third visit this month.  Who could turn their nose up at that?  Especially when coffee today means more coffee, or a DunKings treat, for free, tomorrow? 

My point?  Perceived value.  That’s what your customers want.  A value to engaging with your beverage offerings that goes beyond simple hospitality in a way that really resonates. And it is not all just about saving money.  Sometimes it’s about savoring experiences.  Experiences you can relish on premise, as well as those you can take home with you.

Like the new edition of the White Limozeen that’s dropping this spring. The ‘zine found at namesake bar White Limozeen at the Graduate Hotel in Nashville is a creative project delighting guests that Marc Rose, Founder/Owner of Call Mom, a hospitality company that owns and operates restaurants and bars and partners with hotels as F&B partners, is really proud of. He explains his unique approach to making the bar a memorable part of any guest’s experience as he says, “I think this is truly a Nashville place with a Nashville story.  We get to entertain and take care of people in Nashville, and people who come here too.  We get to give them a good time and they go home and share the stories about it.  That’s the great thing about operating hotel bars.  I felt like we had a lot of stories to tell.  It’s easy to look at our space and say, ‘it’s an ode to Dolly.’  But there’s so much more to be said about Nashville and this is a peek inside.”

White Limozeen rooftop Graduate Hotel Nashville
The rooftop area of White Limozeen at the Graduate Hotel in Nashville

That peek behind the curtain of what makes Nashville so special, is at the heart of Rose’s content which is written by locals and published by local publisher Joe Clemons.  The stories of Nashville resonate with visitors and locals alike.  And, while they’re only three issues in and without a metric ton of data to analyze the impact, Rose is getting good feedback and believes the project is an important part of their marketing.  He points out, “Most bars if they have marketing dollars are looking at cocktail specials.  We wanted to go further.  It’s my duty to a town that allows us to come in to tell these stories.  When you go to a party you get a party favor – this is our favor.  There’s more we can do as we become lifestyle hubs.  We want them to come back.  It’s our responsibility to give them more than a bite to eat or just a good selfie to take.  I know when you have a limited amount of time to leave a mark on them I feel like this is an opportunity to take a step toward doing that.  If White Limozeen can do more than just leaving them with the thought ‘that’s a great cheeseburger (or a drink),’ we’ve really done our job.”

Six years ago, Mac Gregory joined Pacifica Hotels as their VP of Food & Beverage and instituted a new barrel program that does the job of creating a unique experience guests at their bars can’t get anywhere else.  For the veteran beverage expert, he knows that guests are wowed when the menus offer exclusivity.  He shares, “Everyone wants to be valued.  To do that we have partnered with tequila, bourbon, whiskey, and rum producers to buy barrels from them.  Doing so creates an experience that you can’t get elsewhere, because nobody else has the liquid from that exact barrel.”

  • AyrKing Mixstir
  • DAVO by Avalara
  • Epiq Global Payment Card Settlement
  • Day & Nite
  • AHF National Conference 2024
  • McKee Foodservice Sunbelt Bakery
  • Inline Plastics
  • RATIONAL USA
  • T&S Brass Eversteel Pre-Rinse Units
  • Cuisine Solutions
  • RAK Porcelain
  • Atosa USA
  • BelGioioso Burrata
  • Simplot Frozen Avocado
  • Imperial Dade
  • Easy Ice

Getting your hands on a select barrel takes years of relationship building with producers.  And, of course, sales as Gregory notes, “One of the commitments to buying a barrel is to sell it.  It can’t just be a trophy. Having these barrels is a statement that lends credibility to our programming; it’s credibility that we know how to use and move the product and that big global producers are willing to sell us one.  For example, El Tesoro extra añejo Mundial was produced in a quantity of just three barrels.  Worldwide.  We got one of them.”

A barrel like this is more than just a feather in the cap of a beverage pro like Gregory; more importantly it elevates the beverage program and shows guests the hotel really cares.  That is why those select bottles are mandated for use in cocktails, proudly displayed on the back bar and called out in the menu with the following language, “The Pacifica Private Label and Barrel Program was developed as a continued commitment to cultivate a beverage program that is best in class. We partner with top Spirit Brands to create a unique experience for our Teams and our Guests.  Through the collaboration of each unique barrel, we can allocate distinctive selections that are only offered to Pacifica Guests.  People are drawn to stories. Great brands have great stories. Each one of our barrels that was selected specifically for Pacifica Hotels has a unique story that draws our Guests to that product.  Each private barrel provides our guests with an experience that cannot be replicated outside of the social milieu we have specially developed throughout the Pacifica Hotels portfolio.” 

Those liquid stories are the crux of the total experience, which Gregory knows is how you judge whether you come back or not.  He also sees the private barrels and labels, like those through the Rare Character program which are hand selected and hand blended white labeled spirits for the specific venue, as an opportunity for additional sales outside of the bar.  Dependent upon local laws, of course.  In concert with his regular Makers events, bottle sales are a hit.  He explains, “All of our private barrels and labels allow for full bottle sales and our full bottle sales are robust on all of our properties.  Once our cocktails are introduced to the menu and our guests, we have an increased interest in full bottle sales.  We offer all of our private barrel portfolio onsite sales during our Makers Events and always sell a few bottles or as many as a dozen+.  The fact we actually sell through our barrels is proof in the pudding of purchasing barrels every year.  For example, we will be purchasing a Makers Barrel for our Kona property and a barrel of Buffalo Trace for our California properties in July.  The only way we could buy these two barrels is because we have sold through our existing product.  In addition, we are currently about to be out of our private label Rum(s), and we are cleared to buy another Rum barrel when we decide on a new Rum Brand to purchase a barrel from.  Moreover, we will be buying a Herradura Tequila Barrel in Q1 2025 to replace our current Tequila barrel of El Tesoro that we will have worked through by end of year.”

Whether it is the beginning, middle or end of the year it is never a bad time to evaluate your affinity programs.  Actually, Zach Goldstein, Founder and CEO of Thanx might tell you it is never soon enough. He attributes the creation of Thanx to the fact that old school loyalty program methods hadn’t changed and weren’t working any more. He explains, “A loyalty program not using data is doing a disservice to the bottom line, and to the guest. The traditional buy x get y program is discount dependent, which is expensive, and sets a really high bar for ROI.  Also, it’s static.  As a result of being static and discount dependent you’re underutilizing your biggest asset…data.  Our data suggests that a consumer who visits a third time within 180 days is 10x more valuable than the customer who visits 1 time.”

Leveraging that data assists a restaurant struggling to retain a direct relationship with their customers and enables them to deliver a better experience the next time too. Though, Goldstein knows that how to use all the data available can be overwhelming. Goldstein says, “I think restaurants can be intimidated by what do I do with all this data that I now have.  And it can be paralyzing.  However, the restaurants we find are most successful test and iterate.  Perfect is the enemy of good.  Restaurants that use their newfound data to progressively iterate and move quickly to provide new experiences for customers win.  The ones who go slow to try and develop a perfect marketing campaign will be disappointed.”

A disappointed guest, and a disappointing bottom line, can be avoided when the goal is to build business over the long term and stay competitive in the market. Doing that means delivering hospitality and convenience through digital channels and marketing they are consuming off premise.  He shares, “Doing so gives you the opportunity to personally interact with guests even when they’re not in restaurant and to build lifetime incentives to build loyalty from those guests.  With Thanx a restaurant brand can create any exchange of value and non -discount forms of loyalty; merch stores, VIP experiences, hidden menus, hidden access to LTOs, VIP reservation inventory, etc.  The idea is to give customer choice first of all, and second of all create offerings through a loyalty program that are about exclusivity, status and joy as they are about giving discount.

In an environment where restaurants are under extreme margin pressure, unique offerings to get people to come back for more, turning them into one of the most powerful revenue drivers you can use.

The methods of delight, selection, quality, convenience, and discounts are clearly all behind what brings guests to White Limozeen, Pacifica Hotels bars and me to Dunkin’ Donuts.   I’m telling you, there’s something to be said for value and experiences that go hand in hand.  Rose agrees as he concludes, “In our business there are peaks and valleys, and you want to operate our business from a sound standpoint.  But you shouldn’t stress about just having lines out the door for 2 months.  You want to be busy, and servicing people in a great innovative way for decades.  Not months.” 


Uncle Waithley's Sorrel

SIPS TO SAVOR:

Uncle Waithley’s Vincy Brew “Caribbean Sorrel”

It’s a banner day when you find a product you love, like Uncle Waithley’s Vincey Brew, the small-batch non-alcoholic carbonated ginger beer that was developed by mixologist Karl Franz Williams in homage to his grandfather, Uncle Waithley, who spent his life on the island of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.  This Vincy Brew that includes Scotch Bonnet pepper, ginger, turmeric, and lime is a year-round go to.  But our days just got better with the revelation that Caribbean Sorrel is about to be released.  The ruby red sparkler that is tart with citrus notes rounded out by allspice, West Indian bay leaf, ceylon, nutmeg, clove, dried orange peel and cardamom, gets its flavor  – and color – from steeped Hibiscus.  Sorrel is the first of four new authentic Caribbean flavors launching this year to celebrate the culture, culinary traditions, and bold flavors of the region.  We can’t wait!  Get in touch with

  • RAK Porcelain
  • Imperial Dade
  • DAVO by Avalara
  • Cuisine Solutions
  • BelGioioso Burrata
  • AHF National Conference 2024
  • Epiq Global Payment Card Settlement
  • AyrKing Mixstir
  • Atosa USA
  • Inline Plastics
  • Simplot Frozen Avocado
  • T&S Brass Eversteel Pre-Rinse Units
  • RATIONAL USA
  • McKee Foodservice Sunbelt Bakery
  • Easy Ice
  • Day & Nite
Francine Cohen
Francine Cohen is an award-winning journalist covering the business of the f&b/hospitality industry, and a proud native Washingtonian (DC). In addition to her work as a journalist she keeps busy fundraising for Citymeals on Wheels, Les Dames d’Escoffier, NY Women’s Culinary Alliance, and the USBG Foundation and serves as chief storyteller and brand steward for clients in the food and beverage sector by providing them with strategic marketing and business growth guidance. She has never met a cheese or beverage she does not like, and lives with her husband in New York; leaving him behind to visit New Orleans every summer. (Except 2020. Darn pandemic.) You can reach her at francinecohen@mindspring.com
Subscribe
Notify of
guest

0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments