By Don Billings, publisher
This past month, in the Mix magazine (ITM) had the great pleasure of hosting the third B4 Summit, held this year at The Cloister at Sea Island, Georgia. The event is a prestigious gathering of leading hospitality operators, beverage brand suppliers and allied industry associates. “B4” is an acronym for Building Better Beverage Business ™, and the idea of holding summits was conceived in recognition of a need to address the changes taking place in our industry.
At this conference, we took a look at some of the ways the on-premise national chain operators and beverage brands can take positive action to grow their beverage businesses. To accomplish this, ITM in conjunction with IMI Agency, brought together a group of speakers who are experts in their fields to share their knowledge in very specific areas of creative thinking and innovative concepts, beverage consumer fundamentals, guest interaction and educational training initiatives. Throughout the summit, participants were exposed to an expanded spectrum of services emerging from IMI, with the vision of linking on-premise campaigns to larger brand strategy marketing solutions. The ultimate take-away was valuable actionable ideas and resources to bring back to their respective companies for implementation.
The summit provided numerous networking opportunities and events for shared goals, intelligence, competencies and experiences, while offering participants opportunities to build relationships with the other B4 guests and sponsors.
in the Mix magazine has grown into a media business solutions national business that includes print, digital, video, web, event and mobile service applications. We use a rifled approach to reach our audience of national hospitality buyers, F&B managers, unit general managers and executive chefs. Our subscribers include approximately 6,000 restaurant units, 2,500 hotels, 300 concession venues as well as 2,000 corporate headquarters. This is extraordinary for a niche market B2B publication that is exclusive to the on-premise national accounts segment of the hospitality business.
Keynote Speaker, Don Peppers, founding partner, Peppers & Rogers Group
Recognized for more than 20 years as one of the world’s leading authorities on customer-focused business strategies, Don Peppers is an acclaimed author and a founding partner of Peppers & Rogers Group, the world’s premier customer-centric management consulting firm.
With co-author Martha Rogers, Ph.D., Peppers has produced nine international bestsellers. Collectively, well over a million copies have sold, in 18 languages.
Don Peppers opened our summit with the subject focus on extreme trust and building strong relationships with clients. Technology changes the very dimension of business competition, whether it’s between B2C or B2B. Interaction occurs both ways between two parties, relationships are interactive and successful relationships generate trust.
Click here to view Don Peppers’ full presentation.
“Consumer Commerce in an Omni-Channel World”
Marie W. Mui, senior vice president and regional sales manager, Wells Fargo Bank
Robert Gates, vice president, Wells Fargo Bank
Marie Mui is a senior vice president and regional sales manager with Wells Fargo Bank, Treasury Management and Wholesale eReceivables. Marie has over 20 years of combined banking, e-commerce and payments application experience. Marie and her team are responsible for designing and implementing omni-channel payments solutions that improve customer end-user experience while helping businesses automate on the back end.
Robert has primary responsibility for providing electronic receivables expertise. Robert consults with wholesale banking customers on the entire invoice-to-payment process, looking for ways to add efficiencies while reducing cost, increasing working capital and minimizing risk exposure.
Marie and Robert’s presentation discussed what consumers want and expect, which is anytime,
anywhere and any-channel access to you. The focus was on the hospitality sector, and the speakers provided a roadmap to help our operators achieve a more robust interaction. Omni-channel consumer engagement outperforms the competition.
Click here to view Wells Fargo’s social platform presentation.
“The Wine Experience – Inside the Mind of the Millennial”
Eric Hemer, senior vice president, director of Wine Education at Southern Wine and Spirits, certified wine educator, master sommelier, master of wine
Jayne Portnoy, vice president of Marketing & Brand Strategy at Napa Technology
This presentation and discussion initiated in The Cloister at Sea Island wine cellar, with an introduction by Ryanne Carrier, Sea Island director of Wine & Spirits. The tasting then took place up in the Spanish Lounge and included an array of wines in a series of Napa technology wine stations, selected by participating wine brands.
The presentation focused on the economic juggernaut of the soon to be 80 million Millennials of drinking age, most of whom are big champions of wine. It concentrated on getting to know the Millennial generation and what their behavior trends and taste profiles are. Along with that, the strong trend of technology through automation from tablet to table was also discussed.
Click here to view The Wine Experience.
“Global Beverage Trends – Menu Adaptation”
Maeve Webster, senior director of Datassential
Datassential is a leading consultant for foodservice manufacturers and operators. Maeve has spearheaded hundreds of major industry studies during her 15 years as a foodservice specialist, and today designs and manages both consumer and operator-based studies in Datassential’s strategic research group. Maeve’s expertise is in the areas of trend analysis, market assessment, consumer behavior, product testing and brand optimization.
Maeve’s topics covered alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverage trends, as well as the menu cycle of drinks from inception, adoption and proliferation, to ubiquity. She used examples of recent trends such as hard root beer, cider, mead, Prohibition-era cocktails and cocktails on tap.
She also discussed the road to innovation and experimentation in global flavor trends from smoked, spicy and bitter flavors, to barrel-aged spirits and creative mocktails.
Click here to view the Global Beverage Trends presentation.
Adam Billings, Technology & Innovation, IMI
Annie Eaton, ATLvr
Jake Lance, ATLvr
Adam teamed up with Annie and Jake from ATLvr (IMI’s virtual reality partner) to demonstrate the latest in this new technology.
Fly through the agave fields to the Patron tequila distillery, experience the process of making bourbon with Jim Beam Devil’s Cut, and discover virtual reality postcards by Marriott Hotels. Virtual reality is making a move from gaming to the mainstream. The applications are endless but it’s the branding and education opportunities that are making all the noise. B4 Summit guests were able to experience virtual reality firsthand with these industry-first exclusives.
Click here to view the Virtual Hospitality presentation.
Adam Billings, Technology & Innovation, IMI with
Scott Riley, CEO, Fintech
Nikhil (Nik) Kundra, co-founder and CEO, Partender
Brendan Reilly, CEO, GuestMetrics, LLC
The next generation of corporate beverage buyers is using data analytics to manage their beverage programs and the results are impressive. This seminar explored three leading technologies that drive innovation in purchasing behavior, inventory control and sales analysis. B4 Summit guests discovered how fresh insights allow them to capture the time-value of data and act with confidence.
Jason Page, Creative Director, IMI and
Colleen Sisler, Production Manager – Creative Services, IMI
Colleen Sisler and Jason Page of the Creative Services Department at IMI Agency presented “Social Intelligence – Leverage Social + Add Value.” Jason began the session by defining a few terms, outlining top active platforms relevant to our industry, and numbers of users in not only social but mobile as well. He then moved into social listening – what the operators, brands, and our guests want, and a few insights into what we can learn from listening. Colleen followed by speaking about digital marketing and using social to support our initiatives with basic marketing principles that apply to the digital world. She spoke about moving away from strict “old-world” demographics and toward tribe behavior, with help from comedian Lewis Black. We saw an in-depth example of social in action with the B4 Summit charity of choice, CORE. Finally, the session finished by offering a toolkit IMI Agency uses, as well as a few takeaways we can move forward with now. Reach out to IMI Agency to find out more!
Click here to view the Social Intelligence presentation.
Dinner in the Georgian Room and the Speakeasy Cocktail Party
We had a group dinner in the magnificent Georgian Room, a Forbes Travel Guide Five Star-rated restaurant at The Cloister. After dinner, everyone was given a Prohibition-era cocktail with a secret password frozen inside of the ice. All the guests then entered the Georgian Lounge, proceeded through black velvet curtains behind the bar into the back-of-house kitchens, and down a hall into a secret speakeasy party complete with a jazz band playing and roaring 20s’ specialty cocktails to choose from.
“History of the Cosmopolitan Cocktail”
No introduction is necessary for Tony Abou-Ganim and Dale DeGroff. They are at the “top of the heap,” as Frank Sinatra would croon.
One of the really fun things we did was to bring all of the B4 guests into the Beach Club’s movie theater and watch a feature video on the history of the cosmopolitan through the eyes of Tony Abou-Ganim and Dale DeGroff, featuring an award-winning cast of industry players. Everyone received perfectly prepared cosmos (Absolut Citron, Cointreau, Ocean Spray Cranberry Juice and fresh lemon juice) along with bags of popcorn, as we watched a classic cocktail reborn. The video productions were broken into three vignettes: “What Makes a Classic,” “The Wrong Way to Prepare a Cosmopolitan” and “The Correct Way to Prepare a Cosmopolitan.” Tony then followed onstage with a presentation to reinforce the fact that the cosmo is a true classic and if prepared properly, is still one of the great cocktails of all time. This was clearly shades of the “Tony & Tina’s Negroni” production from the last B4 Summit.
Mix It Up – Throw-Down
This was an interactive competition with operators divided up into four teams. Each team was given two secret food ingredients and a primary spirit with which to create an appetizer and cocktail pairing from one of four channel hospitality categories: casual dining, fine dining, concessions and hotels. Some team members worked on the food preparation and execution in the kitchen, while others worked on the pairing cocktail at a catering bar setup. The teams were given 45 minutes to come up with their creation. The cocktail winner was the crowd favorite for mixology and the judges selected the best culinary and best pairing. We had so much fun we forgot who won.
The master of ceremonies was Patrick McGinn, IMI.
The mixology correspondent was Tony Abou-Ganim, The Modern Mixologist.
The culinary correspondent was Mark Greenhalgh, IMI.
THE JUDGES WERE:
Mike Raven, managing editor, in the Mix magazine
Lauren LaViola, director of COREgives.org
Charlotte Voisey, head of ambassadors for William Grant & Sons
Brittany Chardin, head shaker, Movers & Shakers Beverage Consultants, Inc.
Scott Hempstead, director of On-Premise for Boston Beer.
The B4 Summit, on behalf of in the Mix magazine, IMI and all of the B4 sponsors, has selected CORE as our nonprofit charity for the 10th year. A check for $5,000 was presented to CORE at the summit. CORE received an additional $4,000 from the auction that was held, in which Sea Island auctioned off a resort package. The final bidder was Brendan Reilly, CEO of GuestMetrics. Thank you, Brendan, for your continued support of CORE.
Children of Restaurant Employees, or CORE, is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization funded by donations from the food and beverage industry and individual donors. One hundred percent of the funds raised are used towards CORE’s mission of providing support to children and families of restaurant employees who are experiencing or afflicted by life-altering circumstances.
You can visit www.COREgives.org to see what awesome work is being done by Lauren LaViola, executive director for CORE, the hospitality industry board of directors and CORE’s sponsors.