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restaurant marketing

The Rocking Food

The Rocking Food

I’m still winding down from the delicious, busy, and exciting long weekend that is the yearly South Beach Wine & Food Festival down in Miami. This was my fourth year heading down with the Connect Group and Chef Marc Forgione and over the years I’ve been to many events that range in theme and offerings. But the overall format of these events is generally the same: walk-around tastings with 30-40 different chefs/restaurants or a sit down dinner with multiple courses.

This year The Connect Group had the pleasure of activating King’s Hawaiian sponsorship events during SOBEWFF which included The Art of Tiki on Friday night and Bacardi on the Beach with Beats by Rev Run & DJ Ruckus. Now, I’m not knocking the standard food festival events, they do a great job of marketing the chefs/restaurants and promoting their sponsors. And obviously people love attending them! But as with most things, the more different and unique an event is, the more it stands out.

At first, Bacardi on the Beach seemed like it would be like one of the standard walk-around food festival events. After an hour or so though, it became apparent that this was more of a standout event. It wasn’t just that the crowd was younger and more diverse than the other tentpole events. What made this event truly stand out was that the star wasn’t the food. The music was.

Bacardi on the Beach was a music event that happened to have food. And that doesn’t mean the food wasn’t important. If anything, I would say that the focus on the music enhanced the food even more. I find that at a lot of the tasting events, eating can seem like less of an enjoyable experience and more of a sport as some people are determined to run around and try as many dishes as possible. Sometimes it can even get ugly. I was once elbowed in the face by an older woman for a dumpling, no joke. At Bacardi on the Beach, people were dancing and singing and having a great time. I know it might be a stretch to say this but I truly think the dancing and working up a sweat and overall fun/light mood made people really enjoy what they were eating.

This wasn’t the first time I’ve been to a non-food festival with a heavy emphasis on food. Now in it’s seventh year, Governor’s Ball is a 3-day music festival that takes place on Randall’s Island. The food definitely isn’t an afterthought at Gov Ball. It gets it’s own “lineup” and the vendors are all curated by popular food website The Infatuation. A couple of years ago I also had the chance to go to Life is Beautiful, a 3-day art and music festival in Downtown Las Vegas. Life is Beautiful takes a different approach to food and actually makes the chefs part of their programming with a dedicated cooking demo stage and chef-hosted elevated food stations in the VIP areas.

Though food at music festivals isn’t a new thing, I’m always looking at new and exciting ways to combine food with lifestyle events or re-invent the typical food festival experience. Sometimes I think we forget that it doesn’t always have to be JUST about the food as there are lots of ways to inject a memorable food experience into other fun activities.

- Cassie

Pokémon Go: Staying Ahead of the Game

Pokémon Go: Staying Ahead of the Game

As a child of the 90s, and the token Millennial here at The Connect Group, I can appreciate the recent uproar that has been surrounding Pokémon Go. Pokémon Go, a mobile game that has already surpassed Tinder in daily active users, and is on the heels of popular apps like SnapChat and Google Maps, uses augmented reality to take over actual reality. Not only has Pokémon Go taken over the gaming world, but it has also had major effects on restaurants and small business all around the world by allowing them to gain revenue and draw in customers through Pokémon Go incentives.

First, I should explain how this game works. The main, and really only point of Pokémon Go, is to “Catch 'Em All.” All over the world there are “PokéStops” placed at different landmarks, which allow people to not only collect important items in the game, but also collect rare Pokémon. People travel far and wide to find these stops in hopes of catching as many Pokémon as possible. Another essential part of the game is using “lures.”  Lures attract wild Pokémon to PokéStops, and simultaneously seem to be attracting customers to restaurants. Restaurant owners all over have been spending real money to purchase lures in hopes that they will incentivize Pokémon Go players to come in, catch Pokémon, and ultimately sit down to eat at their restaurant, café, or bar.

According the New York Post, a New York pizzeria called L’inizio Pizza Bar saw sales sky rocket  75 percent after the GM spent just $10 to have a dozen Pokémon lured to the location.         And, L'inizio isn't the only restaurant reporting this kind of sales increase after jumping on the Pokémon Go train. It may seem a little ridiculous that businesses would spend real money to attract fake Pokémon, but those who have decided to embrace the trend are not regretting it. 

As Michael Koziol, president of Huge Café expressed to Bon Appetit, “We eagerly await the lunch rush, when a gaggle of workers from the 13th floor of the bank across the street will drop by, catch some Pokémon at the café, and probably leave with a few extra coffees and pastries.”

Because of its innovative use of augmented reality, Pokémon Go is not a movement I see dying down anytime soon so rather than getting frustrated with the hundreds of obsessed players who are glued to their phones trying to catch ‘em all, restaurants and small business might as well embrace the little monsters, start thinking creatively and come up with the best ways to take advantage of this latest craze and stay ahead of the game. 

Posted by Kate Moelis