Let's Make This the Roaring 2020s

Image: Igisheva Maria / Shutterstock

One hundred years ago, America found itself ebullient and optimistic. So much so that they described an entire decade as “roaring.”

Today, we in the hospitality industry are well positioned to transform this decade into the Roaring 2020s.

In the 1920s, many Americans rejected the established "norms” of society—including rebelling against prohibition—made their own ways, pursued and indulged in luxury, and marveled at technological innovations.

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A century later, there are certainly some parallels to be found with that freewheeling decade. (Of course, we've made many societal, cultural and legal improvements over the 1920s.)

Today, according to several studies, Americans are rejecting the prohibition of cannabis. Generations that once perceived cannabis usage as shameful or criminal are shifting that perception, at least as far as the benefits of CBD.

We’re drinking better, perhaps consuming less drinks in a single visit to a bar or restaurant but willing to spend more on premium and luxury spirits. For some, drinking better means zero-proof cocktails. The rise in popularity and demand for alcohol alternatives shares something in common with American attitudes in the 1920s: We want what we want, and we will have it.

And then, of course, we have the type of bar most closely associated with the 1920s. Prohibition gave rise to the speakeasy, and the allure of “secret” bars, restaurants and nightclubs has stuck with Americans ever since. Some of the most famous and awarded cocktail bars of the past few years have been speakeasies, even if their locations aren’t all that secret.

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The internet and social media have essentially made it impossible to keep a speakeasy hidden for long. As cool as it would be to run a truly secret bar, the need for marketing makes that difficult, and people are never without their internet-connected devices. However, creative design and branding can provide guests with personalized, immersive experiences they associate with speakeasies. The Barbershop inside The Cosmopolitan and The Butchershop inside the Irvine Marriott are excellent examples of what the Roaring 2020s versions can be.

Our desire to discover the next big thing in technology is similar to the hunger Americans had for innovation in the 1920s. This goes far beyond the phones in our pockets. Technology has altered the hospitality industry and will only continue to do so, giving the public entirely new ways to engage with bars, restaurants, nightclubs, hotels, etc.

In fact, we’ll be introducing Nightclub & Bar Show 2020 attendees to 40 hospitality industry-focused tech startups. Our industry has been behind the times in terms of developing easily integrated, purpose-built hardware and software. That ends in the Roaring 2020s, starting with the NxT Pavilion on the expo floor at the 35th anniversary Nightclub & Bar Show in March.

The automobile played a major role in the Roaring Twenties, and it will continue to do so in the Roaring 2020s. Not only are automotive companies determined to further develop electric and self-driving vehicles, rideshare services continue to make evenings out safer for operators, their team members, their guests, and the public at large. And when guests know they can get home safely, the odds improve that they’ll order that extra drink (or drinks), boosting sales.

It’s perhaps that last element of the Roaring 2020s that encapsulates what operators and their teams should focus on moving forward. Bars and restaurants are supposed to be venues that provide a respite from the stresses of everyday life.

Part of hospitality is making every guest feel welcome, delivering the highest level of service so that they can, if only for a few moments, feel happy, optimistic and safe. We’re told every day that Americans are more divided than ever. Operators and their teams can help turn that sentiment on its head today.

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Our industry is one of diversity, inclusion, and hospitality—all are welcome. We can help bring people together to celebrate the Roaring 2020s. Let’s get after it!

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