Glass Half Full?

When the economy is good, people drink. When it’s not so good, people drink. This is America — we drank during Prohibition, which is proof we like our cocktails, wine and brews no matter what. But while drink sales on-premise are down in 2009, alcohol sales at retail are up, as more folks look to save some cash by imbibing at home. Not so good for our industry. Or is it?

They may have shifted where they drink, but Americans haven’t changed their unquenchable thirst or their desire to socialize, relax and be entertained. Who satisfies that better than us? After exercising restraint for more than a year, I’d wager Americans are itching to get out of the house and back into the bars, clubs and restaurants.

Looking to 2010, when the economy is expected to slowly recover, any venue operator who is not promoting both their drinks and their scene can expect sales to continue on the downward spiral. Why? Because promotions drive sales. Need proof? Just look at our special report on data from GuestMetrics. While the numbers are not great, there are pockets of growth, which GuestMetrics’ Tammy Posten attributes primarily to promotions.

Additionally, the report shows bars and nightclubs are outperforming the rest of the hospitality industry when it comes to drink sales. Again, promotions play a huge role, but so does the fact that patrons find value in the vibe, energy and experience of being in the coolest club or the coziest bar.

To get a jump on what to promote and ways to energize your place in 2010, check out our picks for the trends to tap into next year. We can’t control the economy, but we can control how well we plan and how creative we are in promoting our businesses. As you toast the New Year, it’s really up to you to determine if the glass is half empty or half full.


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