VIBE Conference Schedule Finalized

The schedule for the VIBE Conference is being finalized, and the jam-packed program is certain to keep attendees busy as they moveVIBE from session to session, take notes to improve business and, of course, network with some of the industry’s finest minds.

The learning begins March 13 with the opening keynote address from Peter Sheahan, founder and CEO of ChangeLabs. Sheahan’s keynote, “Moving the Market: Accelerate your impact by influencing how and why buyers make decisions,” will teach attendees buying tips used by some of the world’s most profitable companies. Sheahan also will discuss leveraging the power of social-identity theory to differentiate you from your competitors, as well as discuss how to market your value in different currencies.

Be sure to stick around after Sheahan’s keynote to see the best of the best awarded for their efforts in the VIBE VISTA Operator Awards. Master of Ceremonies Stephen Barth of will present the awards to chain beverage executives for excellence in the following categories: beer, wine, spirits, alcohol-free, responsible beverage alcohol service and best special event or single promotion. The awards field is broken into two segments: chain/multi-concept restaurants and hotel, cruise line and casino operators.

Additionally, special recognition will be given to one individual, educational institution, company or service that has made continual major contributions to excellence in the on-premise beverage industry. Since its inception, Dale DeGroff and T.G.I. Friday’s have been recipients of the VIBE Visionary Award. Who will take home the honor this year? Make sure you’re there to see.

That evening, don’t miss out on “The Art of the Drink,” a welcome reception for VIBE attendees to enjoy libations crafted and served by celebrity mixologists. These bar stars include the likes of Tony Abou-Ganim, Charlotte Voisey, Kathy Casey, Kim Haasarud and more. It’s a must-see event where attendees can mix and mingle while watching some of the country’s top bartenders do their own mixing of drinks and mingling with guests. The event will feature new brands as well as venerable names on the market, offering flavorful cocktails, wines, beers and alcohol-free beverages.

Then, on March 14, Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants President and COO Niki Leondakis will deliver the industry keynote. Leondakis has been a key player in creating and developing Kimpton’s brand, values and culture since her start with the company in 1993. Now, as president and COO, she oversees all operations for the company’s 52 boutique hotels and chef-drive restaurants that are known across the country as must-stop spots.

Later that afternoon, attendees can stop by the closing keynote with Chip Eichelberger, a peak performance, motivation and sales strategist. Through his presentation, “Get Switched On! … The Magic of Mission and Momentum,” Eichelberger will help attendees develop a better attitude and take action in their lives. The turnaround from negative to positive attitudes begins with acknowledging the gap between where you are and where you can be, Eichelberger says. He’ll teach strategies for making positive visions actual realities.

In addition to the keynote sessions, this year’s lineup includes 12 interactive breakout workshops, including four tasting workshops, such as “Classic Cocktails with a Twist” and “The Gastronomic Beer: Selling beer through creative menu linkages in the 21st century.”

Plus, in many of the breakout workshops and other seminars, industry insiders will provide new, original beverage and consumer research exclusively to the VIBE audience, with information from firms such as Next Level Marketing, Technomic and NPD Group.

While you’re enjoying workshops and seminars and hopefully learning practical tips to take back to your business, please remember that the hospitality industry is dedicated to helping others. Through the VIBE Conference, we’d like to help the families of those employees who make your businesses run seamlessly. To accomplish this, there will be an ongoing silent auction to support CORE (Children of Restaurant Employees). CORE, the official charity of VIBE, is a nonprofit organization that helps provide special support to children of restaurant employees.

For more information on the VIBE Conference, visit and keep an eye out for more details in upcoming VIBE e-newsletters. See you there!

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