VIBE Vista Awards Honor Responsible Alcohol Service

VIBE Vista AwardsAt the first VIBE Conference, held March 9-10 in Las Vegas, we celebrated the winners of the VIBE Vista Awards. Continuing our profiles of the winners, we take a look at the winning responsible alcohol service programs. Hooters took home the VIBE Vista Responsible Alcohol Service Award for the Chain Restaurant and Multi-unit Operator segment, while Royal Caribbean International snagged the responsible alcohol service award in the Chain Hotel, Casino and Cruise Line Operator category. Diageo sponsored both categories. Congratulations to each for outstanding commitment to responsibility!

Royal Caribbean International

Traveling to 120 destinations worldwide, Royal Caribbean International knows how to keep guests entertained. But responsible alcohol service and safety also are integral to the brand’s success. Because responsible service is such a high priority, Royal puts the entire fleet staff through an intense training program using promotional menus, ServSafe and incentive programs.

Bob Midyette Royal CaribbeanBob Midyette, director of fleet beverage operations, knows Royal Caribbean’s beverage program must complement its entertainment, such as its Broadway and ice-skating shows. From an experience perspective alone, he says, Royal Caribbean “must be as much or more innovative than our [entertainment], otherwise the experience as a whole suffers.” This includes not only using high quality ingredients, but also hiring and training a competent staff in responsible alcohol service.

The ServSafe Alcohol program, developed by the National Restaurant Association, gives Royal Caribbean the right tools to train on policies that emphasize alcohol laws and responsibilities, evaluating intoxication levels, dealing with difficult situations and checking ID. The Miami-based company requires all new hires to pass a final exam and receive a certificate of completion using ServSafe’s online program, and it is the first cruise line to implement this online training fleetwide.

Royal Caribbean’s highly trained ship management teams are responsible for cultivating and maintaining these programs. Report cards are distributed each month, showing the percentage of training and compliance with ServSafe Alcohol, and because Royal Caribbean uses incentives to keep management on the ships performing at high levels, if a ship fails to be above the 98 percent quota for ServSafe Alcohol compliance, then management doesn’t receive those incentives.

Additionally, Royal Caribbean partners with suppliers and beverage marketing agency MarkeTeam Inc. to develop “Adventurer’s Club,” a specialty drink menu that highlights promotional items with an educational edge, reinforcing the importance of responsible drink service. Plus, a recipe guide enhances server knowledge by including the amount of alcohol in each cocktail and how each drink complies with ServSafe’s parameters, helping servers understand the amount of alcohol in the drinks they’re serving. 

Midyette says this is all part of making Royal Caribbean stand out from its competition. “We have worked to surpass even land-based establishments in a quality-focused and responsible manner,” he says. “That effort and the attention to detail has paid off for us in a major way during the difficult economic times.”

With its meticulous staff training and its concern for guests’ enjoyment and safety, it’s no wonder Royal Caribbean is one of the go-to companies for vacation getaways.

Hooters of America

HootersHooters may be best known for its wings, beer and tank-top clad waitresses, but the 455-location brand now is making a name for itself with its commitment to responsible alcohol service.

Since 1995, this Atlanta-based company has partnered with the National Restaurant Association and ServSafe and has led the way for those programs to evolve. All employees must be ServSafe Alcohol certified upon hire, and every manager is certified as an instructor. There is higher retention because of this commitment to responsible service, the company says, and guests have a better time with knowledgeable servers. This improves awareness, prioritizes server responsibility and reduces alcohol-related incidents system-wide, according to the company.

Hooters routinely helps ServSafe Alcohol update its content, and often members of the Hooters leadership team are featured on ServSafe Alcohol panels, webinars and training session. Additionally, Hooters leaders work closely to lobby states and other regulatory agencies that don’t accept versions of ServSafe Alcohol.

Hooters logoBecause 25 percent of Hooters $1 billion annual revenues comes from alcohol sales, Hooters makes training staff and management in responsible alcohol service a top priority. Additionally, Hooters’ responsible alcohol program is advocated not by a training program, human resources or legal team but by its operations team, which separates it from many other chains. And with these high standards, intense regulations and staff training, Hooters proves its success isn’t just a fluke.

VIBE recognizes chain beverage executives for excellence in corporate beverage programs, professionalism and creativity. The VIBE Vista Awards recognize a company’s excellence within its industry segment, either Chain Restaurant and Multi-Concept Operators or Chain Hotels, Casinos and Cruise Line Operators.

Winners were selected by a panel of beverage professionals against a specific set of criteria spelled out in the Entry Application. For more information, visit Look for ongoing coverage of the winning programs in future issues of VIBE.

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