Red Lion Likes Alcohol-FreeAugust 5, 2013 By: Jack Robertiello
We’ve been banging on this drum for years: adults seeking a flavorful alcohol-free beverage get very little respect in restaurants today.
But the Red Lion Hotels, 36 units located primarily in the Northeast US, decided to change that around last year, and the success of their program is one reason why the hotel operator took home the Vibe VISTA Award earlier this year for Best Hotel Adult Alcohol-Free Beverage Program.
Called “Roaring Refreshers,” the drinks were the cornerstone of a program the operators developed as an innovative non-alcoholic beverage program to provide customers with profitable options beyond the usual tea, coffee and soda.
To do so, the hotels started focusing on tea and lemonade recipes made with fresh fruit and Finest Call mixers. The program features a signature 20 oz. “Roaring Refresher” tumbler that guests can purchase and take home as a souvenir. Recipes are sharable through the QR tag at the point of sale materials, including menu inserts and lobby posters.
The drinks - Mango Orange Iced Tea (made with Finest Call Mango Purée, orange juice and freshly brewed iced tea), Strawberry Pomegranate Lemonade (Finest Call Pomegranate and lemonade muddled with fresh strawberries), and the Peach Arnold Palmer (Finest Call Peach Purée, lemonade and freshly brewed iced tea muddled with fresh mint) – found favor not only due to the hit of flavor given to old favorites, but also the serving size, signaling a high quaffability factor.
Menus used high quality graphics to create the sale, and posters placed in lobby or in front of the lounge of participating units built awareness. The results of the roll-out was increased non-alcoholic beverage sales overall.
Execution is always difficult in new chain programs, so manuals were created for the program, including pricing, recipes, proper drink making techniques and steps of service. Detailed information on how to use each POS item including where items are to be placed or displayed is outlined in the manuals.
Building a new program from scratch always involves challenges, and even the smallest steps need to be designed, priced and evaluated in light of service and operational issues. It’s that awareness that programs need support and promotion, no matter how tasty the item that helped create the program’s success, and is part of the reason Red Lion took home the Vista Award this year.