At 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 wine programs from P.F. Chang’s China Bistro, winner of the VIBE Vista Award for the Chain Restaurant and Multi-unit Operator segment, sponsored by Constellation Wines, and Hyatt Hotels & Resorts, winner in the Chain Hotel, Casino and Cruise Line Operator category, sponsored by E&J Gallo. Congratulations to both!
P.F. Chang’s China Bistro
Headquartered in Scottsdale, Ariz., with 197 restaurants nationally, P.F. Chang’s China Bistro is noted for having one of the most comprehensive wine programs in the country. In fact, its wine selection makes it a standout among Asian concepts. The chain highlights wine flavors and styles rather than focusing on varietals, an approach evident on the wine list, where wines are arranged not by varietals but by titles like “Soft & Tangy” for red wines and “Fruity” or “Floral” for white wines.
Additionally, P.F. Chang’s instituted an intense wine training program for wait staff, bartenders and managers. “For the Love of the Drink” is a two-day seminar that emphasizes not only service and product knowledge but also discusses winemaking, grape growing and production. P.F. Chang’s Director of Beverage Mary Melton says this seminar makes guest experience the number one priority. “We really want to talk about what the experience is going to be for that night,” she explains.
P.F. Chang’s “Build Your Own” wine flight encourages guests to try new flavors by offering a tasting of three different wines. Servers learn about guest preferences and serve similar wines, from lightest- to fullest-bodied, in a wine flight carrier. The 2.5-ounce pours are just enough for guests to discover new varietals. Plus, each wine glass has a tuit attached, a paper disc that lists the wine’s name, to remind guests of their favorite wines for next time.
This attention to detail and the guest-first mentality bolstered sales: P.F. Chang’s saw a 12 percent increase in wine sales, and with the introduction of value pricing and the “Build Your Own” wine flights promotion, guests are more likely to discover new varietals or growing regions. “I really try to have options in the wine selection,” Melton says, “from the varietals, flavor profiles, price points, growing regions — just so when people come in, no matter what kind of experience they’re looking for, they can find something satisfying.”
Hyatt Hotels & Resorts
When guests enter one of Hyatt’s 400 properties worldwide, they’re treated to innovative and authentic service highlighted by the company’s successful wine program. With its Signature Wine List, which involves 24 core wines including 14 by-the-glass offerings, and Highly Recommended Wine List, comprised of 48 approved wines and also labels selected by the specific property, Hyatt offers a wide variety that spans all different price points and taste preferences. Hyatt properties utilize the WineQuest online tool when developing their lists.
Barry Prescott, corporate beverage director, says this is all part of Hyatt’s wine philosophy, which involves maintaining customer loyalty by selecting wines the guest desires and offering those wines at an attractive price point. From mainstream wines to boutique varietals, Hyatt Hotels & Resorts cater each wine list to every guest’s tastes.
“Our objectives for success [demand] consistency for hotels across the brand but also [allow] hotels to add their own selections,” Prescott explains.
Another marker of Hyatt’s success was the 2007 introduction of its exclusive wine label, Canvas, which offers wines for any level of wine drinker, from novice to knowledgeable. Since the introduction of Hyatt’s wine label, company-wide wine sales have improved 45 percent. Wine sales make up 35 percent of Hyatt’s overall beverage sales.
Server training, which involves tastings and educational programs, as well as promotions such as the recent Sip and Dip promotion, which paired wines with tasty appetizers and dipping sauces, keep wine top-of-mind for both service staff and guests.
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 www.vibeconference.com.