he idea is so obvious, it’s amazing no one has thought of it before: why not put your football season bar menu right on a football?
It’s a compelling idea. For most men and many women who’ve played sports, a ball just lying there is begging to be picked up. It will not be ignored, something one can’t say about most menus, tabletents and other POS promo items.
It’s that inability to be ignored that caught the fancy of Interstate Hotels. Designed to drive premium beverage and food sales in about 40 of the lounges operated inside the chain’s hotels, the football menu is clever in the extreme, planted on tables with a cradling kicking tee.
The idea obviously caught the attention of suppliers as well. Interstate has hooked up with Budweiser, Bud Light, O’Doul’s, Absolut, Finlandia, Stolichnaya, Smirnoff, Beefeater and Major Peters’ Bloody Mary Mixes to support the concept. In return, all the brands are prominently listed on the imitation pigskin menu.
“This is unique for us,” says Chris Dixon, corporate director of food and beverage for the 168-unit Interstate chain. “We wanted to create a food and beverage menu that would spark interest. This is something people just have to pick up when they see it. We think there is an opportunity for our hotel lounges to get more market share, and this is one way to capture that business.”
“People look right through table tents anymore; they’re too generic. They won’t look through these. They’ll pick them up.”
With free-standing restaurants heavily promoting seasonal sports with banners, chalkboards, pennants and contests, this eye-catcher anchors Interstate’s attempt to hold onto guests already staying in their units. And with individual beverage alcohol consumption patterns down, Dixon says the hotel wanted to focus on their updated appetizer offerings as well as premium beverages. So alongside the Bloody Marys and beers, they’ve listed such appetizers as artichoke spinach dip with toasted bagel chips, smoked chicken quesadillas, crispy calamari with lemon and marinara sauce and shrimp with vegetable slaw.
Dixon expects customers to handle the menus, of course, and even take them back home when they check out of the hotel, something that also must satisfy the partnered spirits, beer and mixer companies whose brands are appearing at Paradise Grills, Champs, Cahoots Lounge and other Interstate lounges. The menu program kicked off in mid-August, and while its shelf-life obviously is due to end in late January, Dixon says if the idea catches on, different seasons may bring other menus.
Can March Madness mini-basketballs be far behind? –JR