On a hot summer day poolside, customers at the InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) participating locations were treated to Sno Cones. It was all part of a new summer cocktail promotion that featured alcohol-free and “spiked” versions of the popular frozen treat. The program was offered as a national opt-in in the summer months, and individual properties could also continue to run it as long as they wished.
The goal in creating the Sno Cone “was to provide beverage activity around the pool,” says the Atlanta-based Jean-Pierre Etcheberrigaray, vice president of food and beverage, the Americas. “We don’t have a lot of beverage activity around the pool.” The property saw an increase in both poolside cocktail sales as well as fruit-based beverages, although they won’t share specifics. Food and beverage department feedback was positive, and the results were encouraging enough that they plan to run it again this summer.
The program was offered as an opt-in for InterContinental Hotels & Resorts, Crowne Plaza Hotels & Resorts, Holiday Inn Hotels & Resorts and Hotel Indigo locations in the U.S. and Canada. About 50 percent of the hotels participated in the promotion, and each received a complete Sno Cone promotion kit, which included a menu, a Sno Cone machine and Sno Cone Cart featuring each hotel’s brand name, a supply of cups and spoon straws, a Monin starter kit with the five needed flavors and assorted Midori merchandise, such as hats, T-shirts and sunscreen.
The Sno Cone machine creates the chipped ice that is scooped into a coned container, and then the flavorings are added. For the adult drinks, ingredients were mixed in a cocktail shaker and then poured over the shaved ice ball.
When creating a drinks program poolside, it’s important to look for something family friendly.
“Finding something that works as a combo for adult and kids is rare,” says Etchenberrigaray. The Sno Cones did just that. “As a liquid beverage, Sno Cones are really pretty flexible.”
Created in partnership with SKYY Spirits, Monin Gourmet Flavorings and the Coca-Cola Company, the cocktails were a true collaboration of input from all of the partners. Kid-friendly Sno Cone flavors, priced from $2 to $3.50, include lemon coconut, grape, cherry Sprite, tart apple and tangy watermelon. The grown-up Sno Cones menu, $6.50 to $9.50, features Paradise Punch (SKYY Infusions Pineapple Vodka, Midori, Monin Coconut and Minute Maid Lemonade), X-Ceptional Cherry (SKYY Vodka, X-Rated Fusion Liqueur, Monin Cherry and Sprite), Loaded Grape (SKYY Vodka, Monin Wild Grape and Sprite), Apple-Licious (SKYY Vodka, Midori, Monin Granny Smith Apple and sweet and sour) and Melon Fusion (SKYY Infusions Pineapple Vodka, Midori, Monin Watermelon and Minute Made Lemonade). But the options are really endless, as customers are encouraged to ask about additional flavor combinations. The top seller at most locations was the Paradise Punch.
The hot summer lent itself well to the promo, which is why the program was picked up mainly in the warmer climates. “It worked really well in the hotter climates like Atlanta, Miami, Arizona and San Diego,” says Etcheberrigaray. “The real summer hot spots.”
Across the locations, the successful promotion saw a pretty even split between the popularity of the kid and adult options. Though, Etcheberrigaray notes, the children’s Sno Cones were a bigger hit at the Holiday Inn brand and the adult menu was favored at InterContinental locations.
“This was just a teaser to see how it went,” he reveals. “Next summer there will be Sno Cones around all of the pools.”