Some promotions can start out small in focus for certain operators and have such impact they get taken to the next level. What started out as a successful Bay Area-promotion for Gordon Biersch, rapidly expanded to the national level. As an add-on to its “Passport to Hawaii” food promotion in 2009, Gordon Biersch added “Aloha Fridays” to the mix in three Bay-area units, bringing in top Hawaiian entertainment acts Fridays through Sundays and a Hawaiian trip giveaway sponsored by the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau.
The events generated standing-room-only crowds, prompting the chain to take “Aloha Fridays” system wide. Incremental cost of the 2009 promotion was about $5,000 across the three units. Costs covered by the Convention Bureau, were in excess of $100,000, including six sweepstakes winner trips, entertainment expenses (travel and fees), cost of food items flown in from Hawaii and the media campaign. While vice president of marketing Mike Curtis says Gordon Biersch’s top-line sales last year were flat compared with the previous year, “We did not have a loss, which was a swing in the right direction.” Building on its relationship with the HVCB and Coffees of Hawaii, this year’s April-launched Passport to Hawaii promotion will include “Aloha Friday’s” system wide, capped by a sweepstakes for a week-long trip to a Hawaiian coffee plantation on Molokai. Maibock will be the featured beer and a new selection of Hawaiian food specials is being developed.