Best Chain Wine Program
Starwood Hotels & Resorts recognized the social aspect behind sharing great wine and made it the central focus of its Sheraton brand’s Sheraton Selects & Social Hour program. In addition to generating higher wine sales, the program aims to draw guests into hotel lobby bars and get them engaged with the bartender and with each other, all while enjoying quality wines that they may not otherwise be familiar with.
“From an operational standpoint, the program was designed to generate incremental F&B profits and support the Sheraton brand positioning as ‘The World’s Gathering Place,’” says Allison Glassman, Starwood’s North America food & beverage manager. “We believe the program will enhance consumer sentiment and communicate the notion that Sheraton is an intelligent, fun, and social brand.”
Introduced in May 2012 at 140 Sheraton locations, the Sheraton Selects menu was created to promote highly rated wines in the hotel’s lobby lounges. Each menu offers eight wines by the glass; wine selections rotate based on location and availability. “Each Sheraton location is encouraged to tailor the menu as much as possible to its region and clientele,” says Kristen Gridley, senior account manager with iMi Agency, which assisted Starwood with this campaign.
The Sheraton Social Hour meets the same requirements as the Sheraton Selects menu. The event is hosted a minimum of three times per week, for one to three hours in the evening. Social interaction is the main goal here: to create a memorable Sheraton wine experience for guests.
TRAINING AND PROMOTIONAL SUPPORT
Wine education is part of the experience as well. All lobby bar service staff and managers completed a wine training and certification process prior to implementation of the program. “We created an online training video that was posted to the Starwood intranet,” Glassman says. “The training video covered steps of service for wine presentation and presentation/explanation of the 2-oz. tastings; education around bottled water and how the clean taste of the water affects the way the wine tastes; and basic wine education.”
In addition to publicizing the Social Hour through traditional print advertising, Sheraton embraced social media and encouraged guests to share their experiences on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. All table tents, pop-up banners, and guest room key cards had social media elements printed on them, including Twitter hashtags and Facebook/Instagram icons. The Social Hour was also widely promoted on the Sheraton brand Facebook page, along with each participating location’s individual Fecebook page.
During the pilot program, participating Sheratons saw average daily wine by-the-glass and by-the-bottle revenue increase by $6,000-plus each week, for an overall increase of 38.3% compared to the same time period prior to implementation. Participating hotels continue to see significant sales increases focused around Sheraton Social Hour, which is now a permanent part of the Sheraton culture.
Sheraton Hotels & Resorts
Based: Stamford, CT
Number of units: More than 400 hotels
Parent company: Starwood Hotels & Resorts