Penn Gaming, a national casino and racing operator, has one of the nation’s largest regional gaming footprints. It welcomes more than 20 million guests annually at its 44 properties across 20 states.
The company recently revamped its beverage program with a focus on building value and loyalty through customer experience. While the program went through a multitude of changes, the pandemic didn’t seem to affect the company’s choices. What’s more, Penn Gaming took the award for best Multi-concept Entertainment Beverage Program.
“We approached the selection and introduction of products as if there was no pandemic,” says Sean Malone, vice president of hospitality. “Guest preferences are still what they are, despite any potential product shortages. Thankfully, our partners were terrific and rose to the occasion. While there may have been some bumps along the way, they have been short lived so far, and relatively non-impactful.”
Penn’s overall beverage program supports its diverse food and beverage outlets, ranging from the pub grub at Barstool Sportsbook to the fine dining at Final Cut Steakhouse. Every category was updated to reflect a diverse range of customer desires.
The company provided each venue with a listing table that designated which brands they could use for each spirit quality category — casino floor, well, call, and premium. The program also incorporates a discretionary category with more exotic or premium brands that venues can order from.
The national beverage program provides a list of wine by-the-glass options broken down by price point, ranging from 1 to 5. Penn’s fine dining locations have the option to select wines from deeper portfolios of key wine partners: Constellation Brands, Jackson Family Wines, Rodney Strong, Ste. Michelle Wine Estates and Trinchero Family Estates.
The beer program includes 12 domestic brands, 16 imported, 22 national craft, five regional craft and four non-alcoholic brands. Venues can also pick from seven “beyond beer” hard seltzer and cider options.
Mixers have also been designated through the national beverage program helping to ensure consistent flavors in recipes and maximize brand partner relationships.
This flexibility and creativity helped Penn Gaming shine as things returned to normal following an extended period of lockdowns. In the interim, Penn Gaming worked with marketing partner MarkeTeam to create more than 80 unique menus and developed promotions and events centered around holidays such as Cinco de Mayo, Oktoberfest and Halloween, and sporting events such as March Madness, Kentucky Derby and NHL season.
Locations received a Program Execution Guide (PEG), explaining the promotion, including when, where, and how it could be implemented. The PEG also included available signage (menus, table tents, posters, banners), merchandise, give-aways, and digital content (digital signage and social media) local managers could order.
Penn Gaming’s national beverage program now includes comprehensive training for responsible service and promoting responsible consumption. The company standardized the use of jiggers across locations to reduce costs by minimizing waste and lower pour costs. This also helped to ensure consistent flavor profiles.
These efforts have paid off: Penn Gaming says the national beverage program has prompted strong growth in revenue, showing an increase of $41M, from $87M to $129M (48% increase vs. 2020). 2019 beverage revenue represented 33% of total food and beverage revenue. After implementing the national program, beverage revenue in 2021 increased to account for 40% of overall revenue.