SAN DIEGO–Over 200 operators from the top 150 chain restaurants, hotels and cruise lines traveled to San Diego to attend the 2016 VIBE Conference Jan. 19 to 20.
Over two days, attendees learned about the latest beverage trends through education workshops, beverage tastings, research sessions and lively networking opportunities.
Before the start of the conference, the official charity of VIBE, Children of Restaurant Employees (CORE) invited operators to its annual “Giving Back to Our Own” party January 18. During the party, guests bid on a variety of prizes available at the nonprofit’s silent auction. Through the event and its partnership with VIBE, CORE raised $203,000 for families in the food and beverage industry facing terminal illnesses or sudden losses.
The next day, Kerry Gumas, president and CEO of Questex LLC, and celebrity mixologist Tony Abou Ganim kicked off the two-day event by welcoming operators to the VIBE Conference inside the Hilton San Diego Bayfront. Following the opening remarks, attendees were treated to an innovative keynote session with former CEO of Southwest Airlines Howard Putnam. During his session, Putnam spoke about innovation and why organizations must embrace originality and risk taking to be successful in today’s industry.
Operators then had access to four workshop series featuring a variety of tastings, research sessions and discussion panels. Top sessions included Palate Trips and Craft Beer Pairing with Brewers Association’s Julia Herz and Adam Duyle, Annual VIBE Beverage Consumer Trend Monitor with Next Level Marketing Founder Mike Ginley, The Luxury Malt Class with author Heather Greene, Crafting a Winning Beer List with Stephen Beaumont of Beaumont Drinks and Satisfying our Thirst for Beverages with NPD Executive Director Warren Solochek. After the sessions, attendees networked at the welcoming cocktail party, while sipping on over 30 delicious craft cocktail recipes prepared by celebrity mixologists.
On Wednesday, Edward Korry, associate professor and department chairman at Johnson and Wales University, and Ganim presented the VIBE Vista Awards to 16 companies for their positive, result-driven corporate beverage programs. Later on, Technomic, Inc Vice President David Henkes and Associate Principal Donna Hood Crecca spoke to operators about factors hampering adult beverage growth and discussed strategies for sparking sales and profits. Crecca was then joined by Ganim to present the VIBE Supplier Awards to 11 companies for their concrete business-building support as well as service and support performance.
The final workshop series concluded with a panel of the VIBE Vista award winners discussing their winning programs with moderator Stan Novack of Sammy’s Bach Bar and Grill.
Closing out the conference, operators attended the Thumbs Up and Thumbs Down session. Presented by David Commer and a panel of beverage executives, speakers weighed in on trends regarding liquor, beer, wine and alcohol-free spirits.