Skip to main content

Where JonTaffer might be right - and where he might be wrong

I found this great interview on - in which Jon Taffer is interviewed. He is the host and expert of Bar Rescue [if you are one bar industry professional who didn't watched few episodes - shame on you].
Jon Taffer could be called also "very opinionated" - right on my alley...  however due to his brand involvement and definitely also his age, I do have often the feeling, that he is all the time a couple of steps behind real cutting edge trends and ideas.
Anyway - a lot of wisdom isn't "aging" at all, and I definitely don't want to take any credit, which Taffer deserves....

  • Lighting innovations and LED technology...
    • Yes - Taffer is definitely right, that this changed a lot. 
    • Is it a cutting edge trend though? Nope - we do have LED's already quite long, and there is not much more, which really caught mainstream, which is very innovative.
    • Maybe the problem of this is: the price! B2B companies, which offering (sometime questionable) innovations to the bar industry thinks, that our industry is a cash cow - and charge accordingly. That though will lead to a very slow adoption rate.
    • The innovation which I do see here is definitely on bar level, that long-lasting and energy-saving LED-Edison bulbs will become widespread. They very much look like an Edison light bulb, but don't have any of the disadvantages [but the price]. Even more creative lighting will be possible on "bulb-level"
    • Though illuminated liquor bottles cannot be seen as trend 
      • first, the mentioned millennials are environmental conscious - and nobody can tell me, that a throwaway illuminated liquor bottle is great on a dump site! 
      • Second: there are few tasteful use of this technology [not one I can think off now].
  • Entertainment innovations
    • Yes, he is right - there is a great trend to do virtual jukeboxes and similar application. Still, these steps are not bold and fast enough.
  • The innovation / technology coming between guest and server
    • This is a typical tech-critics argument - and I don't agree, that there is the risk at all. Technology is giving the bar / nightclub operator to make ordering more efficient and gives the staff more time to interact with the guest!
    • Jon also didn't mentioned the opportunity of apps, which could enrich the experience of bars, can be used for efficient direct-marketing tool, can even improve social interaction of guests to guests.
    • He might be right, that ordering technology is a two sided sword - however again, it depends on the specific type of venue. Later he is underlining the success of fast casual outlets, and this technology is perfectly suited towards these type of outlets!
  • Success of fast casuals and the "struggles" of fast food companies.
    • This has very little to do with the bar industry, but he pictures a completely distorted picture. Sometimes you cannot just focus on growth - you have to also look at overall size of a company and revenue. Yeah - McDonald's sales are stagnating- and other fast food companies' financial trends are also no more set "on optimistic growth"- but what is the volume of McDonald's? I guess MickyD alone produces more revenue, than all fast casual changes together? McD's revenue in 2014 was 27.44 billion US. This is $27,440,000,000.00!!! Chipotle, by far the biggest and most successful fast casual chain, did in 2014 4,11 billion revenue.
    • Yes - Jon is right, when it comes to trends. But we are talking about the an high12 to low13 figure industry compared to a low10 figure industry - go figure!
    • Taffer is right, that Fast Casual didn't really tapped into the beverage sales. Is there an opportunity? Not sure... as fast casual is closer to fast food, than to casual dining, it might never really happen.
  • And then Jon Taffer's view on Big Brands doing niche [craft] products...
    • I don't agree, that most big brands are innovative. It seems that their accountants analyse the market, and only approve products, when the trend already proofed, that this product category will be successful. And usually these big producers still cut corners, when it comes to sheer quality [as they have cost and consistency far more in their focus as niche producers].
    • Flavored whiskey? First of all, most products are liqueurs and cannot even be called whisk(e)y at all! Second - innovation is sometimes dangerous for the core expertise and overall reputation. Yes flavored products brings people to whiskey, but then if the palate mature, they certainly stay not with the brands. Basically it is a very shortsighted move of the liquor companies, to make the fast buck - but they will harm their customer base for premium products in the future.
      • Further it shows in different other markets [rum, tequila] that flavored products are not exactly grow consistently. Obviously they grow strong in the early times of the trend, just because there is low supply. But later on the curve flattens fast.

My proof, that not only Jon Taffer but our whole industry is still 5 steps behind current trends, is underlined, by the things which Taffer didn't mentioned:
  • Apps, apps, apps: the adaption of using mobile apps in our industry is almost non existent - and if companies are using apps, it is very conservative. There is a huge opportunity.
  • Location services [again apps]: There are already apps out, which are adapting location API's - however we as service industry supposed to spearhead these developments! This is the direct marketing tool of the future! 
  • Augmented reality [more apps]: the revitalized trend of augmented reality was shown by the 2015 Microsoft Keynote, where they presented their HoloLens - this was the next "logical" step of products like GoogleGlass and similar products. However augmented reality can be used without clunky headware already with our smartphones. It could give our guests the opportunity to "browse" our liquor shelves and check out the stories of brands... can give amazing insights of stories of our bars and can even connect to others.
  • Facial recognition: I believe this is one of the biggest opportunities in hospitality. Luxury hotel brands know, that calling a guest by name, is the holy grail of customer engagement - still we are struggling with our limitations of our brain [except of those, who have a photographic memory - which are considerable less in our industry...]. Technology could help us - and I prospect, that the first hospitality company, which successfully integrate this technology, will rule the market in the next decade!
  • Connectivity and internet of things: We all know, how difficult it can be, to have a bar full of individuals - some people, think, that the light is too bright, at the same time, some people, complain that the tables are too area is too dim, some complain, that the music is too loud, some do, that the music is not loud enough, some say, that it is too warm, some say, that it is too drafty. "the internet of things" could change that with an app. Think, that the bar operator could set things into certain limits, but the guests can change the variables within these limits. This off course need a completely new venue infrastructure [depending on how far the venue goes]. But it has immense opportunity!
  • New amenities - I am often surprised, that hospitality didn't adapted yet to the current "basic" needs of our guests. Let's face it, most of our guests have a smartphone - and a smartphone runs out of battery in no time. Having a armchair or table with a built in USB port to charge seems logical - a table could even include a simple mobile holder - which would make also a bit space on the table.


Popular posts from this blog

How to use citric acid - and why you might not want to use it anyway!

To be honest, I shied away of this topic, because I think, people can misinterpret this - big time. I don't want to be part of the problem - I want to be part of the solution!  But when Chris, over at A Bar Above  discussed this subject- I literally could not resist to join into "the discussion". Here is the video: I - however take a bit slower approach than Chris. What is citric acid? Chemical Compound Citric acid is a weak organic acid with the formula C6H8O7. It is a natural preservative/conservative and is also used to add an acidic or sour taste to foods and drinks. Wikipedia Formula: C6H8O7 Molar Mass: 192.124 g/mol Melting Point: 153C Density: 1.66 g/cm3 Boiling point: 175C Soluble in: Water Why is it controversial? In my "mixology world" it is controversial, as citric acid is the stuff, which makes the nightmarish sour mix [ preferably in powder form ] sour. Yeah - citric acid is the main ingredient in one of the most

Agar-Agar Clarification

Not often, I am posting here things, which are clearly not my ideas... However Dave Arnold is clearly a mad scientist [no, he really is!] - and he posted amazing stuff on his website - no - don't click now - just follow the link later. One of the most impressive posts about mixology, besides of demystifying the mechanics of shaking, were clarification techniques. Look, after him, you could use a centrifuge [which would set you back a couple thousand bucks] and a chemical compound, which solidifies sediments. I am not a fan of that. Then there is gelatine clarification; this works quite well [I tried it several times my self] - you gelatinize a liquid [with little gelatine only], freeze it, thaw it [in the fridge] over a colander and a muslin cloth. Thats it. Unfortunately this has several problems: Gelatine is made out of animal bones - hence it is neither vegetarian nor vegan, which you won't usually expect of a beverage. You have to freez

King Robert II Vodka

Who would knew, that I am reviewing a budget vodka here - on the But this isn't a normal review. I skip the marketing perception and use this product to cut directly to the case: Vodka is a "rather" neutral, colorless, "rather" flavorless and odorless distilled beverage from any agricultural source - and depending on the country, it has a minimum of 37.5% and 40% abv. As I said time and time again before: at times it is absolutely nonsense to talk about premium and luxury, when the original product doesn't really "hold this promise". Luxury water can have luxurious marketing, luxurious packaging, can be even rare and slightly more expensive "to produce". However really it is just water. Maybe it has some nuances to normal water - however those nuances (in a blind-test) are pretty small. Vodka is extremely similar - and the chain of evidence (despite a lot of people trying to proof otherwise) makes it re