The deceptive thing about change is the nearly imperceptible pace at which it occurs. For example, the products and drinks popular in bars even just five years ago have changed. How much it has changed and in what ways is crucial hard Intel for beverage operators. The products and drinks once popular may no longer be so now. At times these trends can be perceived at the street level, but more often than not they’re so broad in scope that it takes an aerial view to really see what’s going on.
Attaining that enhanced perspective is what the Cheers Beverage Conference is specifically designed to deliver. Presented by Cheers magazine, the recently concluded conference in Miami was no exception. Developed for and attended by beverage professionals, the two-day program was again a vital, dynamic learning experience, quite possibly the most valuable investment I’ll make in my career all year.
In case you missed the event, make sure to take note that the 12th Annual Cheers Beverage Conference will be held in Miami on January 20-21, 2009. Now mind you I’m not being bossy, it’s just a tip from one working stiff to another. I can even give you my reasons why you should attend, but instead I’ve decided to tackle answering the “Five Most Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) About the Cheers Beverage Conference.”
Question: “Is it really true that the conference contains no calories, carbs, and hydrogenated corn syrup?” Bill H., Yonkers, NY
Answer: That’s a great question. I checked with Cheers VP Charlie Forman and he walked me through the reams of scientific research that conclusively shows the renowned industry event is not only devoid of calories, carbs, and hydrogenated corn syrup, but it’s also free of time-robbing, self-serving, sales-oriented programs, and seminars on elementary subjects aimed at entry level employees. To the contrary, the Cheers Beverage Conference presented attendees with an agenda that included 19 graduate level seminars on such topics as liquor liability, drink menu development, beer and food pairings, wine and food pairings, and alcohol-free beverage programs.
Even better, the programs were as always taught by working beverage professionals, respected heavyweights like Tony Abou-Ganim, Patrick Henry, Evan Goldstein, Stephen Barth, Doug Frost, Stephen Beaumont, Lew Bryson and Tim Johnson. These are serious folks who know their material because they live the subject matter.
Q.) “Are there any safety concerns regarding children under the age of 5?” Bill H., Yonkers, NY
A.) Bill, good question. Among the many benefits of the Conference is the emphasis placed on providing attendees with cutting edge, up-to-the-minute market information. Several of the sessions covered the findings of consumer research conducted exclusively for Cheers magazine. The comprehensive marketing studies revealed a great deal about current drinking trends and consumer preferences. While not appropriate for a 5-year old, it provided crystal clear insights into the needs, wants and desires of the American consumer, exactly the type of hard Intel that can turn the tide. If indeed knowledge is power, I now consider myself well armed.
Q.) “Wasn’t there something on ’60 Minutes’ about the FAA restricting travel to the Cheers Conference?” Bill H., Yonkers, NY
A.) Another spot-on query, Bill. I may have missed that program because I was listening to keynoter Craig Miller, CEO of Ruth’s Chris Steak House, speak about his observations and impressions of the current marketplace. When one of the acknowledged Captains of our industry, a veteran with 36-years of hands-on experience, is willing to share his insights, I’m not only going to show up, I’m taking notes.
Q.) “Does the conference accommodate vegetarians?” Bill H., Yonkers, NY
A.) Okay, yes it does. Not only were there a number of vegetarian offerings at the event’s sponsored lunches, but each evening there was an extravagant cocktail party at which was served plenty of vegetarian spirits and meatless cocktails. Even better, the drinks were created and prepared by many of the mixology’s best and brightest, the likes of Tony Abou-Ganim, Julie Reiner, Francesco Lafranconi, Ryan Magarian, Adam Seger and Duggan McDonnell, to name but a few. What an unrivaled treat.
Q.) “Is this the same product I’ve seen advertised on TV? If so, how much does it cost?” Bill H., Yonkers, NY
A.) Your question brings to mind the last of the singular benefits of the conference, namely the ability to every year rub elbows and exchange notes with the country’s finest beverage operators. It’s an invaluable opportunity to kibitz, network and get others’ takes on what’s happening and what’s not.
I hope I’ve shed some light on why the Cheers Beverage Conference is a “can’t miss” event. Did I mention that it’s vitamin-enriched, and guaranteed to whiten your teeth five shades lighter in just 10 days? What a deal.