What’s Hot in Food and Beverage Trends
Attendees of the Food Trends 2023 session on Monday of IAAPA Expo were encouraged to indulge in conversation about the tastiest trends dominating the food and beverage (F&B) space.
Bernie Campbell, vice president of sales for Whirley Drinkworks, hosted the session featuring Nancy Hamlin, corporate senior vice president of in-park resale for Cedar Fair Entertainment Company, and Jon Vigue, vice president & general manager, Wild Adventures Theme Park in Valdosta, Georgia.
Cheers to New Trends
Campbell opened the EDUSession with a discussion on the impact of alcohol on F&B sales, saying it’s driving up revenue “everywhere.” He asks Vigue for his take on this trend, and he responds, “We take a conservative approach in how it’s put in front of guests and distributed in the park.” Because of Herschend Family Entertaiment’s family-oriented culture—which owns Wild Adventures—alcohol is not heavily advertised, but is available to guests.
While acknowledging that alcohol revenue is trending higher, Hamlin understands that guests enjoy themed drinks and sees them as an opportunity to add to Cedar Fair’s experiential offerings. However, she adds that alcohol is still a small part of total park revenue at Cedar Fair.
Another emerging trend is chefs leading park F&B operations. According to Hamlin, many Cedar Fair parks can make quality food guests can order at off-site restaurants, but in order to execute, parks must have the staff to make it happen.
Balancing Quality and Efficiency
Hamlin says her parks want to offer high-quality food, but aim to avoid long waits that prevent guests from experiencing an attraction. “We have high-powered locations like the Grand Pavilion at Cedar Point where we have peak transactions per hour, so we know our potential maximum throughput.”
Many parks are also beginning to consider going cashless, but when Campbell asks attendees how many of their parks are cashless, less than half raise their hands. Vigue relates, saying, “At our South Georgia park, we’re at the bottom of the cashless staircase. But we’re looking at it.”
Hamlin says Cedar Fair tried it in three parks, learning that it was a simple transition. However, parks must have a way for guests to quickly convert their cash and tip their servers.
Vigue advises attendees to ensure they are attending the right restaurant equipment shows, insisting that there have been remarkable advancements. He adds that he is interested in vending machines, as they don’t require staffing.
When Campbell raises the subject of mobile ordering, Vigue notes, “There’s been a shift to guests being unwilling to wait in line. They’re not paying to come to your park to wait in line for drinks and food,” and shares that his park is in the process of implementing mobile ordering. Hamlin says mobile ordering is now a guest expectation, but cautions that parks need to allow for both mobile and in-person ordering.