Editorial Board   Guest Author

Mr. Harkey

Justin Harkey

Director of Food & Beverage, First Hospitality Group

Justin Harkey serves as Director of Food and Beverage for First Hospitality Group, where he oversees the execution of all food and beverage operations and strategies, focusing on growth, consistency, and new and emerging food and beverage trends. Mr. Harkey joined FHG in the spring of 2015. A career-long food and beverage operations professional, Mr. Harkey brings more than 15 years of hands-on operations experience in the hospitality industry, where he has consistently demonstrated an ability to drive stronger market share for multiple brands and multi-unit operations. He has achieved successful outcomes for resorts, convention centers, multi-unit properties, and restaurant groups. With his multifaceted experience running both hotels and Food & Beverage operations, he not only understands both sides of the operations equation, he knows the importance of integrating them to optimize sales growth and maximize profit potential. His leadership style is keenly focused on executing and improving both the tangible and intangible offerings of food and beverage programs, products and services. Focusing FHG’s buying power on commodity cost controls and supply chain management efficiencies, Mr. Harkey leverages activities in those areas that generate above-industry returns to FHG’s portfolio properties. Prior to joining FHG, Mr. Harkey served as director of operations and marketing at The Francesca’s Restaurant Group, where he was responsible for overseeing 2,700 associates in an operation that had a national footprint. Prior to that role, he was director of restaurants with Interstate Hotels and Resorts, where he focused on full service properties. Mr. Harkey holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Management and Administration from Western Governors University. Please visit http://www.fhginc.com for more information.

Mr. Harkey can be contacted at 224-257-4000 or jharkey@fhginc.com

Coming up in February 2018...

Social Media: Engagement is Key

There are currently 2.3 billion active users of social media networks and savvy hotel operators have incorporated social media into their marketing mix. There are a few Goliath channels on which one must have a presence (Facebook & Twitter) but there are also several newer upstart channels (Instagram, Snapchat &WeChat, for example) that merit consideration. With its 1.86 billion users, Facebook is a dominant platform where operators can drive brand awareness, facilitate bookings, offer incentives and collect sought-after reviews. Twitter's 284 million users generate 500 million tweets per day, and operators can use its platform for lead generation, building loyalty, and guest interaction. Instagram was originally a small photo-sharing site but it has blown up into a massive photo and video channel. The site can be used to post photos of the hotel property, as well as creating Instagram Stories - personal videos that disappear from the channel after 24 hours. In this regard, Instagram and Snapchat are now in direct competition. WeChat is a Chinese company whose aim is to be the App for Everything - instant messaging, social media, shopping and payment services - all in a single platform. In addition to these channels, blogging continues to be a popular method to establish leadership, enhance reputations, and engage with customers in a direct and personal way. The key to effective use of all social media is to find out where your customers are and then, to the fullest extent possible, engage with them on a personal level. This engagement is what creates a personal connection and sustains brand loyalty. The February Hotel Business Review will explore these issues and examine how some hotels are successfully integrating social media into their operations.