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 September 2020...

Hotel Group Meetings: Demand vs. Supply

It is a great time for hotel group meetings. It is expected that once again this sector will grow by 5-10% in 2020, partly due to the increasing value of in-person group meetings. Because people now spend so much time in front of their screens, face-to-face interactions have become a more treasured commodity in our modern world. Plus, the use of social media reinforces the value of engagement, discussion, conversation, and networking - all areas where group meetings shine. Despite this rosy outlook, there is a concern that demand for meetings far exceeds the supply of suitable venues and hotels. There are very few "big box" properties with 500-plus rooms and extensive conference facilities being built, and this shortage of inventory could pose a serious challenge for meeting planners. In addition to location concerns, the role of the meeting planner has also evolved significantly. Planners are no longer just meeting coordinators - they are de facto travel agents. Cultural interactions, local dining, experiential travel, and team-building activities are all now a part of their meeting mix. Plus, they have to cater to evolving tastes. Millennials are insisting on healthier venues and activities, and to meet their demands, hotels are making yoga breaks, fresh-pressed juices, plant-based diets, state-of-the-art gyms, and locally-sourced menus available. Millennials are also insisting that meeting venues practice Corporate Social Responsibility, which means upholding sustainable and ethical values; investment in the local community; health and well-being of employees; and general business practices that reflect being good citizens of the planet. Finally, there is a growing trend to merge meetings with other local events, such as music festivals, sporting events, and cultural attractions. The December Hotel Business Review will report on issues relevant to group meetings and will document what some hotels are doing to support this part of their operations.