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 2019...

Hotel Group Meetings: Uncommon Destinations

The last few years have been good to the Hotel Group Meetings industry and that trend is expected to continue into 2019. Planners are brimming with confidence due to an expanding economy and increased job creation, which typically results in a boost in corporate meetings. Given this promising outlook, planners are trying to outdo themselves to satisfy the high expectations of their clients. One notable trend is to integrate unusual settings into the meeting experience, hosting groups at local zoos, aquariums, museums, event centers, or other outdoor facilities. The goal is to embrace uncommon destinations, rather than a typical hotel conference room, so that meetings can be memorable, unique and stimulating. This is also part of another trend which is to support all things local - from hosting events at landmark city venues; to catering through local restaurants, food trucks and microbreweries; to hosting off-site excursions like agri-tours, athletic events or scenic 5k routes. However, though the setting might be spectacular, there are still some bedrock components that must be provided to ensure a successful meeting. Free, high-speed Wi-Fi is still one of the most requested services. Planners have to make sure that a comprehensive communication infrastructure is in place so clients can easily connect - and stay connected - to the network throughout the entire meeting experience. Also, technology tools can be used to streamline the booking, registration, and check-in process, and Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) materials can be utilized to ensure seamless access to conference events. There are also numerous software tools that encourage audience participation, as well as integrating polls, Q&A, surveys and games into speakers' presentations. The September Hotel Business Review will examine issues relevant to group meetings and will report on what some hotels are doing to promote this sector of their operations.