Four members of Oregon’s foodservice and lodging industry have been selected for the statewide 2018 Hospitality Industry Awards as announced by Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association (ORLA). Dave Thomason (Thomason Hospitality Group LLC, Grants Pass) was named Restaurateur of the Year; Doug and Becky Neuman (Neuman Hotel Group, Ashland) were named Lodging Operators of the Year; Kaarina Vera (Seaside Lodging LLC, Seaside) was named Employee of the Year, and Karnopp Peterson LLP (Bend) was named Allied Partner of the Year.
The recipients of these awards will be recognized among their peers and over 300 delegates of ORLA’s Convention during the Hospitality Industry Awards Dinner on September 30, 2018, at the Embassy Suites by Hilton Portland – Washington Square, in Tigard, Oregon.
“Oregon’s hospitality industry is teeming with individuals who contribute significantly to the health of the trade,” says Jason Brandt, president and CEO of the Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association. “These winners represent not only some of our industry’s most dedicated leaders and advocates, but also the exemplary service that sets the high standard for the entire industry to achieve.”
Restaurateur of the Year: At 16, Dave Thomason started in the restaurant industry working as a busboy for the Carl’s Jr. chain in Anaheim, CA, and now has his own company overseeing 44 operations with a total workforce of over 600 employees. He has also been a very strong advocate of the industry having served 18 years as an ORLA Board Member and is a Past President of the Association. Through Dave’s leadership, experience and passion for hospitality, Thomason Hospitality Group has realized tremendous growth in recent years with no signs of slowing down. Taprock Northwest Grill opened for business in May 2009 and has been the centerpiece of Thomason Hospitality Group’s portfolio which also includes holdings throughout the state of Oregon for Elmer’s, Pita Pits, Human Beans, and Purple Parrots. Success isn’t all about growth and profits however. Dave believes their employees are their best asset and the greatest advantage over their competitors. He maintains that treating employees with respect values their individuality and empowers them to provide great service.
Lodging Operators of the Year: In less than two decades Doug and Becky Neuman have transformed Southern Oregon’s hospitality scene. It all started as a real estate investment when they purchased the dilapidated Ashland Springs Hotel in late 1998 and “brought it back to its glory.” Their passion for Oregon led them to expand investments, and now Neuman Hotel Group’s portfolio includes four hotels, three restaurants, tow spas and soon a Victorian home. The Neuman’s impact on Southern Oregon goes beyond economic development and job creation, they filled a need in the community by revitalizing properties that celebrate what Oregon has to offer. More importantly, they have created an incredibly supportive work environment for close to 350 employees, investing in training and benefits that attract and retain a staff that love what they do.
Employee of the Year: From front desk agent to manager, Kaarina Vera has proven that hard work, along with insight and being a quick learner can reward you with greater opportunities. When Seaside Lodging acquired ownership of the property where Kaarina was working the front desk less than a decade ago, they quickly saw her potential and transferred her to sales. Shortly after, she was promoted to Sales Manager for the Inn at Seaside – a strategic move for the Inn, as she helped double the sales. Kaarina’s exceptional performance directly contributed to the growth of the company which now includes four hotels. In her current position of Sales, Marketing and Revenue Manager for Seaside Lodging LLC, Kaarina continues to shine as one of the most “honest, ethical, sincere and efficient” staff members the company is proud to employ.
Allied Partner of the Year: Karnopp Petersen, a law firm in Bend, Oregon, operates with a simple philosophy, “do your best work and give back.” For Karnopp Petersen, it’s not just about resolving disputes or winning litigation; they want to be a “value creator” for their clients by designing legal strategies that truly fit their clients’ needs, thereby giving them the best chance at achieving their goals. ORLA saw the value in this approach firsthand with a recent lawsuit regarding local lodging taxes. “The lodging industry in Oregon was in need of a law firm that could prevail in our pursuit of lodging tax protections. Karnopp Petersen has and continues to be one of ORLA’s most crucial partners in establishing the appropriate ways lodging taxes should be spent in Oregon,” said Jason Brandt, President & CEO, Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association. “We’re more than pleased with the service they’re able to provide.”
For more information on the Hospitality Industry Awards, visit OregonRLA.org/Awards or ORLA’s Convention, visit OregonRLA.org/Convention or call 800.462.0619. For press inquiries regarding the Hospitality Industry Awards, please contact Lori Little, director of communications, at 503.682.4422.
By Michael Davis
The Inside Scoop on Modern Marketing Trends: Understanding Your Customer's Quest for Perfection
Before delivering the Monday morning keynote address at the 2017 ORLA convention, Ben Powers positioned a virtual reality camera about 10 feet from the stage. Doing so allowed the staff at Visiting Media, the futuristic company Powers leads in Portland, to remotely monitor the breakfast proceedings in Bend. They did it in a way that makes the standard video conference seem positively quaint.
The keynote webcast provided a 360-degree, 4K, immersive experience for viewers 165 miles away. All they missed were the cinnamon buns. In his 45-minute talk, Powers provided dazzling visual evidence of the persuasiveness that advanced digital media holds to inform potential customers. The new tools include virtual reality, 360-degree photography, 3D modeling and TrueTour Technology, a one-stop visual hub and dashboard developed by Visiting Media. The system has the potential to exponentially increase digital outreach to dining and lodging consumers.
Powers is bullish on virtual reality's potential to transform hospitality industry marketing. Within 10 years, he says, VR will be the vehicle of choice to plunge potential customers into an active exploration of restaurants and lodging choices. From examples he shared from the stage, VR can be the difference between merely looking for a place to stay to feeling transported a destination for an up-close examination -- up, down, around, and behind.
At Visiting Media, the future is now. The company is already providing immersive experiences for clients in the Northwest and beyond. While traditional media remains vital, Powers says, a wave of change beckons companies striving to reach consumers fixated on their screens for guidance. Powers hardly needed to remind attendees that contemporary media consumers are voracious and impatient. "Waiting is a thing of the past," he said. Even a momentary loss of Internet signal can seem like a major annoyance to potential customer in search of an answer.
Just as the marketing world rapidly adopted smart phones, image sharing and texting, so too will VR become embraced and normalized. To that end, Jason Brandt, ORLA's president and CEO, described a goal to make Oregon the national leader in immersive marketing for the leisure traveler. To get there, Visiting Media and ORLA have collaborated on a strategy to get ahead of the curve and stay ahead. "We have to be first in line with immersion experiences," Brandt said.
Donate, Don't Waste: Steps to a Successful Food Donation Program
Any restaurant owner wishing to institute a program to donate wasted food needs to understand it will take substantial effort to launch and sustain it. But the rewards for investing in greater food security for a community could far outweigh the initial and ongoing costs in dollars and time. That was the message delivered by Allison Condra and Ben Edel, panelists for a frank and forthright breakout session on day two of the 2017 ORLA Convention. It was titled "Donate, Don't Waste: Steps to a Successful Food Donation Program."
Condra, an Portland attorney, is an expert in the laws regarding the safe donation of food to non-profit organizations. Edel is the newly installed restaurant manager at the convention's host hotel and convention center, Riverhouse on the Deschutes. Changes and federal and state law protect restaurants, hotels, motels caterers from liability, Condra said, adding that there are tax incentives for doing so. But she warned, "Gross negligence is not protected. Donors must inspect the food to make certain it is wholesome."
Riverhouse recently made an agreement with Bethlehem Inn, a well-regarded non-profit in Bend, to deliver regular shipments of food that would otherwise have been wasted. Often, the chef will take such ingredients to create special meals for donation. "He made a meatloaf the other day that I wanted to eat," Edel said.
To comply with food safety standards, Riverhouse had to invest in portable bins and coolers for the donations and come up with a reliable delivery system. "We didn't budget for it," Edel said. "We have been dealing with the realities as they come along. I'd say it has taken a couple of thousand dollars to get up and running. And that's not counting the extra labor and time for packing up the food. It's all about temperature with food safety, so we always need to be mindful of that. I didn't really start with a plan. It was more like 'Have balloons. Need darts.'"
Edel said he was compelled to do something, knowing that 40 percent of the food that's prepared in the United States goes to waste. "I'm trying to walk the walk," he said. Audience member Gianni Barofsky, of Eugene's Beppe & Gianni's Trattoria, said that his kitchen staff has been scraping food off plates into a colander rather than down the food disposal. Stored in bins, the waste is picked up by a pig farmer and used as silage. "This practice is actually a practice in Parma, Italy, that goes back hundreds of years in the creation of Parmesan cheese. In the first phase of making it, the waste becomes ricotta cheese. The second phase of waste is fed to pigs." The third phase gets shaved over pasta. Barofsky said that members of his kitchen staff purchased a pig from the local farmer who receives the kitchen scraps. They had it butchered and shared the meat. If you think about it, that's quite a recycling process.
Learn more about Convention.
ORLA members, view and download presentations from Convention's variety of educational programs on industry-driven topics designed to promote and grow your business. Please note, some presentations are not available for download.
SUNDAY - OCTOBER 8
Travel Oregon 101
Carol Astley, Oregon Tourism Commission (Travel Oregon)
Travel Oregon is a key partner to have when trying to bring more visitors to your business. Learn how to tap into tourism resources and build stronger connections with the travel industry. Note: You must register for this session separately via Travel Oregon’s website.
Annual Member Meeting
President & CEO Jason Brandt, ORLA
During the Annual Meeting of the members of Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association, Jason will provide a brief overview of the association’s accomplishments and challenges, as well as share strategies for the year ahead. Members will also vote on the slate of nominees for the 2017-2018 Board of Directors and proposed changes to the bylaws.
KEYNOTE: National Issues, Local Impact
ORLA Government Affairs Team
Running a successful hospitality business in today’s economic environment presents a challenge. Greg Astley from ORLA and Bill Perry from Balance Point Strategies, will help us navigate the trends and realities of national issues and the local impact they have on the industry.
Six Strategies to Grow Your Social Media Following
Kent Lewis, Anvil Media
Social media channels offer unique opportunities for hospitality brands to gain customer insights, provide customer service, extend brand awareness and engagement as well as drive sales. One of the key components of a successful social media marketing program, however, is generating an engaged follower base. Kent Lewis, President of Anvil Media, will outline six strategies that effectively grow your social media followers, ranging from profile optimization and content creation to amplifying reach and advertising. From this presentation, you will learn actionable strategies and tactics that will increase awareness, foot traffic and reservations.
Hospitality Labor Shortage: Analysis and Solutions
Todd Montgomery, OSU-Cascades
A strong hospitality industry is fundamental to global economic prosperity. The industry accounts for 1 out of every 10 jobs worldwide. Currently, the hospitality industry is facing a labor shortage and it is impacting business operations and impeding investment and growth. In this session, results from a national study will help you understand why there is a labor shortage and some possible solutions.
Hiring Without Headaches: Staffing Solutions
Amy A. Robinson, Jordan Ramis PC
Following practical dos and don’ts can help alleviate some of the headaches associated with the hiring process. Learn how to avoid potential discrimination claims as well as important documentation and communication strategies that can be used during the hiring process. Amy will share tips for employment applications, background checks, pre-employment inquiries, and completion of the I-9 process.
2017 Legislative Updates You Need to Know About
Anne Milligan, Fisher Phillips LLP
In this past year, Oregon’s hospitality industry has seen a number of new regulations and legislation come about. Anne will provide updates on a few of these that are affecting the industry including secure scheduling, pay equity, and changes in Oregon’s paid sick leave.
MONDAY - OCTOBER 9
KEYNOTE: The Inside Scoop on Modern Marketing Trends: Understanding Your Consumer’s Quest for Perfection
Ben Powers, Visiting Media
The world of creative marketing and sales have forever changed with digital technology. By understanding and exploring this online behavior, we can discover new ways to provide information that matters deeply to an individual, in the moment, when they need it. Marketing is about adding value and giving your consumers an experience - an opportunity to immerse themselves in your business before ever stepping foot upon your premises or even picking up the phone. Visiting Media founder and president, Ben Powers, will explore today’s modern media trends and illustrate what you need to know about your consumer’s quest for digital perfection. See how others have leveraged new immersive media types like 360˚ video, aerial photography, virtual reality, and 3D-modeling to turn their existing websites, social feeds, review forums, and referral partner sites into sources of incremental traffic and revenue without presenting huge costs or time burdens to their businesses.
Donate, Don’t Waste: Steps to a Successful Food Donation Program
Alli Condra, Attorney, Davis Wright Tremaine LLP
Ben Edel, Restaurant Manager, Riverhouse on the Deschutes
If you're not already doing so, learn how to support efforts to eliminate food insecurity and wasted food by donating quality, wholesome food to food rescue programs committed to servicing those who experience hunger. Alli will help you understand the legal protections and tax benefits associated with food donation and discuss actionable steps to implement within your company. This is a great opportunity to hear about successful examples of food donation and learn how to make it a part of your business.
Tableside Steps of Great Customer Service
Paul Paz, Waiters World
The ritual of dining is a series of predictable steps that diners anticipate as part of their experience. Too often service staff lack the understanding of what and why each step is critical to create a great Oregon restaurant service experience that positions their brand above their competition. Learn the ten steps of restaurant dining service, service-sales strategies to incorporate, and take home a template to build your own custom Steps of Service to elevate the dining experience and revenues.
Legal Stew for the Hospitality Industry
Shane Swilley and Josh Dennis, Cosgrave Vergeer Kester LLP
Restaurants and lodging operators are dealing with many new regulations regarding their business operations. Cosgrave attorneys Shane Swilley and Josh Dennis will present a lively discussion on company obligations surrounding service animals and transgender bathrooms, plus practical advice for dealing with OSHA complaints and inspections.
3 Steps to Multiplying Your Traffic, Leads, and Customers
Tim Fahndrich, CEO of Third River Marketing
You want to market your business, but you're not sure where to start - online, offline, or a combination? It's easy to get confused and overwhelmed about marketing your local business but it doesn't have to be that way. Learn the 7 massive trends that are affecting local businesses right now, a simple 3-step strategy recommended for every local business, the marketing framework responsible for generating millions of dollars in revenue, and how you can successfully implement these strategies for your own business.
KEYNOTE: Culturetopia – The Ultimate High Performance Workplace
Jason Young, Culturetopia
Based on his experience as an insider at famed Southwest Airlines and consultant to dozens of other Fortune 500 companies, Jason Young offers a dramatically different approach to creating and sustaining a high-performance workplace. His solution for companies is to create an organizational culture where employees can do their best work and one that will produce the desired performance outcomes in productivity, profitability, employee retention and customer satisfaction. The key is intentionally identifying and developing the essential factors that impact performance for any organization: leadership principles, management practices, team alignment and employee behavior. These are the elements that truly define organizational culture and that have the greatest impact on results. Jason uses his experience as a manager, trainer, and consultant to dozens of leading companies to develop the concept of Culturetopia: the ultimate high-performance workplace. In this presentation, Jason provides practical, easy to implement guidance to the seven key determinants that make a healthy, productive and profitable culture of any team or organization.
Trend Lines in Oregon's Tourism Economy: Data, Forecasts and Indicators from the Tourism Industry
Scott Warren, Driftline Consulting
Drawing from multiple data sources, the session will examine trends in lodging performance, visitation to Oregon, and the factors behind the top-line numbers. Starting at the macro-level and working down to Oregon and its regions, the session will weave together a variety of lodging, research, and economic data sources to tell a rich story about the condition of the Oregon tourism industry and its trajectory. The goal of the session will be to provide perspective on where Oregon’s lodging industry has been, where it is going, and the factors which drive these trends.
Hospitality Operations and Start Ups
Rick LeSage and Gillian Rowley, Northwest Consultants, LLC
Are you looking to improve efficiencies in your operation? Industry veteran and consultant, Rick LeSage, will cover some timely topics regarding operations and marketing for existing restaurants as well as start-up costs and tactics. His perspective regarding strategic planning in the restaurant industry comes from years of hands-on experience.
Retirement Plans for Employees
Oregon Retirement Savings Board, Deanna Longair, OregonSaves, and Garth Rouse, Garth T. Rouse & Associates
OregonSaves is a new, state-run retirement program for employees of businesses who do not currently offer a retirement savings plan. It allows employees to save a part of each paycheck through payroll deductions facilitated by their employer and invest their savings in professionally-managed investment options in a Roth individual retirement account. Hear more details and ask questions on how this can be a tool to retain good employees.
Trends and Insights in the Hourly Hiring Marketplace
Razan Naqeeb, Snagajob
Hourly worker regulations have been in the spotlight lately, illustrating a changing landscape for employers to navigate. Gain a better understanding of hourly workers – what drives them and what they need to stay motivated – and learn some of the trends and key insights on how you can improve hourly workers’ job experiences to help them maximize their potential.
Hospitality Technology Showcase (Monday)
Bill Smart, OSU-Cascades
Oregon State University-Cascades hospitality management program is holding its first annual hospitality technology showcase Monday, Oct. 9. This event will feature the robotics company Savioke and their Robot Botlr. Professor Bill Smart of OSU’s nationally recognized robotics department will also be discussing applications of robotics in the hospitality industry.
Back to the Convention page
Thank you to our Breakout Session sponsors:
The Annual Meeting of the members of Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association (ORLA) will be held on Sunday, October 8, 2017 in conjunction with the Annual Convention. Agenda items will include a briefing on the status of the association, election of the ORLA Board of Directors and action to amend the association’s bylaws, as proposed above.
For more information on the Annual Convention, visit OregonRLA.org/Convention or contact ORLA at 800.462.0619.