FIFA time: Brazil on the world stage

Now that it’s June, it’s time for us to discuss one of the biggest events to impact consumer habits this summer — the FIFA World Cup. Held this year in the diehard football (soccer for us here in North America) country of Brazil, many would contend this is a bigger sports tournament than the Summer Olympic Games. And as this constitutes a very disruptive event for your F&B traffic (guestrooms not so much), I’ve outlined five points for you to consider outside of any standard promotions so you can best capitalize on this quadrennial occasion.

1. Schedule

The first game kicks off on June 12, and the championship match will be held July 13. That’s a full month of soccer lineups with escalating importance as the tournament goes on. Start by posting a full game timetable in and around your bars and restaurants as well as in the back-of-house kitchen areas. Do the same for your website and program a few updates for your social media outlets. This will help keep both guests and staffers well informed so they can plan accordingly.

2. Lots of TV

In order to watch sports live, you need televisions (duh!). And in this day and age of cheap LCD screens, people have high expectations in terms of size and picture definition. If you have the space or you’ve been holding off on an upgrade for a while now, consider installing one or two more sets so all the tables in the back corners have an adequate view.

3. Time zones

Coastal Brazil’s time zone is two hours ahead of us here in the eastern part of North America. (Google can easily calculate the difference if you are located elsewhere.) This means you may experience busy periods at unusual times throughout the day, necessitating some staff-schedule adjustments.

4. Open early, stay late

Building on the previous points about time-zone shifts, I’d like to recount my experiences during the recent Winter Olympics in Sochi. I’m Canadian, and as such, the most important medal for me was men’s hockey. One early game had a noon start here in Ontario, perfect for lunchtime. Unfortunately for me, my local pub was packed by 11 a.m. with eager aficionados. Then came the final match with the puck drop occurring at the convenient local time of 7 a.m. Bars all over Toronto saw fans line up as early as 5:30 a.m. to get a spot, and many establishments acquired special drinking licenses so patrons could order a beer at 6 a.m. To this end, you might want to inquire about whether there’s an opportunity to make some extra coin by opening early or staying open late in order to accommodate a popular matchup.

5. Food

As a fun exercise for your chefs, get together and see if they are able to create a few national specialty dishes to coincide with the big semifinal and championship games. For instance, suppose Greece faces off against Ukraine in the quarterfinals. Why not put pork souvlaki and Chicken Kiev up as the day’s specials? This will appease fans of Greek and Russian descent while also offering something exotic to everyone else.

6. Don’t forget your staff

It is not uncommon to have a multi-national staff in your kitchen, housekeeping, grounds keeping and other aspects of operation. Make room for some heated TV viewings in the break rooms and expect some time disruptions for the big games.