Over the Bar

Back Bar USA's Weekly Newsletter

Asked & Answered: Tim Haughinberry, Back Bar USA
May 28th, 2020


We asked the Back Bar USA Founder and President for insight into his corner of the industry.

What is the current state of affairs where you work? 
Back Bar USA relies on the “On-Premises” sector of the beverage industry. The Boutique and Leisure properties (Kimpton Hotels, 1 Hotels, Vail Resorts) have all stopped food-and-beverage service. The national casinos (MGM Resorts, Golden Nugget) and local casinos (Circus Circus, Sahara, Grand Sierra Resort) are all closed until June 4. With that, 99 percent of our business has been affected. A portion of our services focuses on events, experiential marketing, and large-scale sponsorships. This segment of our business is on hold until people start going out in masses. Another portion of our business—consulting, sourcing, print—is doing better over the last week as hospitality venues start to reopen. Our clients have minimal staff and know they can rely on Back Bar USA to assist them with their needs.

What do you predict for your workplace or industry in the foreseeable future?
For the workplace, we will focus on the reopening needs of our clients and stay optimistic that things will return to 100 percent sooner than later. As mentioned in this newsletter, Golden Nugget started reopening properties over the weekend to large crowds and thirsty consumers! For the industry, we see product sales having a slow restart. Most properties have inventories and, with limited seating and hours, it will take a few months for them to deplete. On the marketing side, we see a strong demand for events, promotions, sampling, and giveaways. The customer will need to attract a client, and I believe experiences and value will be important.

What new skills have you learned during this time? 
Over the last few years, I have focused on creativity and programming. With the pandemic, I had to sharpen my management and big-picture skills. I analyzed, studied, processed, and then executed a plan that keeps the company going.

What is one “best practice” you’ve developed in response to the business challenges presented by COVID-19?
Best practice has been communication. We reach out to every client personally on a weekly basis to see how they are doing, talk business, and await the future. We retooled our social media platforms and this newsletter to provide valuable information on industry practices and resources.

Who in your industry has been doing something impactful?
I like people who are optimistic and proactive, who analyze the situation, get with the experts, and come up with a plan. I admire Matt Maddox of Wynn Resorts for being the first and loudest voice for Las Vegas and, in my opinion, the hospitality industry. I admire MGM Resorts as a business; it is very difficult to run a company as large as MGM. It takes time, patience, and dedication to turn the wheel. This company went through employee turnover, CEO and board changes, and then COVID. It was a tsunami in business and they are coming out of it very well. I also admire Tilman Fertitta, who kept his restaurants alive and kicking and was all set to open the casinos successfully and full-throttle the day his states approved it! I appreciate all these points of view and characteristics. They are all important qualities in running a successful business. People want to judge from the outside, but trust me, it’s not easy, no matter what the size.