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Navigating Risk Management Trends: Liquor Liability in the Growing Eatertainment Industry
Rising venue alcohol sales, in part due to the rise of eatertainment, are bringing about new risks in the sports and entertainment industries. Learn best practices to navigate your way through this trend safely.
Eatertainment venues, or entertainment venues with bars and restaurants, are popping up across the country quickly. For example, driving ranges that serve food and alcohol right to your bay have become popular spots for hangouts, parties, and events. The expansion of food and beverages offered at entertainment centers comes with new advantages and risks to consider.
While food and beverage offerings can attract larger crowds, particularly crowds over 21, the promoted sales of alcohol combined with the activities offered can bring or escalate dangerous risks. To ensure that this business model brings success, there are steps that can be taken to mitigate risks and losses. Developing a risk management plan for an eatertainment business starts by recognizing the risks. Once the common or extreme risks are identified, education and protocols can be put into place to create a safer environment.
Other venues in the sports and entertainment industry that serve food and beverages, such as sports stadiums and concert venues, may experience many of these risks as well. Protocols that have proved successful at venues with a history of food and beverage sales provide examples to learn from and apply to the eatertainment industry.
Common Risks to Monitor
• Pass-offs of drinks to other people following sales transactions
• Signs of overconsumption of alcohol
• The use of fake IDs to purchase alcohol
• Customers driving home intoxicated
Each state in the US has set laws and standards for managers and employees to follow based on the type of business they operate, and the services they offer. For businesses that sell alcoholic beverages, it is a standard that the servers handling alcoholic beverages receive alcohol management training. This is the bare minimum required to keep a restaurant, entertainment center, sports park, or other venue selling alcohol in operation.
While doing the bare minimum is necessary, there are next steps to take to make a business a safer environment for all patrons and staff. Today’s best practices often become tomorrow’s standards. Beyond alcohol management training for servers, alcohol management training for all employees allows alcohol-related risks to be spotted and mitigated earlier. At an entertainment center or amusement park that serves alcohol, having ride operators that can spot when a patron is intoxicated could be key to avoiding an accident.
Helpful alcohol training programs and resources:
• State Programs
• TIPS Certification www.gettips.com
• ServSafe- Responsible Alcohol Training www.servsafe.com
• TEAM Coalition (Techniques for Effective Alcohol Serving) www.teamcoalition.org
It is important to create accountability systems within the team structure to hold each member responsible for doing their part in maintaining a safe environment. Accountability systems can be led by supervisors and managers by regularly checking in to see that all employees are following procedures and spotting hazards. Without an accountability system in place, the reward of a large tip could persuade an employee to overserve a customer or serve an underage customer thinking there would be no consequences.
Without accountability, there leaves room for employees to perform actions that benefit themselves and their friends while leaving the business and guests at risk. Creating something like an alcohol server compliance program to monitor, audit, document, and report alcohol sales transactions by servers can be a good step to promote accountability.
Safe Driving Incentives
Businesses can still be held liable for drunk driving incidents that occur after a customer has left the property. Servers are responsible for monitoring customers to ensure that those who were served alcohol are not a hazard to themselves and others on the road.
A preventative measure to mitigate this risk is to offer incentives to designated drivers. Customers who identify themselves as the designated driver in their group can receive a wristband that lets the server know not to serve them alcohol. Customers with the wristband can receive free soft drinks throughout the night for participating.
If a server observes a customer about to drive home in an intoxicated state, calling a taxi, Uber, or Lyft can be a worthwhile cost to ensure that a larger loss does not result from a drunk driving incident and that all customers make it home safe.
Eatertainment is an exciting new industry that brings fun activities and good food and beverages together to appeal to many different audiences. With anything new, there will be a learning curve to learn the best way to operate. Get ahead of the curve by identifying the risks and creating a system to create a safe and fun place that will keep customers coming back.
This article was created for educational purposes to share general information. Consult a licensed professional in your state when seeking advice. See your policy or agent to view your specific terms, conditions, coverage, exclusions, products, services, and programs.
Haley Agnew serves as the Marketing Coordinator at American Specialty Insurance. She graduated from Purdue University with a major in Marketing in 2022. During her time at Purdue, she directed a student-led agency where she was able to lead marketing and public relations efforts for 16 local clients each year across various industries. Her prior internship gave her content marketing experience in the insurance industry.
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