Your Technology Backed Solution to the Labor Shortage

The labor shortage is an increasingly credible threat to the hospitality industry. While consumers are headed back to hospitality businesses in droves, workers are not. The U.S. Labor Department reported 1,378,000 unfilled jobs at restaurants at the end of September of 2021. The quit rate in accommodations and food services was at 6.6%, over double the average rate across all industries. While Insider reports that restaurants are raising prices, cutting opening hours, and even closing down for good, there is another solution. Internet of Things (IoT) Technology. Implementing technology, automations, and controls through Smart Dispensing for beverages can help hospitality businesses cut down on labor needs while delivering frictionless service.

Labor Shortage in Restaurants and Bars

Integrating technology into existing practices allows restaurants and bars to decrease labor needs without compromising customer service. One touch and touchless Smart Dispensing allow bartenders and servers to save time measuring beverages, mixing cocktails, and tracking and replacing inventory. Each staff member has the capability to serve and engage with more customers thanks to the ease and precision of Smart Dispensing.

Interested in taking your technology one step further? Self-serve ordering and beverage fulfillment stations allow customers to take their orders into their own hands. While customer service will never be obsolete, staff that used to man registers can instead help prepare food, clean facilities, and attend to other guest needs. In addition to saving on labor needs and costs, self-serve stations receive more orders than staff members who take orders. Deepthi Prakash, global director of product and marketing for an Omnicom Group Inc. advertising agency told The Wall Street Journal that “diners are more likely to place bigger orders and add more substitutions when they order digitally because they can hide their embarrassment from servers”. In addition, “People order more and the tables turn over faster, because they can get their orders and they can get their bills sooner.”

QR codes and Bring Your Own Device technology also allow restaurants to update their menus, ingredients, and offerings seamlessly. Rather than reprinting and distributing paper menus, online menus accessed through consumer tech reduces waste and labor. 

While self service and Smart Dispensing are becoming more commonplace in restaurants and bars, the same technology can be implemented throughout the hospitality industry, offering the solution to the labor shortage at stadiums, in hotels, on cruise ships, and more.

Labor Shortage at Stadiums

Stadiums and arenas possess labor needs, such as cooks and security, that remain assets to the industry. Positions that cannot be seamlessly replaced by technology are more easily filled when there are fewer unfilled positions to compete with. As in restaurants and bars, stadium cashiers and bartenders can be aided by Smart Dispensing and even replaced by self-serve stations. IoT technology also provides connected solutions that track inventory, predict when and where inventory is needed, and can be programmed to automatically lock and unlock taps.

Jonathan Stahl, Vice President of Ballpark Operations for the Washington Nationals shares how simple it is to halt serving at the bottom of the 7th inning, “With the click of a button, we can just turn off service for everybody. And then we can pull reports and find out to make sure that our servings are matching up to what we’re ringing up in the point of sales system as well and hold our staff accountable.” 

In addition, granting access to third-party vendors, where appropriate, allows stadiums to work smart rather than duplicating roles across their own staff.

Labor Shortage at Hotels 

Both the labor shortage and hotel cleanliness policies have been exacerbated by the onset of Covid-19. Sestra’s Smart Dispensers help alleviate both issues through alerts. Alerts can be set up to notify the appropriate staff of which stations need attention and when, based on volume, temperature, cleaning schedules, and more. Not only does Smart Dispensing increase efficiency which reduces labor needs, communicating your cleanliness standards may also help assuage concerned staff and applicants. Additionally, Sestra’s Smart Dispensing technology eases operations, increases speed of service, and offers consistency, all while integrating with guest folios and property management systems. Just as self-service helps reduce labor needs in restaurants, bars, and stadiums, mobile bars, tap walls, and other self service stations allow hotels to streamline their restaurant service and monetize their lobbies without incurring additional labor needs. 

Labor Shortage on Cruise Ships

Not only are cruise ships experiencing similar labor shortages to restaurants, stadiums, and hotels, they endure the additional challenge of limited capacity for inventory and staff. Sestra’s Smart Dispensing can help by pinpointing inventory needs to match pouring activity. This ensures that the crew always has what they need to serve guests, while reducing excess cargo on the ship, which minimizes fuel use in loading and unloading in port and weight on the ship. Alert dashboards also show which bars need attention, highlighting exactly where resources are needed, solving problems before they occur. Not only do these tactics reduce excess inventory, they’re your solution to the labor shortage and help you offer your guests frictionless service. 

While Sestra has been perfecting and distributing IoT technology since our inception, the labor shortage has exacerbated the need for the hospitality industry to streamline their technology and implement Smart Dispensing. Our cloud-connected solutions enable customers to maximize profit by preventing loss, improving service speed and quality, easing operations, and reducing labor needs. Whether your venue is interested in streamlining service behind the bar, offering self service, or both, contact us today to learn how we can help you implement your technology backed solution to the labor shortage. 

4 Game Changing Ways Mobile Bars Are Increasing Sales

Restaurants, hotels, and stadiums all have varying capacity limits as well as reasons for drawing in guests; but there is one thing that rings true for every venue within the hospitality industry. Beverage sales provide one of the largest returns on investment and mobile bars can help you increase that ROI. Because Mobile bars are self-serve, your venue can implement additional points of service and, therefore, incur additional revenue without paying for additional staff. Mobile bars serves the same beer, wine, cocktails, and more as your stationary Smart Dispensers, in a compact package. From dispersing your guests to providing additional points of service, mobile bars reduce wait times and provide consistent pours, resulting in an improved guest experience.

1. Spread Guests Throughout Your Venue

If there is a single exhibit or area of your venue that typically receives more foot traffic, stationing bars throughout different areas of your venue can draw and disperse crowds. Similarly, if your venue features a permanent bar and overworked bartender, mobile bars can alleviate staff and eliminate customer wait times. Determine where you want guests to gather, whether that’s near a specific exhibit or simply away from a more crowded corner.

Keep in mind that guests can only approach mobile bars that they know about. Use signage or inform staff to direct patrons toward the distributed points of service. You can also disperse crowds by offering different beverages types at each mobile bar. Try boosting an event’s customer experience by curating the drink options throughout the venue. For example, feature beer at one mobile bar, dispense wine at another, and cocktails at a third, or, a complete tour of specialty drinks.

2. Move Service Between Indoors and Out

Whether you’re a conservatory with indoor and outdoor exhibits, a restaurant that offers outdoor service when weather permits, or a multipurpose venue, mobile bars are a great way to draw guests outdoors and alleviate the indoor points of service. When your outdoor exhibits or service is closed, simply move your mobile bars indoors. Setup and relocating a mobile bar is more manageable than the setup and teardown of a full bar, making it easy to adjust your venue’s layout for different occasions.

Whenever you relocate a mobile bar, you are able to map its location so that your data reflects the pours in each area. Learning from your pour data may influence where you station your mobile bars during various circumstances.

3. Monetize Your Lobby

Even if your hotel features a restaurant or bar, mobile bars allow you to monetize your lobby. At check-in, offer guests the opportunity to purchase a specified number of glasses or ounces. The purchase will prompt an email to send to your guest with their beverage allotment, a link, and instructions for redemption. Then, when guests are ready to redeem, they approach the pour station, click the link, and dispense. While there are multiple ways to offer self service, email delivery allows you to control who can pour, which offers insight into your service with each pour mapped to a specific guest or member.

4. Add Points of Service During Holidays and Events

Hotels and restaurants alike are affected by seasonality and typically experience higher guest counts around the holidays. In addition, wedding and other event venues host multiple parties of varying sizes and must be able to adjust accordingly. Mobile bars offer additional points of service when needed and can be stored when not.

Your mobile bars’ data is collected in the same manner and displayed on the same dashboard as your permanent bars. Use your pour data to measure the effects of seasonality and plan for next year. Discover the popularity of each beverage and stock accordingly. Your data can also influence staffing and when to reintroduce your mobile bars.

When using mobile bars for events, wedding planners and bar managers will be grateful for the indisputable numbers they can deliver with the bill after the wedding, office party, or Bat Mitzvah has ended. Data doesn’t only mean dollars. Use Smart Dispensing to pour the bride and groom’s signature drinks. At the end of the night, share who had the winning cocktail. Mobile bars add additional points of service and an element of fun to your venue.

Not only do mobile bars provide multiple advantages, they can be implemented in several ways to benefit your restaurant, museum, or event venue. Your data is collected across your Smart Dispensing systems, offering a full picture of your beverage program’s delivery and success. In addition, your alerts and Sestra service work the same across all of your Smart Dispensing stations. Questions about your existing Smart Dispensing systems or wondering how your venue can take advantage of mobile bars? Contact us today.

Ghosts to Gobbling- Transitioning from Halloween to Thanksgiving

Transitioning your venue from Halloween to Thanksgiving keeps the fun going, the seasonal menu orders high, and your customers coming back again and again. But don’t worry, change doesn’t have to be 👻 scary  👻  and Thanksgiving promotions don’t have to be a big lift. This season is the ideal situation for you to work smart, not hard. From renaming your menu items and repurposing decorations to pivoting your promotions, your venue can easily and seamlessly transition from celebrating Halloween to implementing some Thanksgiving fun.


If your venue offered spooky themed beverages, now is the time to check your inventory and determine how you will repurpose your specials. Sestra’s Smart Dispensing platform seamlessly tracks your inventory for you and your Remote Station Manager app provides live notifications that alert your team when beverages are running low and kegs need to be replaced. 

Consult your customer portal to see how much beer, wine, cocktails, etc you have left, down to the ounce, to help you determine the effort you’ll want to put behind selling out. For example, if you have half a keg or less of a Halloween themed cocktail, you may decide to run a special, counting down your servings. If you have significant inventory that affects your bottom line, turn your Halloween specials into Thanksgiving specials. Spooky cocktails can be renamed and served in different glassware while beer and wine can be served as fall favorites rather than ghoulish glasses.

Not only do guests appreciate new, holiday themed experiences, seasonal menu items see 26% more orders than regular menu items. Increase your customers and their orders with Thanksgiving themed beverages and specials.


Now that Halloween is over, it’s time to pack up the ghosts and goblins until next year. Anything too spooky or obviously Halloween related should be removed, but transitioning from Halloween to Thanksgiving doesn’t mean you have to completely redecorate. Fall decor like pumpkins, changing leaves, and cornucopias can continue to provide Instagrammable opportunities to your guests.

If your venue hasn’t already hopped on the chalkboard trend, it may be a good time to consider the investment. Chalkboards have become super popular among restaurants, breweries, and wineries, and are the perfect sustainable decoration that can be updated for each holiday. Even if your business invests in a chalk artist to spruce up your board, you may find that the benefits outweigh the cost. A chalk artist’s time and skills don’t require storage, you’re supporting a local artisan, and you’re bringing another Instagrammable feature to your venue. 



Your venue’s promotional opportunities are as vast as your creativity. From upselling to hosting seasonal happy hours to being a donation hub, your venue can offer customer incentives that will help your seasonal beverages sell out.

Upselling your beverages can be as simple as offering multiple pour sizes to your guests. While “small”, “medium”, and “large” does the trick, you can also think outside of the box and offer sizes named after your venue or the season. For example, “thankful”, “grateful”, and “beholden” could be your size names through the end of November.

Hosting happy hour is another way to promote your seasonal beverages and reward your loyal locals. Rename the event “Thankfulness Hour” and offer beverage specials as a way to thank your customers throughout the Thanksgiving season. Your Smart Dispensing system keeps an eye on your inventory for you, helping you determine which beverage is best to promote each day or week.

Not only is it the season of thankfulness, it’s the season to give back. Collaborate with a local non profit or food bank and offer your venue as a donation site. Whether your community is in need of non-perishable food items, is running a coat drive, or is collecting Toys for Tots, your restaurant, hotel lobby, or auditorium can serve as a collection site. Once donors show up to drop off, make sure your seasonal beverage specials are front and center. 


Not only does your sales analytics illustrate the ROI of your menu items, it helps you make real time, data-backed decisions that can make your venue more profitable. Sestra’s Smart Dispensing platform keeps your data centralized and organized, allowing you to compare your success month over month, holiday over holiday, and year over year. In addition, Sestra customers use their data to determine best sellers as well as what they should remove from the menu. Need help rotating inventory more effectively or predict ordering needs? Contact your customer care representative. 

A season of change is among us and the hospitality industry has proven its ability to pivot and prevail. Transitioning your venue from Halloween to Thanksgiving can include simple changes to your beverage line up, decorations, and promotions that help you stay on trend and welcome excited guests. If your venue is offering Thanksgiving beverages and promotions, we want to hear about it! Tag Sestra Systems in your Thanksgiving promo posts on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram and don’t forget to encourage your guests to tag you in their posts!


Halloween Promotions in a Box- Restaurant Edition

Spooky season is here. Skeletons are adorning yards, costumes are being planned, and pumpkin spice everything is taking over menus. It’s time for your restaurant to follow suit and plan, promote, then analyze the results of your Halloween festivities. Halloween drinks and decorations are Instagramable incentives sure to lure in your regulars as well as attract new patrons. In addition, restaurants with seasonal menus see 26% more orders! Plus we’re going to walk you through it all, from determining your offer, to promoting on social media, to analyzing the success of your event by evaluating your Sestra data. 

Planning Your Halloween Offer

Your restaurant has infinite options for getting guests excited to celebrate Halloween at your venue. Determine when you’re going to kick off your promos as well as what you’re going to offer and how you’re going to decorate.

Establish Your Timeline

Will your restaurant celebrate the day of Halloween or all month long? A one day event means exclusivity while month-long food and beverage specials mean a bigger window to sell. Either way, it’s time to plan and launch your brilliant and spooky ideas. 

Offer Speciality Drinks 

Create custom cocktails or promote seasonal beer and wine. Save on cost, labor, and time by dispensing your beverages on tap. Specialty Halloween drinks and festivities are sure to draw a crowd so you want your service to be as seamless as possible. For cocktails specifically, serving from kegs can save several minutes per beverage and produces a consistent cocktail every time. Seasonal glassware and garnishes are extra special touches that add to the customer experience.










Decorate Your Restaurant

People love Halloween and you may be surprised at the buy-in you get from staff. You could even turn decorating into a contest- divide your staff into teams and have each team decorate a section of the restaurant. Either choose the winners yourself or have your guests vote. Award the winning team food and drinks from the restaurant, a day off of their choice, or something else you agree on ahead of time. 

Whether you do it yourself, hire a team, or get your staff involved, decorating can be as generic as pumpkins and skeletons or hit on a more specific theme like:

Harry Potter (decorate your restaurant according to the different Hogwarts houses),  Beetlejuice (just don’t say his name three times), or spooky classics like Dracula and Frankenstein’s monster.

Your options are as plentiful as your imagination! Whatever your theme, the only way people will be excited about it is if they know about it…

Promote Your Halloween Festivities

Update Your Menu

Update your online menu to promote your beverage specials and/or upcoming event. Take it one step further by updating the QR code placards, encouraging guests to scan to learn more about your Halloween drinks and festivities. If you haven’t already implemented QR codes and online menus at your restaurant, read Bring Your Own Device in the Food and Beverage Industry for tips to make your guests’ technology go further.

Requiring RSVPs?

If you’re going to cap the headcount for your event, use a platform like Eventbrite to gather RSVPs. You can even connect Eventbrite with your Facebook page, allowing guests to RSVP through either platform without receiving duplicates. 

Social Media

With over 2.8 BILLION active users, Facebook is an accessible platform for growing brand awareness, sharing specials and events, and eliciting RSVPs. Wherever your business has an online presence, use those platforms to promote your Halloween festivities. Note that each social media platform has different features and best practices and, while you don’t want to overwhelm your followers by posting too much, not every follower is going to see every post you publish. Promote your specials at least once a week and be sure to repost user generated content. How can you get your guests to post? While your Instagrammable drinks and decorations will have your guests snapping photos, a branded hashtag can help you track their posts related to your Halloween promos. 

Choose a branded hashtag specific to your Halloween festivities. Use this hashtag to promote your specials and encourage your guests to use the hashtag when posting their own photos. Why can’t you just ask guests to tag your business? You definitely can and should ask guests to tag your business when they post! A hashtag specific to your Halloween promos allows you to easily find and quantify your user generated content revolving around your event. The user generated content can help when measuring the success of your promotions. While sales are going to be the biggest determinant of success, user generated content means brand awareness beyond your own sphere of influence.

Measure Your Success

Sestra’s Smart Dispensing platform uses IoT technology to connect your otherwise siloed data. Each beverage and serving size can be tracked, allowing you to ensure that pours are aligned with the sales that were actually rang in. Compare your typical sales with the sales from the dates of your promos as well as the sales of specialty drinks vs. your typical menu throughout the dates of your promos. Our customers use their Sestra data to determine what beverages are bringing in the highest ROI and switch out offerings that aren’t as popular. We also help venues create promotions to rotate inventory more effectively and predict ordering needs to capitalize on seasonal trends.

Whether you celebrate spooky season with drink specials or go all out with decorations, Halloween promotions at your restaurant help welcome both regulars and new customers to your venue. And don’t stop at Halloween- use these tips to implement any seasonal specials or holiday promotions. If you don’t already have Smart Dispensing implemented at your restaurant, contact us today to learn how we can connect your technology and deliver actionable data. Already working with Sestra? Contact your customer care representative to help you set up your customer portal and analyze your seasonal trends.