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Issue Date: Vol. 49, No.4, April 2009, Posted On: 4/15/2009

Cocktail College: Merit Begins Development Of 1st Training Application

Nick Montano
Merit Entertainment, AMI Entertainment Network, Megatouch, Cocktail College, ShowTenders, Bartending, Amusements, Arcade, Videogame, Interactive Entertainment, Digital Media, Coin-Op, Coin-Operated, Vending, Vending Machine, Automated Retailing, Tavern, Bar, Nightclub

Merit Entertainment announced in March that it is developing the industry's first interactive training program in partnership with ShowTenders, a pioneer in bartending education.

The application is called Cocktail College, named after ShowTenders' flagship online training tool for bartending. Merit expects to release the bartending training program on a subscription basis for Megatouch games in the fall. Because it will be hosted by ShowTenders' website, terminals running the program will require broadband connections.

"Training is a win-win for bar owners looking to boost profits and for bartenders who want to increase their check averages," said Merit's AJ Russo. "Cocktail College and Megatouch are a perfect match for employers looking to train their people onsite, in an entertaining way, with the most proven program available."

According to Russo, creative director at Merit, all sessions at the ShowTenders site will be available for the Megatouch version. ShowTenders has begun development of the new product, which will be optimized for interactivity in a touchscreen environment.

While the curriculum is always accessible on one's personal computer, there are advantages to bringing Cocktail College to the location, Russo noted. Staff will have access to the instruction and drink recipes at work. Megatouch also taps into the competitive spirit of tavern employees. Quiz material covering different chapters in the training program will be delivered in Megatouch's trivia format. It can also support training tournaments.

The creative director said that Merit is currently exploring interest for Cocktail College at the national account level, but plans to make it available industrywide. "We can see operators benefiting from this new application in several ways," Russo told VT. "By making available the training techniques that are usually only within reach of the big chains, operators can help their accounts generate more revenue by providing superior drink service."

It can also be used as an effective selling tool for obtaining new locations that previously were resistant to placing games, Russo added. "Studies show effective training can boost sales by 10% -- something every bar and restaurant owner and operator would like to see, especially in this economy," he said. "The Cocktail College software is cost-effective and convenient, giving bartenders access to faster, tastier drink-making tips without even leaving the bar."

Tampa, FL-based ShowTenders serves clients in most major cities around the world, and attributes its success to satisfying the commercial interests between brand name mixers, distilleries and restaurants. Chief executive officer Michael Werner, TGI Friday's corporate trainer, and president Patrick Skeadas, a 30-year hospitality veteran, founded the concern in 1991.

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