Allison Kafalas of Hilton

An in the Mix Feature Interview

August 12th, 2022   |   By Mallory Ambrose, IMI Media Relations Coordinator

Allison Kafalas

Director of Beverage, Americas

Hilton Hotels & Resorts

Allison Kafalas is the Director of Beverage, Americas, for Hilton Hotels & Resorts. In her role, she is responsible for leading innovative beverage programs and developing immersive food and beverage experiences for Hilton’s portfolio of full-service and luxury brands (including Waldorf Astoria, Conrad, Canopy, Hilton, Embassy Suites and Double Tree).

Mallory Ambrose: Thank you for having this interview with us. To start off, can you give our readers an overview of your background in the Beverage & Hospitality industry?

Allison Kafalas: I went to school for Hotel & Tourism Management, so I have been in this field for a while. Throughout college I worked at various hotels and restaurants to get hands-on experience. Upon graduation, I immediately started working for Starwood Hotels and specifically worked on the corporate operations team for W Hotels. I spent 10 years at Starwood in various roles, and the last 5 years were on the North America Food & Beverage team. I officially began my beverage journey in that role and was responsible for the National Beverage Program. After Starwood I spent 4 years at OTG, an airport concessionaire, as Director of Beverage. In early 2020, I joined Hilton as Director, Beverage, Americas.

MA: What is Hilton’s strategy for beverage marketing?

AK: Our strategy is to create relevant, on-trend, unique and on-brand promotions for our hotels. We focus on offering a product or experience with a clear call to action.

MA: What are some trends or revivals you have seen cycle in and out on in past few years? What do you see as some of the trends that may stick over the next year?

AK: Definitely Tiki! That, and drinks like punches or any other large format cocktail that is served in an oversized vessel. And, of course, the Espresso Martini. Everyone will mention the non-alcoholic and low ABV cocktail movement. While I do see that sticking around, I like the idea of having top-notch non-alcoholic drinks that allow you the option to add a spirit. That way, there is something for every drinker.

Cocktails from Hilton’s “Tiki Me to Paradise” promotion served at 350 First Restaurant & Lounge where guests can enjoy spectacular views of Cedar Rapids and the Cedar River as they dine — DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Cedar Rapids Convention Complex

Hilton’s “Tiki Me to Paradise” promotion features several signature handcrafted cocktails like the Mai Tai (Left), Rum Punch (Right) and Blue Hawaii (Middle) – all made with rum! — DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Cedar Rapids Convention Complex

MA: Can you share any upcoming promotions similar to the recent Tiki Promotion?

AK: We have a promotional calendar each year that we plan the year prior. Each feature is between 6-9 weeks long. Although it’s not similar to Tiki, our next promotion focuses on bourbon and beer. Specifically, a Maple Bourbon Old Fashioned and seasonal craft beer with an autumn twist. From there we go into holiday, which is always a fun one. This year our holiday promotion will showcase cocktails that have an element of glitz and glam.

MA: How has your relationship with IMI Agency, helped your ability to manage the beverage business across Hilton’s many locations?

AK: IMI is focused on ensuring our properties are compliant to our beverage program and promotions. That could mean working closer with a particular supplier to make sure there are no inventory issues with one of the featured products. Or, working one on one with me on reporting so we can analyze the success or opportunities with each promotion.