CHICAGO (Oct. 08) —A technology-laced venture involving Morton’s Restaurant Group Inc. and an advertising ally is betting that targeted, high-definition TV messages, combined with upscale food and service, will spur interest in video conferencing and boost private-party sales.
The business-to-business, virtual-meeting service is being pitched to corporate honchos by Chicago-based Morton’s—parent of the 74-unit Morton’s, The Steakhouse chain—and its partner in the enterprise, Velocity Broadcasting. Velocity is a subsidiary of Elias-Savion Advertising Inc. of Pittsburgh, Morton’s long-time advertising agency, which claims to be the nation’s premier private-broadcasting network.
A total of 71 Morton’s restaurants have so-called Velocity HD Suites housed within their branded “Boardroom” private-dining areas. Each seats between 10 and 100 invited guests for big screen, high-definition TV broadcasts carried over a satellite network, accompanied by the Morton’s food, beverage and service experience.
To attract more private parties, Morton’s installed private Boardroom dining areas equipped with a Velocity Suite high-definition, theater-style broadcasting system.
The equipment package of each suite consists of a 9-foot, drop-down screen; a digital 16:9 aspect ratio high-definition projection system; a satellite receiver certified for the Velocity-HD, high-definition format; and 7.2 surround-sound audio technology powering 11 high-fidelity speakers. Morton’s Boardrooms have a decor of dark mahogany woods, parquet floors and oriental rugs.
A key selling point of the suites, the partners said, is that they give users the ability to transmit live business information around the country at a fraction of the cost, time and bother of actual travel and face-to-face presentations. The partners said key users of the suites thus far have been pharmaceutical, financial, insurance and technology companies.
“Maybe they used to do a road show in 40 cities,” Roger Drake, Morton’s vice president of communications and public relations, said of a company that might use the new service. “Now they can get it all done in one night by broadcasting to Morton’s nationwide.”
Morton’s private dining already amounts to 19 percent of company revenues, or $58 million annually, Drake said. However, that segment of business has only a 50-percent usage rate, meaning the rooms are dark half the time.
“We’re very focused on growing the Boardroom private-dining business,” he said. “It’s one of our key growth initiatives.”
Private dining at Morton’s has a higher average check than à la carte dining, $103 per person compared with $88 per person, officials of the chain indicated. Boardroom events can be planned with either the à la carte menu or custom menus.