Zoe Fryday catches up with former Diageo World Class manager Dan Dove to discuss his latest venture, Global Bartending, an international talent agency that connects drinks professionals with luxury brands, consumers and each other
What inspired the decision to launch global bartending? How did it all begin?
The initial idea came about two years before I left Diageo, when I was in the middle of running World Class. From the global landscape, I had a very good lens on how bartenders were being used. Also, because I managed a large team of brand ambassadors, I recognised how they were perceived. Through my career, I went through that journey of bringing the value of brand ambassadors to large corporate businesses.
I saw top-end bartenders growing into superstars and being used more and more by brands for different things, from guest bartending shifts through to digital campaigns and judging competitions. However, there was always a disconnect between the bartenders and the brand. There was a very static way of bartenders charging for their time, placing day rates on themselves. For instance, they would charge the same amount of money for a guest shift as they would for a photo shoot. That didn’t resonate. Also, getting paid for their time often presented a difficult, complicated process.
These things triggered the gap I saw that needed to be filled within the industry. In 2020, there is demand and opportunity for bartenders to tip over the trade and become consumer famous.
How does Global Bartending work?
At Global Bartending, we’re not just focusing on bartenders – we’re focusing on drinks experts. We’re looking to grow great talent within the industry.
The platform that we’ve created – the pages on the website for our talent – was a really important part of the business model. Across the industry, there has often been a misunderstanding of individuals’ skillsets and specialisms. For example, some professionals may specialise in tequila while others are highly skilled in digital marketing or public speaking. We’ve currently identified 44 of those skills, which I know will extend as we grow as a business, and we attribute them to each of our talent. We also include languages spoken, which is particularly important.
This then allows brands and companies to make clever, quick business decisions to bring on the right talent for their campaign. The pages have been a year in the making – they’re easy, simple reads and have all of the relevant information.
Why is a platform like Global Bartending vital for the trade?
We had quite a lot of feedback from people saying ‘wow what a great initiative in such a crazy time’. Like everyone else, we didn’t see the coronavirus pandemic coming, and it was a very difficult decision to know when to launch the talent platform.
Of late, a lot of marketing funds have been redirected and there has been a trend towards digital events. Because of that, we’ve been fairly busy throughout this time. It just shows that once opportunities have been opened to the talent – outside of just working in bars – they can use their skillsets on many different platforms. That’s what we’re here to do.
What reactions have you witnessed from the industry since launching?
So far, we haven’t had any negative feedback at all, which is rare with any innovation coming to the market. We’ve had an enormous response from the US, which seems to require this model more than most markets. We’ve also had a lot of interest from businesses outside of the drinks industry – other talent agencies in different sectors, event businesses and marketing agencies. Luxury fashion houses have even contacted us about how we can work together to match drinks with their brands. The assumption is that we are a business that connects talent to drinks brands. That, by default, will always be the case, but our goal is to stretch them into the consumer world, focusing on brands outside of the drinks world – all the way from fashion to technology.
What does the future hold for Global Bartending? What are your hopes and aspirations?
Our overarching goal is to become the most trusted platform in the world to access the best talent in the drinks industry. Trust takes time. We want it to become a much broader trust, not just within the drinks industry, but also outside of it.
We’re focusing on bespoke partnerships, collaborating with global glassmakers, large drink brands, equipment specialists and fashion houses. A very specific channel we’re exploring is the luxury yachting industry. There is an enormous need for having the best of the best bartending talent flown into yachts. They do the same for Michelin chefs, but who makes the drinks? We’ve identified this as a key area.
We’re also concentrating on the occasion at home, recently launching Experiences at Home by Global Bartending, where a bartender can be brought in for parties and gatherings at peoples’ homes. Recently, we put on a beautiful drinks reception on where Deano Moncrieffe created his signature Mirror Margaritas! The response was fantastic!