Skip navigation
Morton’s tries high-def conferencing in push for private parties

Morton’s tries high-def conferencing in push for private parties

CHICAGO 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. —A technology-laced venture involving

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 technology-laced venture involving

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. —A technology-laced venture involving

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 technology-laced venture involving

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. —A technology-laced venture involving

“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.” —A technology-laced venture involving

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. —A technology-laced venture involving

“We’re very focused on growing the Boardroom private-dining business,” he said. “It’s one of our key growth initiatives.” —A technology-laced venture involving

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. —A technology-laced venture involving

The audio-video equipment package Morton’s purchased for the Velocity partnership is easy for nontechnical people to operate, Drake said. For Velocity events, the equipment is remotely controlled from Velocity’s studios in Pittsburgh. For non-Velocity events, Morton’s staff runs the equipment manually using a password-protected controller in the Boardroom. —A technology-laced venture involving

One of the advantages of private broadcasting is that high-level executives often find it more appealing than alternative methods for taking in a presentation, said Philip Elias, president of Elias-Savion and chief executive and executive producer of Velocity Broadcasting. —A technology-laced venture involving

“At that C-suite level, they’re not going to a trade show,” he said. —A technology-laced venture involving

Elias said one corporate client, the Pittsburgh-based technology company CombineNet, sourced $2.5 million in sales immediately following its first Velocity Broadcasting event. —A technology-laced venture involving

In another example, a pharmaceutical company staged a Morton’s Velocity broadcast to introduce a new drug to 1,200 physicians in key markets. The production featured the clinicians that actually developed the drug. —A technology-laced venture involving

“The lead clinicians are not going to fly around the country for something like this,” Elias said. “This rollout otherwise could have taken 12 to18 months instead of overnight.” —A technology-laced venture involving

The companies that book Velocity events pay Morton’s only for food and beverage. There is no charge for booking the Boardroom or using the audio-video equipment. However, Velocity charges for production time and broadcast services. —A technology-laced venture involving

While the Velocity HD Suites are intended to be moneymakers, they also may be used for internal communications, Drake noted. —A technology-laced venture involving

Velocity Broadcasting events are produced in the studios of WQED Multimedia Center, another Elias-Savion partner, in Pittsburgh. Velocity on-air talent, drawn from local broadcasters, delivers content created by the host company. The average base package for a broadcast is $42,000, including cameras and studio sets. To distribute programming, Velocity relies on the encrypted satellite-broadcasting capabilities of EchoStar Fixed Satellite Services Corp., based in Englewood, Colo. —A technology-laced venture involving

“We broadcast at 1080i HD, like CBS and Discovery HD,” Elias said. —A technology-laced venture involving

Equipping a Velocity HD Suite costs about $35,000 to $40,000, Elias said. Add to that, he said, the cost of installing satellite equipment, which could range from $4,000 to $5,000 in a simple install to as much as $28,000 if a high-rise building is involved. —A technology-laced venture involving

Beyond business presentations, Velocity can deliver live, private entertainment, like the 75-minute Wynton Marsalis jazz concert that it broadcast in HD and 7.2 surround sound to corporate clients at Morton’s. —A technology-laced venture involving

“Most of the usage is business-to-business communication,” Elias said. “But for entertaining like that, it’s cheaper than taking everyone out for a round of golf, and it really makes an impact.” —A technology-laced venture involving

Hide comments


  • Allowed HTML tags: <em> <strong> <blockquote> <br> <p>

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.