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Alliance Hospitality Group: powering growth through partnership

When it comes to problem-solving, it’s often said that 2 heads are better than one. This belief underpins the relationship between Amber Jamal Eckerlund, Director of Marketing at Alliance Hospitality Group (AHG), and Amanda Hayes, Senior Account Manager at Uber Eats. Since 2019, the 2 have worked together to drive growth among AHG’s brands on the Uber Eats platform.

From creating standout digital storefronts to shaping marketing campaigns that maximize budget, explore how Amber and Amanda are powering meaningful results through partnership—and having a little fun in the process.

Delivering across a brand ecosystem

AHG has an expansive presence on Uber Eats, and with good reason. The group is home to 6 restaurant concepts, with multiple locations in Los Angeles and Phoenix. Today, 5 of these brands offer delivery with Uber Eats—2 of them exclusively. With a large footprint and ample cuisine offerings, AHG leans heavily into delivery to reach its diverse customer base.

In the 11 years that Amber has worked at AHG, she has been instrumental in growing the company both on and off the Uber Eats platform. When she started, AHG consisted of one fast-casual concept, Coral Tree Café, which became one of the first restaurants to pilot delivery with Uber Eats, in 2013. Since then, Amber has helped welcome and shape unique brand identities for AHG’s other concepts: Baltaire, Comoncy, Encanto, Flint by Baltaire, and Mora Italiano.

Amanda was introduced to AHG in 2019 after being assigned to manage restaurant accounts in Uber Eats’ LA territory. At the time, AHG’s robust brand ecosystem was already driving impressive sales on the platform. Amanda was confident that by working with an expert marketer like Amber—who intimately understands the heart and soul of each concept—she could help the portfolio succeed even more.

“Looking at the numbers alone, it was clear that the AHG brands were thriving on the platform. By working with Amber, I knew we could grow them even further. It was really exciting to start working with her personally and bring that to fruition.”

Amanda Hayes, Senior Account Manager, Uber Eats

Farming, not hunting: the account manager’s way

Amanda and Amber’s first phone call launched a working relationship that has only strengthened with time. They attribute this to their shared passion for people, problem-solving, and community-building—all of which drew them to the restaurant industry in the first place.

Another key ingredient in their partnership is Amanda’s approach to account management. As she sees it, her job at the highest level is to serve as Amber’s digital consultant. This means monitoring AHG’s websites, social media channels, online ordering experiences, and presence on all third-party apps to make sure Uber Eats is adding value to a much larger brand experience.

For Uber Eats specifically, Amanda acts as a data translator. Before calls with Amber, she dives into the platform and studies AHG’s sales metrics, customer behaviors, and operational trends. She also observes what other high-performing restaurants are doing on the platform, to see if any best practices can be applied across the AHG brands. Amanda then distills these insights and creates concrete action plans.

“On the restaurant side, we’re very divided between different sales channels and funnels. It’s really helpful to work with someone like Amanda on the account management side who knows the Uber platform so well.”

Amber Jamal Eckerlund, Director of Marketing, AHG

Approaching marketing from multiple angles

Amanda’s plans are built around one simple idea: there is no one-size-fits-all solution. This is especially true for the diverse AHG brands—which is why Amanda always prepares a suite of recommendations for Amber to consider. For marketing initiatives in particular, Amanda breaks tactics into 2 buckets: investments that require no budget and investments that maximize available budget.

No budget, no problem

No-budget investments are centered on the overall storefront experience and details that are immediately visible to customers browsing the app. To make quick sales-boosting optimizations, Amanda and Amber generally turn to the following areas:

Discoverability. Ensure that each store’s menu uses clear, relevant tags. The Uber Eats app functions like a search engine, so it’s important to think about terms customers might be searching for. Audit this area often.

Photography. Use imagery to draw in customers further. Upload an eye-catching hero image, and make sure each menu item includes an appetizing picture. Always keep fresh imagery in rotation.

Premium experiences. Identify ways to delight customers and encourage larger orders, such as through menu design. For places like Comoncy and Coral Tree Café, this could include adding proteins as modifiers to salads. For Mora Italiano, this could include adding a family-style meal geared toward a group.

“Part of being a proper partner is seeing what levers we can pull without the brand having to put money into an effort. It’s important to come to the table with multiple options.”

Amanda Hayes, Senior Account Manager, Uber Eats

Maximizing every dollar

When there is a budget for marketing efforts on Uber Eats, it’s all about making each dollar go as far as possible. Amanda and Amber keep the following principles top of mind when they tag-team on campaigns:

Campaign participation. Always consider participating in a national campaign when the opportunity arises. Uber invests heavily to promote these campaigns in the app and through email communications. By joining these efforts with a compelling offer of your own, you have an opportunity to take advantage of a spike in demand that Uber is helping to create on your behalf.

Seasonality. Look for cultural moments that align with your brand and menu. For example, Mora Italiano might consider launching an offer for a fish entree around Lent; Encanto might tee up a billboard around Cinco de Mayo. Think about times when your customers might be even more likely to make a purchase.

Timing. Be strategic with your campaign launch schedule. If a restaurant sees lower in-store traffic during lunch, that could be a good opportunity to boost visibility in the Uber Eats app. Conversely, having a campaign run during rush periods might not be the best use of funds (or the soundest operational decision).

“Think about your restaurant on Uber Eats as if it’s a secondary restaurant location. Invest in the experience the same way you would for a customer who is walking into a store.”

Amber Jamal Eckerlund, Director of Marketing, AHG

Growing with Uber Eats: 3 ways to seize the opportunity

For any operator working with an account manager, or looking to build a third-party experience that keeps customers coming back, Amber offers 3 pieces of advice:

1. Understand the platform

Spend time getting to know your dashboards, analytics, and menu capabilities. Familiarize yourself with the different tools your business can use.

2. Communicate

Account managers are your go-to resource for growing your business. Establish regular meetings and ask questions.

3. Add your own flair

Don’t miss small opportunities to bring your brand to life through your delivery experience. Respond to customer reviews on Uber Eats and think through ways to go above and beyond—AHG brands, for instance, often leave uplifting handwritten notes in delivery bags.

Above all, Amber’s main suggestion is to keep an open mind. It can be tempting to put on blinders when to-do lists pile up, but you could be missing out on something that could drastically change your business. Take it from Amber—every call she has with Amanda is filled with creative insights that open new doors of opportunity.

“If you keep asking ‘How can Uber help me?’ you’ll always find that the team will have something to give back. There’s always going to be something you can do to optimize your menu, increase your sales, and reach new customers.”

Amber Jamal Eckerlund, Director of Marketing, AHG

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