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Session | October 14, 2014 | 11:00am

Can You Really Influence a Customer?

Customer influence extends far beyond a restaurant’s four walls. Long before customers show up to dine, restaurant operators need to know who they are, how they make decisions, what incentives can best motivate them, and what channels to engage and target them through. Harnessing their experience during and after dining is critical to successfully influencing as well. Technology and analytics play key roles throughout this process. Learn from the brands and experts who are using consumer intelligence to drive customer behavior.


Sara Bittorf | Chief Brand Officer | Boston Market

Since joining Boston Market in April 2012, Sara has created a new brand centered on guest experience and has positioned Boston Market as a fast-casual industry leader. Ms. Bittorf is responsible for all aspects of marketing and has orchestrated three successful new product launches; most recently the addition of St. Louis Style ribs, which lead to an increase in sales of more than 16%. As an expert on consumer behavior, Ms. Bittorf has used her knowledge to develop campaigns and products that connect Boston Market to key audiences. After appearing as the company’s “boss” on CBS’ “Undercover Boss,” Bittorf leveraged her experience to improve restaurant quality and employee relations.

Alissa Blate | Executive VP & Global Practice Director | MWW

Alissa has vast experience engineering strategic marketing programs for major food and restaurant brands. She is a trusted counselor to the C suite looking to deliver business results through smart, effective communications strategies that build trust and relevance with key stakeholders. Blate has led consumer brand reputation campaigns for McDonald’s, Hillshire Brands and Atkins, among others. Her expertise includes developing integrated communications campaigns focusing on health and wellness strategies, community relations, influencer engagement, social media marketing, sponsorships and real time marketing. A pioneer on the use of social media for restaurant marketing, she guides restaurant brands on understanding their customers, creating a fan base and leveraging social local store marketing.

Lisken Kastalanych | VP of Marketing | la Madeleine Country French Café

Lisken serves as vice president of marketing for la Madeleine Country French Café, where she oversees brand development, marketing and public relations strategy for the rapidly expanding restaurant chain. Lisken joined la Madeleine after five years as the vice president of marketing with Pollo Campero. Prior to that, she spent more than 10 years with YUM! Brands, the parent company of Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, and KFC in domestic and international capacities. She has received various honors including being named one of the “Top 40 Under 40” Business Executives by the Dallas Business Journal.

Kara Walsh | Chief Marketing Officer | Rewards Network (Moderator)

Kara leads the marketing department at Rewards Network, and is responsible for developing comprehensive marketing strategies that help enhance marketing services for our clients. She joined the company in November 2012. Walsh brings more than 15 years of experience in launching and growing new businesses and revenue streams through general management and marketing roles. Prior to joining Rewards Network®, Walsh was the CEO at Metromix LLC, a joint venture between Tribune and Gannett, where she built into a rapidly growing national network of local entertainment websites in over 50 cities, substantially scaling national and local advertising revenue. Earlier in her career, she held key general management, marketing, loyalty, and brand management roles at companies such as Tribune Interactive, Village Voice Media, TV Guide, British Sky Broadcasting, and Coca-Cola. Walsh graduated with a B.S. in Mathematical Sciences from Clemson University and received a Master’s in Business Administration from Harvard Business School.