With more than 9,000 breweries in the country there might be some owners that assume everyone walking through the door already knows about the brewing process and what all that fancy, expensive stainless-steel equipment does. Education should never stop and making assumptions is never the right track.
To help forge a deeper connection with consumers, breweries of all sizes should be thinking about regular tours. Even if they are held once a week or once a month, giving drinkers a peek inside the brewery to explain process and equipment can create a lasting impact – so long as it is done correctly.
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“A lot of people have been on a brewery tour already and heard about the brewing process, so in addition to that information make sure you’re working in what sets your brewery apart from the others, like innovation, green practices, community givebacks, and special equipment and how it is used,” says Mike Walker, the head of On-site Business Development at Lakefront Brewery in Milwaukee, WI. “That’s what I find important. Also you need to have entertaining guides that have good energy, good positivity, and have a tour that is rehearsed and polished.”
Lakefront has been continuously recognized as offering one of the best tours in the country. In addition to history and process the brewery also uses its bottling line to re-create a famous scene from the television show “Laverne and Shirley.” The brewery sells tickets to its tours that includes pints and Walker says that the brewery usually reserves a beer on the brewery floor taps that is not available in the tasting room, just on the tour.
“That adds a bit of exclusivity,” he says.
The tour is popular with group trips like bachelorette and bachelor parties and without getting too rowdy, Walker says the tour guides try to make the experience as interactive as possible and will get the person-of-the-hour in front of the group for pictures and a little special attention, which builds good will for the brand.
“This is about putting on a show,” he says. Word of mouth from locals and tourists help keep the tour active and fully booked. From hotel concierges and ride share drivers, getting people in the know about a fun beer experience can bring new customers into the brewery on a regular basis.
For smaller breweries tours are also a chance for brewers owners to connect with groups and to not only share information about the business but also solicit feedback in a more intimate setting. Hearing and seeing what moves an engaged drinker can provide consumer insight and habits that in turn can fuel the brewery’s growth.
A tour shouldn’t be a burden for a brewery, but can be a boon to the bottom line and help create a deep and lasting experience with your brand, no matter how small or large the brewery.