Tourists and Tasting Rooms

By Glenn Clark

Every brewpub is grateful for the “regulars” who pop in for a pint every week, but tourists and out-of-town visitors can also provide consistent revenue—if you know how to reach them.

However, the marketing strategies that work so well in your local market don’t always apply to consumers three hours away—so you’ll need to develop out-of-market strategies if you want to benefit from this valuable audience.

Here are four ways to bring leisure travelers and out-of-town visitors to your tasting room.

Maximize Your Online Presence

When travelers plan a visit to a city they’ve never been to, the internet can be a craft beverage producer’s best friend. Consider all of the places people can experience your destination online: your website, consumer-review apps, your social media pages, and articles and videos published by the media. Consumers can “tour” your destination in all of these environments in a matter of minutes, and the most successful businesses are investing time and effort to make sure their brand looks professional, consistent, warm and inviting across all of these digital properties.

Today, more and more people—especially tech-savvy millennials—look to social media and crowd-sourced review websites like Yelp and TripAdvisor to find out what others had to say about destinations they’re considering. Encourage everyone who visits your tasting room to share their positive experiences on consumer review websites, and to emphasize what they found to be unique or exceptional. Did they enjoy a particular beer or wine? Did the Poutine pair exceptionally well with the Pinot Noir? Was their wine pourer welcoming and knowledgeable? Testimonials like these sometimes tip a consumer in your favor—and smart business owners will do everything they can to get their customers to talk them up.

While all those positive vibes are great for business, negative online reviews are an unavoidable consequence of a free internet, and you need a written policy that states how you and your marketing assistants will react to them. Consider that negative reviews give you the opportunity to respond publicly with care and grace, and to demonstrate how you intend to address the customer’s problem. Visitors who see this kind of transparency and customer service are that much more likely to include your tasting room on their itinerary.

One final consideration—and it’s one that many businesses overlook: make sure your website is mobile-friendly. Travelers will almost always view your site on a mobile device, and you could be losing out on foot traffic if your website isn’t optimized for the small screen.

Partner with Neighboring Businesses

The phrase “a rising tide lifts all boats” is often attributed to President John F. Kennedy, but it actually originated with an unnamed New England Chamber of Commerce official—and the phrase still rings true in the tourism industry. Consider how you can partner with neighboring restaurants, hotels, shops and visitor centers:

Posters and printed brochures

Many businesses (particularly those in towns that cater to leisure travelers) have a brochure rack filled with literature from local places of interest. Developing a brochure or a poster about your craft brewery or wine bar will help you stand out from the crowd.

Outreach to hotels and B&Bs

Hotels and B&Bs have a vital interest in ensuring that their guests have an exceptional experience, and you’ll be supporting their mission by helping them populate their guest room binders with content about your tasting room or brewpub. Make a personal visit to local lodging providers and bring them brochures, business cards, and a bottle or growler of your craft beverage product. This serves three purposes: you’re helping them help their guests, you’re helping their guests find you, and you’re building personal relationships with your business peers in the local economy.

Make friends with industry employees

Frontline employees of neighboring retail businesses can be incredibly effective ambassadors for your brand—if you help them understand your value proposition. Visitors ask waitstaff, bartenders, hotel staff, Chamber of Commerce officials and other craft beverage producers for advice about “must-see” places or “where do we go next?”, and it’s up to you to make sure that your tasting room is top-of-mind. Consider tactics like hosting a “Hospitality Industry Appreciation Night,” giving away swag, or co-promoting with another business by packaging your products and services.

Promise—and deliver—an unforgettable experience

Visitors can get a drink—and maybe even your craft beverage product—at their hotel or a nearby restaurant. What gets visitors out of the hotel and into the community is the promise of an experience they’ll never forget—and that’s where you come in.

Consider all of the ways consumers experience your brand “in-person”: the exterior of the building, the greeting upon entry, the volume of the music, the product knowledge shared by the pourer, the cleanliness of the glassware, and the gratitude expressed at the end of the visit. The quality of your product is a given; the quality of the experience is what will stay with the consumer when they return home and share the details of their trip with family and friends.

If you deliver a great experience, their visit may be the first of many. If you don’t, it most certainly will be their last. And either way, they’re going to talk about it with friends, family and co-workers. Your commitment to delivering an exceptional experience for each and every guest will put you in the “must see” category, but only if a relentless commitment to customer service is a strategic component of your business (and not just a headline on your website).

Group Tours and Conventions

Organized group tours and business conventions are an easy way to fill your brewpub or tasting room with out-of-town guests—and the tour operators and CVB personnel will be more than happy to do most of the organizing for you. Take the time to build relationships within this network and you’ll be rewarded with ready-made groups of first-time customers who are more than willing to spend their money on your unique, locally-made craft product.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Glenn Clark is the founder and President of Crafting A Brand. Glenn founded CAB to provide support to craft beverage and tourism stakeholders by helping them tell compelling stories that attract customers and grow their businesses.