“If we can get one hour of face time with people, we can make fans for life.”
Shelly Claflin is Tour Manager at Bell’s Brewery in Kalamazoo, Michigan. It is not every brewery that can allocate resources to hire someone to run brewery tours and Bell’s, listed as the 7th largest craft brewery in the country in 2018, has more resources than most breweries.
But Shelly, who will be speaking on brewery tours at the 2020 Beer Marketing & Tourism Conference, is confident her experience will translate to breweries of any size. “I think my experience is relatable to every brewery,” says Claflin.
Bell’s uses brewery tours as a way to tell its history, connect with consumers, and make fans for life. They also collect information from tour attendees for marketing purposes, host distributors on tours, and do special tours touting special beers. In short, the brewery tours are a crucial aspect of the marketing program and Larry Bell has decided not to charge the thousands of people who take their hour-long tours.
You might not have 34 years of history to pitch or a beer like Oberon to attract tour goers. But Shelly believes every brewery has a unique story. “What makes a good story?” Shelly asks. “Conflict and successes. Tell people about the struggles you went through to open or grow your brewery as well as the successes you have had.”
You can also incorporate your beers, which are by definition unique, into your brewery tours. Tours that focus on the beers or ingredients can be very successful. “The more you include sensory experiences, the more people remember the tour,”, says Claflin.
In this session at the BMTC, we’ll also get into the nitty gritty, talking about tour mechanics, online reservation systems, staff training, surveying tour participants, and legal issues. But the heart of the conversation will be how you as a brewery owner or marketing person can craft a tour that appeals to your customers and is a seamless aspect of your marketing program.