With the world returning to normal, it’s time to break out the fancy glasses and celebrate—beer and wine festivals are finally back on the menu.
For brewers and vintners, now is the perfect opportunity to start planning your next event. But how can you take a normal gathering and make it stand out? How do you ensure guests are cheers-ing and clamoring for more?
Today, we’ll discuss how to plan your very own beer and wine festival, and how to take it to the next level.
Step 1: Find a Location
If you don’t already have a chosen spot, location scouting should be the first step you take.
Securing a venue can play a fundamental role in determining the success or failure of an event. If you select a venue that’s in an undesirable location, hard to travel to, or unsuitable for the crowd, it can instantly ruin any chance of a positive outcome.
So, what are some of the considerations when finding a venue for a beer and wine festival? They include:
- Capacity – How many people do you expect to attend? If you get a massive venue but only have a few attendees the space can feel much too large and be costly. On the flip side, if you corral festival goers into a small space, it can feel crammed and unwelcoming. At the very least, it needs to be big enough to host the breweries and wineries, the catering, and entertainment.
- Accessibility – Is it easily accessible? Especially for an event whose focus is alcohol, you need to have accommodations—whether that’s being close to public transport, in the middle of a walkable city, or arranging transport. Similarly, you need to think about traffic congestion if the venue isn’t readily accessible.
- Grounds – Often, for this type of festival, it’s better for it to take place on grass than concrete. For one thing, glass is far less likely to break on grass. Also, if you have music or live entertainment, grass is more accommodating for a picnic or festival-like atmosphere.
- Weather – When do you plan to have the event? If it’s occurring in a season that’s more likely to be cold or rainy, your venue may need to be indoors.
- Infrastructure – While a large field may be able to accommodate a big crowd, it may lack the infrastructure you need to successfully host a festival. For instance, you need to consider power, bathrooms, and water. Unless you have the budget and resources to plan around such issues, it’s likely better to select a venue that already has all of the accommodations you require.
Step 2: Obtain Permits
So, you found a spot. Your next task is to make sure you can legally run the festival.
In most states, you’ll be required to obtain permits in order to have people attend and, more importantly, sell alcohol. Per the Brewers Association: “Your state’s Alcoholic Beverage Commission is the first stop in the planning of a festival. Getting their buy-in is critical. [You should] bring an experienced alcohol lawyer every time, just in case.”
But what permits will you need to acquire?
That depends on various factors, but common considerations include:
- ABC Event Permit to sell alcohol at the event.
- Health Department Permit if you plan on selling food.
- A noise permit if you plan on having music.
- A business license to host the event.
- A building permit if you plan on having tents or other structures.
- A seller’s permit if you plan on selling merchandise.
After you’ve selected a venue, be sure to check in with the county and city to see what exactly is required to host your festival. And do this early on. It could take weeks if not months to get the process going, and you don’t want to wait until the last minute and have to send out those dreaded change-the-dates.
Step 3: Consider Your Crowd
In the past, the novelty of a beer and wine festival was enough of a motivator to draw a large crowd. Today, simply having a festival with drinks, food, and music may not be enough in and of itself. It’s vital that you align the festival and all that it entails with the intended audience.
You may decide to do a theme, like Octoberfest, where all of the drink, food, and music offerings pair with the theme. This helps transform the event from being a day in the park to an actual festival.
Before you begin planning, consider who your ideal audience is and partners are. As Eventbrite notes: “‘Craft beer’ means different things to different people, and different crowds have different expectations of what a beer fest should be. To give beer-lovers a great experience, you need to decide who you want to target and get to know what they’re looking for.”
You also have to be careful who you partner with as sponsors and vendors. They’ll play a large role in both promoting and drawing a crowd. Ideally, you want sponsors that have a devoted following, a strong social media presence, and are capable of driving outreach. Ideal partners include:
- Popular local breweries and vineyards
- Local grocery or alcohol stores
- Beverage distributors
- Radio and TV stations
Step 4: Line Up the Food Vendors to Pair
The food options at a festival are every bit as important as the wine and beer offerings. Put simply, if you don’t provide food, people are less likely to stay as long. Not to mention, it’s a recipe for alcohol-related issues when people are tasting various drinks for hours at a time without anything to soak it up.
What’s more, food can be just as big of a draw as the alcohol. And by partnering with local restaurants and food trucks, you can create a welcoming atmosphere that highlights the very best of the community and includes even those attendees that don’t drink.
Step 5: Prevent Lines with Contactless Ordering
One of the most common complaints about a beer and wine festival are the long lines to order drinks and food. But you can prevent that and streamline the ordering process by adding a contactless ordering application.
How does that work?
Guests receive a QR code that they scan to access a digital menu. From there, they can make an order, pay, or even split a bill—all from their phone and without any of the hassle of lines. And, in a festival setting, you could set up this system so that each vendor has a unique QR code.
Benefits of this includes:
- No waiting in line to order or pay
- Easy access to a digital menu filled with pictures of the drink or food options
- Vendors are able to process more sales and aren’t forced to have multiple employees taking meal orders
- Customers often place larger orders
This may seem like a small change, but in a festival setting, few things are more disruptive than long lines. By adding this easy feature, you streamline the process, empower the vendors, and allow people to focus on having a good time instead of standing around waiting.
Step 6: Maximize Branding and Advertising Early
Beer and wine vendors at the ready? Check. Tasty treats ready to tantalize the taste buds? Check-check. Now it’s vital that you carefully create a branding and marketing strategy that spreads the word and encourages people to purchase their tickets.
Here, having a well-rounded marketing approach is ideal. Utilize every channel at your disposal, including:
- A branded website – This provides information about the event, the vendors, vintners and brewers attending, the music, and more. It gives you an opportunity to differentiate your festival from others. The website will also be the portal for ticket sales.
- Social media – Harness the power of social media to drive sales and generate excitement about the event. You should at least create a Facebook event page to also be a channel for ticket sales. Similarly, Instagram and other sites can be leveraged to share teasers and posts about what to expect.
- Giveaways – Giving away tickets to vendors, local radio or tv stations, and community centers is the perfect way to advertise the festival. By building strategic partnerships, you can utilize their networks to help foster excitement.
Start Planning Your Game-Changing Festival
The sheer logistics of planning a beer and wine festival can be overwhelming. But trying to make it special makes the task even more difficult.
At GoTab, our contactless ordering system could be just the technology that sets your festival apart from others. By eliminating lines and streamlining orders, you can create a cohesive experience for both your vendors and festival attendees.
Interested in seeing how GoTab could take your festival to the next level? Schedule a free demo today!
- Brewers Association. Festival/Event Checklist. https://www.brewersassociation.org/attachments/0001/1075/Festival_planning_checklist.pdf
- Alcoholic Beverage Control. https://www.abc.ca.gov/licensing/license-forms/event-authorization/
- Eventbrite. Pros Spill 6 Tips for Planning the Ultimate Beer Festival. https://www.eventbrite.com/blog/7-tips-for-planning-the-ultimate-beer-festival-ds00/