In honour of Victoria Beer Week (March 4-12), we are examining one of the most popular tour experiences – tastings of food and beverage, and tours of their production facilities.
With the craft food and beverage movements in full swing, we’ve seen an upswing in businesses creating their own tours or even partnering with tour companies to provide unique experiences, educate their consumers and generate new customers through word-of-mouth.
Whether you’re partnering or creating your own in-house tour or tasting, you want it to be memorable. A memorable and engaging experience helps solidify brand loyalty for those who know your business, as well as make it easier for newcomers to find you. How do you do that? Start with these four tips for making your food tour terrific:
1. Don’t just show them, involve them!
There are many great and delicious offerings that people can go out and experience. But what makes the difference between a “Tour” and an “Amazing Tour”? In our opinion, it’s all about engaging the participants. Don’t just take people into your venue, show them around, tell them how your product is made, give a sample, and say farewell. Show them your history, tell them stories about the road the business has travelled on, take and answer questions with excitement, show the motivations and passion behind your product. Ensure that whoever is conducting the tours is knowledgeable, personable, and passionate about your business and product.
If possible, try to include your participants in the creation process. This adds a level of personalization and emotional investment in the final product. Whether you have them choose a flavor, create a label, or actually give an opportunity for them to make their own; involvement in the process goes a long way in engaging your audience and generating buzz about your offering or product. A level of customization based on the participants in a particular tour will help make your experience a repeatable one, as well as one that past participants would be excited to bring new friends and family to.
2. Sample the goods!
Let’s be honest – most people are booking a food or beverage experience expecting to have a chance to indulge themselves on the delectable items they see being created. Our advice? GIVE IT TO THEM! Whenever we hear someone raving about a great food and/or beverage tour, it is accompanied by a comment along the lines of “the samples were amazing!” or “I came home so full, we skipped lunch!”. This type of comment is what usually will inspire someone to look into having the same experience. Memorable samples also help your tour become a repeatable experience, as people will want more. The fine balance to keep in mind is that you want them to be excited about each offering and not fill up before the end of the tour – so give “samples”, not “meals”. This is also an opportunity to generate awareness of some of your latest creations or flavors – use it!
3. Use ‘add-ons’ to boost the experience (and revenue)!
It is key to increasing an operator’s bottom line that there is an opportunity for the customers to add to their base experience. These offerings can be utilized to help increase the quality of the experience, and generate additional revenue. The best tours are able to encourage repeat visits and generate word of mouth by giving their customers an experience that inspires them to tell their friends about you. You want your participants to tell a tale that makes all who hear it, flock to see what the buzz is all about. Ideas you can use are:
- Souvenirs (more on that in a second…)
- An option for additional, or larger, sample portions
- Opportunity or discount for bulk orders – either on location, or after they have participated (so have a shipping option ready!)
- Partner with other experiences in the area to package a whole solution. A brewery tour followed by dinner at a related restaurant is a lot more fun than just doing one or the other. Plus, partnering with hotels and getting them to offer your experience to their guests is another way to reach the “out of town” audience.
4. Send them home with something awesome!
Unique souvenirs are a great way to keep your customers thinking about you and ensures a greater chance that they will talk about you with their friends long after they have left. Offering a keepsake or memento that they can display, or have on their person, gives an opportunity for them to be asked about the experience at which they received the item. Sunglasses, hats and t-shirts are easy examples of this. A large difference maker is the quality of the item. Don’t just get the cheapest option and put your logo on it. These are less likely to be bought in the first place, let alone be used and seen. It is better to invest in better items that sell, than to save and get less quality (or exciting) options that collect dust on your shelves. If you can, try and create a unique design that can be applied across all your items. A cool branding on a cool-looking pair of sunglasses will be snatched up so quickly, you might even want a pair yourself.
Items that are related to your product are always great too. If you are offering a distillery tour, offer branded sipping glasses. Bakery tour? Butter-knife. Breweries? Beverage cozies or unique mugs. A frequently used item that is of enough quality to be used in the same manner as the store-bought variety, will give a lasting reminder of the experience that will also generate conversation with those who notice it.
Remember, your tour is only as good as your passion for the the product. With determination and a “people-first” mentality, you will be able to create experiences that people will not only remember long after they left, but want to come back and bring their friends.