4 Tips To Make Your Virtual Beer Festival Successful

Enjoying a hefeweizen from Martin House while attending Hop Culture's Beer With(out) Beards.
Enjoying a hefeweizen from Martin House while attending Hop Culture's Beer With(out) Beards.
Enjoying some Martin House Brewing while attending a online beer fest. Photo by JW Richard.

The virtual beer festival should become a part of the overall experience – even when we can physically gather again. Even with the upcoming vaccines for COVID-19, the likelihood of large-scale drinking events doesn’t appear safe for most people until at least 2022.

The virtual component can provide some of that connection and be a revenue stream. I’ve attended several virtual beer fests including Fresh Fest Digi Fest, Hop Culture, GABF and Texas Craft Brewers Festival. My four tips come from the perspective of making the experience better for virtual attendees. One tip is about the beer. The other three deal with the festival content.

About the Beer

Any special festival beer should be in the participant’s hands by the virtual festival date. Because of a myriad of laws that govern how beer can be shipped between U.S. states, it’s a challenge to send beer. However, if beers are going to made for the festival as an advertised part of the experience, then those beers should be able to be ordered and received by the festival date.

Be crystal clear about the beer details. If the beers can’t be shipped to specific states due to regulations in that state or with the shipper, make sure that’s understood upfront. Tell fest attendees the exact beers they will receive. If shipping is unavailable for any reason, always encourage attendees to support local breweries.

About the Festival Content

Publish the schedule in advance of the event. Virtual fest participants have lives, too. Having the full schedule before the event helps them plan their participation – especially if it’s going to be an all-day virtual event.

Save the Zoom meetings invites for panel participants only. Send general audiences to another video stream with live chat options. Bringing non-panel fest goers into your Zoom meeting can be a recipe for disruption and disaster for the panel and the viewers. Consider sending fest goers to YouTube, Facebook or use all-in-one services like Hopin. All of these have live chat features to help fest attendees connect with each other and your panels.

Tighten your virtual fest content options. Like publishing the event schedule in advance, this is about valuing the time of your attendees as they sit in front of a computer screen. No matter how much creativity you put into your pre-recorded videos (unless it’s a program intro or outro), they can be viewed at any other time. Participants came to experience a live event. Give them that. Focus on the best live experiences you can share.

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