The virtual beer festival should become a part of the overall experience – even when we can physically gather again. Even with vaccines for COVID-19 rolling out, large-scale drinking events won’t seem safe for most people until at least 2022.
The virtual component can provide some of that connection and be a revenue stream. In 2020, I attended and enjoyed the virtual Fresh Fest (now renamed Barrel and Flow 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 for your Virtual Festival
Any special festival beer should be in the participant’s hands by the virtual festival date. Because of a myriad of laws between U.S. states, it’s a challenge to send beer. However if beers can be shipped, then they 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, 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 their local breweries.
ON Planning YouR CONTENT SCHEDULE
Publish the schedule in advance of the event. Virtual fest participants have lives, too. Having the full schedule before the event helps viewers plan their participation.
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 for the panel and the viewers. Consider sending fest goers to a live video shown on 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. This is about valuing the time of your attendees as they sit in front of a computer screen. In this case, less is more. No need to throw the kitchen sink at them in terms of content. Focus on the best live experiences you can share.