New Zealand’s fledgling Ale Trail is getting high profile exposure in the country’s biggest city thanks to a “whole of industry” support initiative.
The New Zealand Brewers Guild launched the Ale Trail last year to promote beer tourism. Only Guild members appear on the interactive map, which doubles as a way of showing who won what at last year’s NZ Beer Awards.
With domestic tourism a huge focus in the post-Covid economy, the Ale Trail – with the tagline Come Thirsty For Adventure – is getting a big push thanks to a large Auckland billboard worth $24,000, thanks to glass bottle manufacturer O-I Glass is paying for the billboard.
“Literally, they are promoting it free for us for a month – there’s nothing it for them in return,” says Guild executive director Sabrina Kunz.
Kunz said the Guild is rapt with profile lift in their battle to get beer on the map with New Zealand tourism organisations.
“One of the reasons the Brewers Guild created the Ale Trail is that it was so difficult to find beer experiences in New Zealand – and we knew there was a strong appetite for them,” she said.
“On all our regional tourism organisation websites and newzealand.com, people have to click on ‘Food and Wine’ to find beer experiences.
Kunz says ‘food and wine’ plays a big part in Kiwi tourism promotions and beer experiences are under-represented or completely ignored.
To change that, the Guild formed a working group to come up with ways to lobby Tourism New Zealand and other regional operators to support beer tourism as part of their domestic campaigns. Those discussions prompted O-I to offer the billboard.
“When we were discussing this with our members and sponsors, O-I Glass said they’d like to support it. The message is partners participating in a collective push around beer tourism – that’s the headline.”
Bayard Sinnema of O-I said it was a simple proposition.
“ We love beer – especially when it’s local and comes in glass bottles that are made and recycled locally. Supporting the NZ Brewers Guild and the NZ craft breweries by promoting the Ale Trail was an easy decision; it’s absolutely aligns with everything O-I believes in, and something we are proud to champion.“
He confirmed the billboard was valued at $24,000 for the month.
There is a quid pro quo of sorts for O-I. A push for beer tourism is a push for beer and Kunz gives the example of a person visiting a taproom, having a great experience and buying a takeaway six-pack – potentially packaged in an O-I product.
And it appears all the lobbying is paying off with Kunz saying Tourism NZ has indicated it would change the “food and wine” link on its official newzealand.com to “food and beverage”.
The billboard is just the start of a campaign to build awareness of beer tourism, with the Guild is focused on reaching a wider audience than “craft beer geeks”
“Beer tourism is what our members want us to focus on,” Kunz says, “and we’ve seen new members join the Guild to get spots on the Ale Trail.”