The brewing industry is known as a collegiate one, and increasingly, breweries are enhancing their reach with visitors and influence with tourism bodies and governments by working together on ale trails.
But crafting an ale trail can be challenging, with multiple stakeholders, and very different brands operating on one project. As a result of this focus, one of the topics discussed by a panel at the WA Brewers Association’s Beer & Brewing conference last week was how to successfully craft an ale trail.
Hosted by Matt Kirkegaard, the panel included Claire Savage, founder and managing director of Savagely Creative, Josh Donohoe, founder of Sunshine Coast Craft Beer Tours and Sabrina Kunz, founder of NZ Ale Trail in her role as executive director of the Brewers Guild of New Zealand.
The first step in creating a successful trail is attracting visitors to regions, and as Donohoe explained, it’s a combined effort from the regions, as well as breweries themselves.
“Getting people to the region is the start,” Donohoe said.
“You have to get people to the region, so the region has to be doing a good job of getting people there, but including breweries as part of the reason to get people there.”
Working with local tourism and government bodies is one way to entice new visitors.
“Brewers are not inherently into tourism. They’re either great brewers, they’ve created great products, and they can also run an amazing venue, their headspace is not in tourism,” Donohoe reasoned.
“So to have someone come on board and take that off their plate and introduce them to that sector is huge.”
While it is beneficial to work with agencies invested in tourism, it should also be up to breweries to take on the responsibility, according to Savagely Creative’s Claire Savage.
“The ones that work the best, are the ones that come from the brewers themselves, and where they see an opportunity to work together,” she said.
“If you’re relying on government to make it work, it’s never going to work because government has priorities.”
Collaboration is key
Successfully delivering an ale trail requires collaboration between businesses, not just between breweries themselves. Savagely Creative’s Claire Savage explained the key is to find ways to diversify and present a unique proposition to visitors.
“When you’re looking at a destination, you need three things. You need density, diversity and uniqueness,” she said.
“If you’re one brewery, sitting on your own, people aren’t going to come to that region just to one thing unless you’re the most amazing of that thing.”
One way to do this is to link to other businesses, including accommodation, food vendors, as well as other breweries. Sabrina Kunz, founder of the NZ Ale Trail, said it’s about thinking beyond the trail and finding ways to market to a wider audience.
“The next step for a craft beer trail is: ‘come to the region for cycling and you can get from brewery to brewery by bike.’ So it’s actually linking with whatever the local region has,” she said.
“It’s not just thinking about a craft beer trail, it’s about all of those bits that you can do to find new consumers to bring them to your region for whatever the reason is.”
Listen below to the full panel discussion from the WA Beer & Brewing Conference which is proudly brought to you by Bintani Australia.