The world is beginning to creep towards a new-new normal, and we’re all craving adventure. One thing I didn’t realize was how much I missed talking to strangers. Over the pandemic, I’ve built friendships based on Zoom and separated by thousands of miles. These conversations filled the social void; however, despite acknowledging how much I missed seeing people face to face, I failed to realize the extent.
As brewery owners and managers, you were forced to find new ways to engage with your guests to maintain their relationships (and ultimately their dollar). You never stopped being experts at talking to strangers. Nothing against you, but your interactions with guests are only a small portion of the interactions taking place at your taproom. The more spontaneous and organic encounters are those happening between your guests.
I don’t know about you, but much of the past year I actively avoided talking to strangers. We have grown to, dare I say, appreciate the isolation from people we don’t know. But is this good for business?
No. It’s time to get those guest connections going again.
How can your brewery re-facilitating connections between guests?
By design – Offer places to sit closer together – With most states no longer having any social distancing requirements in place, bring back your German beer hall tables, cram 20 willing guests at the same table, and hope they strike up a few conversations. Once you reopen your bar seating, the act of “forcing” people to sit side by side will bring back a sense of normalcy. People are craving interaction and more communal seating will allow your guests to better connect.
By default – During the pandemic, the average party size was 3.02 guests. In “normal” times before March 2020, the average brewery visit represented 3.21 guests. A minor difference, but this results in about 20 extra people for every 100 parties. People will be a tad more likely to bump into one another.
By engaging with multiple guests at once – You should treat each guest as a unique experience, but as masters behind the bar, you’re capable of greeting and conversing with multiple guests at the same time. Facilitate conversations between guests over their love for beer or other general interests. Introduce them to one another. Be a host. Be an entertainer. Create that Cheers vibe and get the whole place excited to be there.
By hosting social events – Hosting an event can create interactions between guests in a couple different ways. Events often draw larger crowds, and larger crowds result in a greater probability of strangers bumping into each other. Events also can be social by design. Trivia night? Game nights? Live music? Post-pandemic speed dating? Beer fests? These events encourage interaction and/or conversation.
Why will it benefit you to encourage relationships between your guests?
Larger parties hang out longer. The more people involved in a conversation, the more time they will spend in your taproom.
Larger parties spend more. The larger the party, the more time they spend, and the more beer they buy. The data below represents the number of guests in a party that came together. However, I believe the same impact occurs when guests form unexpected parties with fellow taproom goers.
It is already your goal to create a positive and welcoming space. This starts at the top, runs through your staff, and radiates to everyone who encounters your brand. Let this continue to radiate from guest to guest.
Creating friendships between your guests facilitates an added level of stickiness for your taproom. People like to buy beer from people they like, and they like to drink it with people they enjoy. I’m looking forward to getting back out there even more and bonding with even more strangers. Although I’m not quite ready to let someone else take a sip from my beer…