People love to host their own events in breweries. The only rule about turning your brewery into an event space is… there are no rules! All you need is a clear vision, and you can make it happen. If your brewery space is a blank slate and you don’t know where to begin, you’re in a great position to reinvent.
Here’s how to set up, promote, operate, and optimize your brewery to turn it into a bumping, thriving, profit-generating machine.
So you’ve got this beautiful room… now what? First remember that your event space can retain its original character, including that wonderful smell of hops – you’re a brewery, after all!
A room is just a room until it comes alive with flowers, furniture, art deco, and, of course, beer drinking patrons. Think of your space as a place that can welcome your guests and have them leaving with a sense of who you are when the event is over. What do you want your space to express?
Here’s what you need to do to prepare your space for an event.
1. Mock Up Floor Plans
First things first: determine your capacity and your needs. Here are a few questions to help you develop your floor plans.
How many people can the room fit comfortably standing?What about sitting? How many people can fit at round tables, square tables, or long tables?
Where should the band be positioned?
Are you going to be hosting speakers or a wedding? If so, where will they stand?
How will table service be divided among servers?
Where should the bar be positioned for optimal access?
Where will your dance floor be?
2. Create a List of Suppliers
From rustic wooden tables to old-fashioned dinner plates, each event patron will want to put their own spin on the space. While some clients might come in with a particular supplier in mind, many appreciate a list of trusted suppliers to help them with the many pieces of their event.
Look for suppliers who offer a variety of price points and styles, preferably ones you’ve worked with in the past and can vouch for. If it suits your vision and budget, you also might choose to have extra orders of standard plates and glasses on hand as a part of your venue’s event package.
Make supplier lists for the following services:
Lighting and sound
3. Choose Your Dining Option
Depending on your brewery, you may or may not have a fully functional kitchen. This leaves you with two considerations:
Food Vendors (No Kitchen): If you don’t have a kitchen, create relationships with various catering companies. Work with several so that you can rely on multiple trusted vendors who know your space and respect your vision.
Fixed Menu (With Kitchen): If you have a fully functional kitchen, create a prix fixe menu or an hors d’oeuvre selection from your standard items. Managing food volume is essential to determining the event’s pricing structure, and it puts less strain on the kitchen and service staff.
Now that you’ve got the groundwork laid out, it’s time to let people know the space exists. Your hope is that power of word of mouth will speak for itself, but until then you’ve got to promote, promote, promote!
Weddings, birthdays, showers, sporting groups, balls, galas, graduations, proms, you name it. Each event comes with its own set of logistics. You’ll need to decide which events you’ll host, which services you’ll provide, and which services your clients will need to source for themselves. You can create basic event packages that include the room, a beer quota, tables, and chairs, then a more customized package depending on your capacity.
Once you know which packages you can offer, you can start to promote them.
Of course your promo comes back to social media. Using Facebook and Instagram, you can use keywords and audience targeting to promote your venue to people who are most likely to be interested in your space.
For example, if you want to advertise your event space as a wedding venue, you can set up an ad on Instagram and Facebook that targets people by a) your geographic region and b) demographic information such as gender, age, etc. Then you can target by interests. Targeting by interest allows you to target your ad to people who have liked certain pages and expressed interest in various topics. So if you’re targeting a bride-to-be, target people who have liked a specific retailer like Kleinfeld Bridal to tap into your ideal audience.
You can also use behavior targeting to reach people based on their purchasing behavior, device usage, and other click-based activities. Say you’re marketing your space as a wedding reception venue. If someone is entering ‘wedding venues’ or ‘wedding dresses’ into their search engine, you can target your ad to them on Facebook.
Part of promoting your space is getting people in the space. By piggybacking on events that are already happening, like your city’s annual brewery crawl, you can get people in and feeling the space for themselves.
To do this in the most cost effective way, use a standing/seating method. Depending on your kitchen capacity, you may want to partner with a food truck to feed hungry bellies.
Operating the Space
New room, new rules. To ensure your new and current operations continue without a hitch with the addition of your event space, here are some operational enhancements you’ll want to consider:
Don’t underestimate the time and resources involved in managing events and – to put it nicely – clients with vision. You’ll want to make sure you have a few key people on hand to manage the new demands of your event space.
First, hire an event coordinator. This person is responsible for ensuring the event matches the client’s expectations and that everything runs smoothly on the day of the event. Beyond managing the client or working with the client’s event coordinator, your event coordinator is in charge of managing all communications and needs. They are an essential piece of running a smooth event and taking the burden off the rest of your staff and operations.
On the day of the event, the event coordinator is in charge of troubleshooting and ensuring that all the pieces are in place for a successful evening. They’ll also be in-charge of managing the pre- and post-event walkthrough, managing the event budget, security deposits, licences, and cleaners.
In the case of regular business operating in tandem with an event, additional service staff may be needed to service the event. Some breweries choose to use a third party to serve the event while others might use an “all-hands-on-deck” approach, scheduling their entire staff to work. This of course depends on your capacity and the amount of staff you currently employ.
Of course, no event happens without clearance of red tape and legal requirements. Depending on your state or province, legal needs will vary. Here are a some general regulations to consider when running an event space:
So you’ve got a space, a new event coordinator, and your marketing is launched and doing its job. Now how can you optimize your event operations? With technology, of course!
A Mobile Beer Bar
You need a way to serve your brew on the fly. With a mobile beer bar, you can move the bar around to best suit the layout of your event. Mobile beer bars are easy to set up and guarantee your brew will always be cold and easily accessed for consumption. You can also get mobile kegs, countertop beer dispensers, and client-regulated table beer towers depending on your clients’ needs.
A Best-in-Class POS
Death to the cash bar! Use a mobile POS to track and process orders. Event attendees can then start a tab or pay by card using mobile payments.
Event coordination is mired in minute details. When you start to run more and more events, you’ll need a workback schedule and task tracking to ensure all your boxes are checked. Software like Gather can help event coordinators organize a shared calendar and communicate updates, due dates, and tasks pending.
Now that you have the roadmap, it’s time to kick off your event space in style! With these tools, strategies, and resources, you’ll be up and running in no time.
Dana is the former Content Marketing Manager at TouchBistro, sharing tips for and stories of restaurateurs turning their passion into success. She loves homemade hot sauce, deep fried pickles and finding excuses to consume real maple syrup.