Monday, June 28, 2010

Philly Beer Week 2010: Contemplations, Conversations, Ruminations, and an occasional Diatribe: Part 6

(This is the sixth in a series of ten installments documenting both my time during Philly Beer Week 2010 and insights provided to me by customers, importers/distributors/representatives, brewers, brewery owners, publicans, et cetera. All of whom wanted their comments to be aired, but very few who wanted their name associated with them. Some of you may not appreciate the anonymity, but that's the way it needs to be if we're going to talk about these things around here. You'll need to trust in me that I've gathered up all of these notes and opinions during PBW '10 and am sharing them with you in order to continue the conversation about what will make a better Philly Beer Week 2011.) Click back to see the fifth in the series. Click forward to see the seventh in the series. What do 1,000 beer events in 10 days look like? I'll argue for the third year that it does not include a fixed-price dinner scheduled to be available during all of a restaurant's open hours for 10 days. Or a happy hour with dollar-off beer specials that you carry every other day of the year. I'd even argue that it's barely a meet-the-brewer event where an importer/distributor/sales rep shows up instead of the owner/brewer...sometimes it is, but usually not. What was the most common response (almost always the first response) when I asked everyone 'how are you doing this fine Philly Beer Week?', 'what have you been doing...finding?', 'are you having fun?'...et cetera. The answer almost always included: "1,000 events is too many." Too many for a consumer to plan around. Too many for establishments to manage (some had as many as three in one day). Too many to distinguish many from one another. Too many such that multiple reports of brewers being double-, even triple-, booked were disappointing and unacceptable. Too many that many events were either not attended or under-attended (did you read the comment in last week's City Paper that London Grill did not get a single attendee for its Boon Brewery event, yes....Boon...no one.) In addition to the week of PBW move from March to June, Cannibalization was the oft-quoted reason for disappointing turnout to many events. My own running event last year attracted 60 runners. This year, the number was around 25. Part of the reason was the nasty June weather, part of the reason was personal calendar conflicts, and part of the reason, I'm convinced, was cannibalization...by events that pulled people in different directions. I thought I was fatigued last year looking through 600+ events on the calendar. That was nothing compared to all of the distracting "non-events" cluttering up the calendar this year. Police it? Wow, I sure would hope it does not come to that..but something needs to be done. Quality, not quantity. I'd tell you which "principals" said that in 2008, but I said I wouldn't attach names in this Series. Are you someone who thinks more equals more equals better? Your thoughts, if you will? Coming tomorrow...we'll dive a bit deeper into how Philly Beer Week events are planned

5 comments:

Andrew said...

Well said! I attached similar sentiments to my PBW survey as well.

Gerard said...

Ryan and I met Frank Boon at London Grill.
Yes we were the only two people there; but two more than zero.
-Gerard

John Doherty said...

Brian,

What I did is go through the spreadsheet you put together and broke it out into two parts (first six days was part one)and sent an e-mail to a few friends of what looks great to me. Actually it was more for myself to refer to later.
That was a lot of work in itself! That is how I deal with the many "non-events".

A couple observations:

I saw the fatigue on the face at 10:30 PM of a well known owner/brewer from out of the area who was on his 3rd or 4th event of the day and just walked into his final bar of the night not knowing if he will get out before 2:00AM. He told me how tired he was.

I was hanging out three folks from Belgium: 1) Marco Passarella, 2) Nathalie Eloir, and 3) Michael Pelsser at Monks and that was a fun well attended event, then I followed them to St. Stephens Green (Marco asked me to join them). I did not see one person who showed up for this event at St. Stephens.

Chris Clair said...

The thing that worries me is if the venues that put on the best/most events feel the need to up the ante each year to a point where they finally say enough and drop out all together. Why go to the trouble when there are "events" like you said, regular happy hours? I know I end up visting my favorite spots even if there wasn't an event just because it was a favorite spot and I was in the area. So why should they feel pressured to do something crazy if they are going to get overflow? I hope there is no big crash in events but it also wouldn't surprise me.

All things in moderation. Except for sanitation. ;-)

Bryan Kolesar said...

Love your last comment Chris :) Is it trademarked or is that your original?