Friday, February 20, 2009

PBW 2009: How do we measure success?

(There could be an instant reaction to label me a pessimistic, flame-fanning naysayer. That's not it all. Just some interesting conversations that I've been in recently where questions have been raised that I now raise to you.) Over the past month or so, I've had numerous one-off conversations on both Coasts with bartenders, owners, brewers, and consumers regarding the perceived size of Philly Beer Week (SF Beer Week, as well). Though, as beers went down, the number of answers that we had didn't necessarily go up. Perhaps there are no right answers to these questions? Take, for example... > Has success in 2009 been accomplished in that last year we (Philly) had in the neighborhood of 200 events and this year we've almost tripled that number? San Francisco's had close to 150 events in this, their freshman, year. Should they expect that they can at least double this number next year? And, if so, will it be considered a success as well? > Is success measured in the shear, raw number of "events" and who measures (and how) what constitutes an event? > Who's keeping score? In other words, did 10 people or 100 people attend last night's Meet The Brewer at XYZ Bar and how do we consider whether either number is acceptably successful? If 20 people attended the beer dinner at ABC Restaurant, but they were all well-seasoned beer connoisseurs, was the event a success? Or is success measured more in how many new craft beer enthusiasts are created out of Beer Week? > Speaking of new craft beer enthusiasts, I think that this may be the one question for which we came to a conclusion. The question of high-end beer dinners at venues without historically solid beer lists. Places like Scala's Bistro in San Francisco and The Four Seasons in Philly. I understand that a main objective is to introduce beer to a new clientele that may not be as savvy regarding better beer. But, wouldn't it be nice if these establishments already were dabbling a bit in the stuff at the bar? We can only hope that the turnout will encourage them to do so in the future. > If I go to 22 events as I did last during last year's PBW, does that count as 22 visitors to Philly Beer Week? Is average number of event visits per unique visitor a measurement of success? > If an establishment lists "burger week" on the PBW calendar, does that count as 10 events? In other words, when is something an event and when is it merely an advertisement? (sorry, I couldn't resist one peeve) Keep these questions in mind as you make your way through Philly Beer Week. Better yet, let me know now what you think of these questions; Comment Below. Do you care? Does it matter? Or is simply having access to this many "events" sign enough of success for you? Afterall, marketing is a lot of what this is about, right? As you head into Philly Beer Week with an "approach", my recommendation is two-fold and the same as last year: (1) Make sure to find some events that are off the beaten path where you're not as likely to run into the mass beer geekerie and (2) Take along at least one person with you whose experience with craft beer is significantly less than yours. Oh, and if the event you go to is not exactly teeming with beer event pomp, make sure to mention to the bartender, manager, brewer, or owner that you are there specifically for the event. Let's make this thing successful.

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