– By Ben Cober, director of business development and research
(Oktoberfest 2016 in Leavenworth, WA)
In our latest issue of Destinology, The Fight for Attendance: The Attraction of the Non-Attraction, we explored the success of impermanent attractions such as festivals, sporting events, tabletop games, streaming television, and exercise, and offered tactics for destination managers to adopt some of these strengths.
However, as with every issue of Destinology, numerous insights and studies get left on the cutting room floor. In this post, I’ll present some of the additional research we uncovered as it relates to food and drink festivals (and share some of my favorites as well)!
Whether it’s dining on deconstructed donuts or sipping sumptuous cider, or doing both while singing along to your favorite chorus, the “festival boom” in America is alive and well. A recent report by Eventbrite witnessed a 47% increase in the number of food and beverage events between 2013 and 2014. Unsurprisingly, Millennials are at the epicenter of the flood of festivals. 80% of Millennials attended at least three food, wine, or beer festivals last year; 44% attended five or more; and 67% say it’s one of their favorite things to do.
And why shouldn’t they? Festivals embody so much of what Millennials love: spending time with friends, enjoying music and alcohol, highly-sharable unique experiences, a community of like-minded fans, escapism, and contributing to grassroots artists and local economies. Eight in 10 Millennials say they want to know more about how their food is produced than brands typically disclose: 55% of Millennials attended beer festivals to meet the brewers, while 42% attended a food festival to meet the chefs.
From the Cutting Floor:
White Hutchinson (WH) published the results of a fantastic study in the summer of 2015 investigating this Millennial-driven phenomenon. Half of Millennials refer to themselves as “foodies,” while 78% of them would prefer to spend money on an experience rather than a materialistic want (a common trend we’ve been seeing for years in this generation). More than half of them state they’re spending more on events than ever before; and nearly all (97%) of Millennials who attended a food or beverage festival in 2014 planned to attend the same or more festivals the following year – 80% said they had attended three or more.
Social media was cited as the number one way Millennials found out about these events, followed by word-of-mouth. But don’t rely on Facebook to promote events to this demographic. In eMarketer’s Feb. 2018 study, many of the platform’s younger generations are emigrating from Facebook to other sites like Snapchat.
Authenticity-craving Millennials are also most-drawn to craft beer festivals, with 47% noting that they were their #1 choice among events, higher than any other demographic studied.
When finding the ticket price sweet spot, beyond considering eliminating hidden fees and buyer-bots, around half of Millennials were willing to spend $35-$50 per ticket.
Food and beverage events continue to grow in popularity, and implementing strategic ways to host these events at your attraction, collecting guest feedback, and improving upon them could help broaden your offerings and strengthen brand commitment from your guests, members, and community!