Rhode Island Craft Beer Week, a festive statewide celebration of local breweries and beer organized by the Rhode Island Brewers Guild, proved to be a smashing success, drawing thousands of curious craft beer lovers to special promotions, tastings, contests, concerts, and more at the guild’s 36 member breweries as well as at participating restaurants, bars, and liquor stores. Contributing to the high levels of excitement and public engagement in Craft Beer Week—and enabling the guild and its member breweries to quantify and better understand participant engagement—was one of the guild’s most powerful tools, the Rhode Island Brewers Guild Passport app.
The mobile loyalty app, created for the RI Brewers Guild by Boca Raton, Florida-based software developers Daruma Tech, allows users to find participating breweries near them, see their current taproom offerings and promotions, create and map out tours of their favorite breweries, and earn points towards branded merch and other prizes from participating breweries by checking in with the app at member breweries. The app’s leaderboard of top participants fosters further excitement and community building. Participating breweries can also engage both longtime fans and new visitors by posting information about special events, promotions, and offerings on their dedicated pages on the app.
Participants in RI Craft Beer Week quickly realized the app offered not only a free and easy way to keep up with all the week’s activities, but a strong motivator to visit new breweries and actively immerse themselves in the week’s festivities. During Craft Beer Week, the app recorded 869 individual check-ins at Rhode Island breweries, many of which included user comments about the breweries, the beers they tasted, and their Craft Beer Week experience. And because app users can see each other’s comments, these comments drew even more curious visitors into the state’s taprooms. In addition, several participants used the app to take on—and win—the Rhode Trip Challenge, a contest to see who could visit and check into every open Rhode Island Brewery during Craft Beer Week, 35 in total.
One enthusiastic winner of the challenge was RJ Provençal. “The thing I loved most about craft beer week was the challenge,” he said. “I was determined to hit them all, and with some serious dedication and some very full days I did just that! I also love supporting local breweries, especially those I don’t frequent, so I loved that this gave me a reason to visit some I hadn’t been to in quite some time! Overall, it was a lot of fun and would definitely do again!” Trevor Utley, another winner, was equally enthusiastic. “Plotting out my routes for the week was challenging but well worth it,” he said. “I got to meet new folks along the way and reconnect with ones I don’t see nearly often enough. Hopefully, I can go 3-for-3 next year!”
Brewers were also thrilled by the added foot traffic and crowds of new faces drawn into their breweries by the contest and other Craft Beer Week promotions. “RI Craft Beer Week was a blast! We had a lot of familiar faces, and many newcomers,” said Dianna David, co-owner of Smug Brewing in Pawtucket, RI. “Our family fun days were also very well attended!” Tamara McKenney, BrewEO of Apponaug Brewing in Warwick RI, concurred. “Great crowds and definitely some new customers,” she said.
Breweries also appreciate how the app offers them free exposure to potentially thousands of new customers with an active interest in craft beer, said Gary Richardson, former executive director of the Rhode Island Brewers Guild. Breweries in the guild can have their own pages on the app and control all their content—from taproom offerings to photos to event schedules—themselves. In contrast, other popular forms of promotion in the industry, such as craft beer festivals, require a significant financial outlay or donation of beer.
For Susan Erickson of Daruma Tech, all of this confirms the Rhode Island Brewers Guild Passport app is working exactly as intended. “It was designed to give consumers a seamless and fun experience when traveling and shopping, and it did just that,” she said. “But its bigger goal is to support small businesses and encourage shoppers to choose local businesses they might not have known about over big box options. And based on what we’ve seen from Rhode Island Craft Beer Week, it worked just as we and the Rhode Island Brewers Guild had wanted.”
For more information, contact Rick Griswold: 561-990-1625.