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I Asked Every NRL Club Why I Should Become A Member…..Here Are The Responses

The NRL season is back soon and along with my fellow NRL and rugby league fans, I am pumped to be getting back out to games at a time when the game seems to be even bigger than ever…..but maybe it’s just Tina Turner singing in the background. Anyway…..

In an effort to see why I should become a member of an NRL club and what benefits each team offered their fans for the 2020 season, I sent an email under the alias Jack Gilmore (a combination of two of my favourite fictional film sports characters in Jackie Moon from Semi-Pro and Happy Gilmore from Happy Gilmore) to ask a couple of questions and see how teams would reply. (Note: Having worked with the majority of clubs in some capacity, I used an alias because if I used my real name they’d have caught on straight away and I wanted to get 100% honest and genuine replies).

I wanted to see the following:

  • Who responded the quickest
  • Who didn’t respond at all. Hopefully, they’d all reply. Every team needs every fan to sign up to increase memberships.
  • Why I should become a member of each club and who answered the specific question ‘Why Should I Become A Member of your club’
  • What benefits were included in memberships compared to others across the NRL
  • Who was persistent and followed up by trying to get the membership and sale finalized 
  • Who came across as genuine and authentic rather than an auto-reply response

Here are the results:

National Rugby League:

  • 11 of the 16 teams I emailed had replied with responses at the time of writing this blog post on Wednesday morning 4/3/2020.
  • Six teams replied with automatic responses within one minute of my email (these were Newcastle, NZ, Melbourne, Parramatta, Brisbane, and Gold Coast) with four of these following up afterward with more detailed responses. This was a simple way to both illustrate that the team had received the email, that the fan would get a reply soon and that they immediately received confirmation that their request was being actioned.
  • The Storm and Knights didn’t follow up on their initial emails saying they’d get back to me though which is fine as you’d assume that more than likely a fan would follow up with the auto-reply.
  • Not a single club sent a follow-up email when I had not responded within a week so it would be interesting to see how persistent they are before getting back to these potential fans to try to sign them up closer to the season start date. You have to be persistent. 
  • Only 8 of 16 actually bothered to answer my question about why I should support the team. Listening is vital. 

Response Times:

I sent an email out to every team’s membership email account at 10am on Tuesday the 25th of February which stated:

“Hello, 

I’m looking at becoming a member this year having recently relocated back home. 

Just a GA seat, one seat for me, cheapest, please.

What is the best reason to become a member of the club and why should I bother? 

Any incentives, deals, promos? What do you guys do for me as a member that’s good? 
Can you send me any details on membership packs and what I get in them too, please?
Thanks”

At the time of writing this on 4/3/2020, of the 16 teams I wrote to using their membership emails, only 11 of the clubs responded to my email asking about becoming a member.

I followed up with an email to the five who didn’t respond on Wednesday morning 4 March seeking to see about a reply to my initial email. It’s totally understandable that these emails can fall through the cracks but for someone wanting to sign up it’s imperative that this happens infrequently so as to avoid a potential lost sale and membership.

By Wednesday afternoon I had heard back from two more clubs so 13 of the 16 had responded by Wednesday afternoon.

Of the 11 teams who responded after my initial email:

  • Fastest response: 11 minutes from Parramatta. Brilliant.
  • 6 responded within 42 minutes
  • 8 responded on the same day
  • 10 responded within 1 day and a few hours
  • 8 actually answered the question I asked about why it’s worth becoming a member and why I should do that

I guess what was one thing that was interesting was that of the six teams who followed up instantly with automatic replies saying they’d get back to me ASAP, two of those (Melbourne and Newcastle) didn’t actually respond until I wrote back to them and then they did which was great to see.

An important thing to note is that I don’t think fans should expect a reply straight away and the clubs made mention of this in the automatic replies that they’d respond in one to two days. However, it is absolutely vital that all enquiries are actioned and the loop is closed sufficiently by replying to either get the fan over the line and bag the sale/membership and/or to collect the data (name/email) to follow up with at a later point when trying again whether that is next week, month or season. They’ve reached out to you and are halfway towards a sale. 

The following is the time the team responded along with the total time from

Lessons:

  • It is vital to follow up with everyone who contacts your business. And then follow up again….and again. Not harassing them and certainly not when they’ve told you to stop but you have to be persistent. Sometimes it’s a long game. They have made the effort to engage with you which means they are halfway there to a sale.
  • It’s great to have an automatic reply but if you don’t follow up these are pointless.
  • Being genuine and authentic will lead to a sale. The responses below where the membership team person went out of their way to tell me why I should sign up actually enticed me to think about doing just that if I lived locally to those clubs.
  • Answering the question that is asked cuts down time for both parties back and forth, gives the person what they’re after and highly likely leads to a sale as they have all the information to make an informed buying decision.
  • Asking to call or grab a number is important. The more info you can collect the better but also the chances of a sale are higher if you can speak to a person and state your case effectively and clearly in person or over the phone.
  • Never be afraid to upsell or talk about add-on’s and trying to sell other items. Sometimes the customer/fan doesn’t know what’s available and you might just have an even better deal for them plus bringing in more selling points leads to more sales. I was surprised that no one bothered to talk about hospitality or merchandise or try to push me with upselling to get even more bang for my buck (although perhaps that’s where they did listen as I mentioned I only wanted the cheapest GA ticket)
  • Not many asked me questions about my motivations for buying. That’s important as it can answer a lot of questions to round out a sale.
  • All in all, what a bargain these NRL memberships are! I can’t wait to get out to the grounds in 2020. 
  • I’d love to have seen the Tigers, Sharks and Panthers replies too however these memberships are available in the links if anyone wants to view them. They are equally impressive too. 
  • If you’re an NRL member sign up to your club and support the game. NRL has never been in a better position and as a hardcore fan myself I am pumped to be getting back out to the grounds.

Responses:

The following are the responses from each club along with some notes.

Parramatta Eels

Thank you for your email.

That’s great to hear you are interested in becoming a member!

I highly recommend our General Admission membership as I will list below what you receive in it.

Note: if you buy a full season general admission adult pass you receive a free junior up to the age of 18.

General Admission (11 games): unreserved

Adult: $200

Concession: $190

Junior: Free with full paying adult or $100 for an extra junior

Family: $400

Members pack:

Adult:

  • Cap
  • Keyring
  • Lanyard
  • Sticker set

Junior:

  • Lanyard
  • Sticker set
  • Junior cap

As being a 2020 member, you will also receive a range of benefits such as:

  • Integrated game day public transport
  • Access to the brand-new members offers program
  • Access to Members Lounge ’47
  • Access to Members’ loyalty program, including Member Loyalty Events
  • Access to cash-back member seat resale program (Reserved Seat Members only)
  • 10% discount off selected Eels home game tickets
  • BONUS! 15% discount at the Eels Online Store
  • Priority buying window for all Eels home games
  • Priority buying window for NRL major events
  • Member Event Invitations
  • Member-first club communication

I hope this helps you understand the way our memberships work in more detail.

Notes:

  • Super fast response
  • Loaded with info on memberships and inclusions
  • Actually sounds like the best membership to sign up to as well given all the benefits. Parra fans have it good there.

New Zealand Warriors

Thank you for your e-mail and we appreciate all of your support and interest in becoming a member for the 2020 season! We are eager for the upcoming 2020 season as the boys have been training extremely hard and are all in for a great season ahead, so we’d love to have you on board during this exciting time! The following options would be your General Admission memberships for the season and I’ve included the benefits that you receive as a member-

The Interchange (general admission) Membership Options are as follows-

–              Either 5, 9 or 18-ticket General Admission passes

                Full Season –  Flexi 5 game  ($85 in total)  

                                         Flexi 9 game  ($144 in total)                                                                                              

                                         Flexi 18 game ($270 in total)                                                       

–              Can spread all games across the season or use all at once with your friends and family

–              An adult membership pack which includes a CCC member’s cap, Vodafone Warriors bumper sticker, 2020 memberships pass and lanyard

–              Access to members-only online newsletter

–              Access to the members’ clubroom

–              10% ticket discount to Vodafone Warriors regular season home games at Mt Smart

–              10% merchandise discount at our super store or online at www.warriorsstore.co.nz

–              Second-priority ticketing access to NRL Finals and State of Origin

If you are able to attend every home game at Mt Smart Stadium, I would consider the Flexi 9 option for $144 for the season. Alternatively, if you needed a bit more flexible of an option and you are not able to attend all of the home games I’d suggest the Flexi 5 option for $85. If you plan on bringing someone else along to every game with you I’d consider the Flexi 18 for $270.

Thanks again Jack and please let me know if you have any other questions and I’d be happy to help.

Notes:

  • Provided options
  • Added a link
  • Added info on membership inclusions
  • Fantastic answer as to why I should sign on as a member

St. George Illawarra Dragons

Thanks for your email and interest in becoming a Red V Member.

Membership is the highest commitment a supporter can make to their club – which we reward for your direct financial contribution. All members would receive exclusive benefits including the best value for home game tickets and away ticket offers, discounts on Dragons merchandise, exclusive access to meet the team through member events, and chances to win member experiences and prizes! You can read more about our member benefits here.

Currently, all members who sign up by the 2nd March will be included on our annual Red V Member Wall. The yearly designed wall will show the names of all members who have signed up prior to that deadline and will be displayed at all Dragons home games and selected member events. Members will also receive exclusive access to an Anzac Day ticket pre-sale next week with 20% off tickets (along with existing 20% off all Dragons home game tickets) and a pre-sale for the NRL Grand Final later in March!

For information and images regarding your membership pack, please click here.

You would have multiple options regarding a GA seat – it would depend on how many games you’d get to throughout the year. Your options would include:

Flexi 3 GA for $70: Access to 3 Dragons home games between Kogarah or Wollongong

Wollongong Pass GA for $135: Access to 6 Dragons home games at Wollongong

Kogarah Plus GA for $135: Access to 5 Dragons home games at Kogarah and 1 at the SCG for Anzac Day

Full Season GA for $240: Access to all 12 Dragons home games

Let us know if you had any further questions.

Notes:

  • Provided a very good response to my question about why I should get a membership
  • Added a link to memberships
  • Provided different options
  • All members signed up before 2/3 also had the chance to be on the REDV wall too.

Sydney Roosters

Thank you for your email. Great to hear you are interested in becoming a Member.

Our coach Trent Robinson describes our Members as the foundation of our club. The support from our Members by turning up to games and paying Membership fees plays a big role in the club’s success.

If you are interested in general admission seating, the Bronze Membership is your best choice. The Membership costs $150, which includes access to 10 home games (8x SCG, 1 Gosford, 1 North Sydney Oval), which is a significant saving in comparison to purchasing a GA ticket ($30/game pre-sale) to every home game. As a Member, you can also purchase tickets with a 10% discount at Central Coast and 30% at SCG home games so that it is also more affordable to bring family and friends with you to games.

The bronze Membership is counted as a Ticketed Membership, which includes receiving your Membership card, lanyard, keyring, stickers and fixture magnet, and a coupon so that you can collect your choice of a cap, scarf or can cooler at a home game, Members BBQ, or from the Spring St entrance at Easts Leagues.

To purchase the Bronze Membership, please visit: https://am.ticketmaster.com/roosters/bronze-membership#/

Alternatively you can call us on 1300 327 871 to purchase your Membership.

Notes:

  • Answered my question about why its good to become a member
  • Provided link to the membership
  • Provided info on what’s included in membership packs

Canberra Raiders

Thanks for your email. Please use the link below to find all our exclusive member benefits for season 2020. Due to a large influx of members this year we recommend purchasing your membership at some point today in order to ensure that you receive a membership pack.

https://www.raiders.com.au/membership/packages/full-season/bronze-general-admission/

We hope to see you as part of the Raiders family in season 2020.

Notes:

  • Provided a link to memberships

Brisbane Broncos

It is great to hear you are looking to become a member with us for the 2020 season!

With regard to your requirements, were you looking at a full season membership or possibly a 4 game membership?

A great reason to become a member with us this year is that we strongly believe 2020 will be a massive year for the boys on the field, and we think it’s not one to be missed. Aside from that though by becoming a member for 2020 you also gain access to a myriad of benefits which include; discounted home game tickets through Ticketek for family and friends, pre-sale access to NRL finals games involving us, access to discounts in our Team Store, plus access to offers from our many sponsors and partners.

By also becoming a member you have access to exclusive member content via our Member Mail email which is sent to you each week. This content also includes member only competitions that you can enter which gives you access to prizes and experiences that non-members and fans can’t get.

For more information on all of our membership packages you can head to our membership website via the link here. If you would like to discuss any of our options as well you can certainly give us a call anytime

Notes:

  • Answered the question quite well and got me excited for the season ahead.
  • Provided heaps of information and a membership link
  • Told me about membership incentives and information like competitions and merch
  • A side note on this. I bought my Broncos membership for 2020 last week and they were equally switched on to helping me out as they were to helping old mate ‘Jack’ out lol. 

North Queensland Cowboys

Hey Jake,

I have link below our Gold Star Unreserved Membership, which is our GA product.

Feel free to have a look over the inclusion and if you have any questions let me know

https://www.cowboys.com.au/membership/packages/full-season/gold-star-unreserved/

Notes:

  • Far out, I love the Cowboys and can’t wait to get up to the new stadium for the opening game but….
  • They got my fake name wrong! haha this actually made me laugh so kudos for that.

  • A few grammatical errors but who cares really about these at least they responded!

  • Didn’t tell me why it’d be great to support the team or any benefits

  • Provided a link to memberships which was useful to look over and get excited about.

  • The most glaring omission is the fact that YOU HAVE A BRAND NEW STADIUM TO TELL ME ABOUT BUT MADE NO MENTION OF IT! A key thing a fan would want to know about. 

  • Still, these things happen and no doubt they are under the pump with the brand new stadium and doing a superb job in getting everything ready for the opening game. As a proud North Queenslander supporter, I still bought a jersey this year too. Up the Cowboys!

Manly Sea Eagles

We have GA Memberships for $205 for the season. This includes all 10 Lottoland home games.

The way our GA seating works is on a first come first served basis, so you would need to secure your own seat.

With this specific pack you have the option of receiving either a cap, beanie or scarf, as well as a Member card, lanyard, sticker and keyring.

One of the best benefits is the cost. A Membership works out much cheaper than purchasing tickets game by game.

In addition to this your receive a 10% discount on merchandise, pre-sale access to different Rugby Leagues events such as NRL finals and Origin. We also hold Member only events throughout the season too, such as our Members Christmas BBQ where all players are in attendance 

That is kind of our Membership in a nutshell, I guess most importantly though it’s the best way to support the Club that you follow!

Please see the link below for additional information about the specific pack it sounds would be most suitable for you:

https://www.seaeagles.com.au/membership/packages/general-admission/the-47s-general-admission/

Another thing to note, is we also have 3 or 5 game GA Memberships if you don’t think you’ll make all 10 games.

Notes:

  • Provided extra info and insights
  • Provided link to membership
  • Told me why its good to support the club
  • Talked about the benefits
  • Told me what incentives and inclusions are in the packs

Gold Coast Titans

Thank you for reaching out to the Membership Team upon your move back home!

If you’re looking to attend home games this year at Cbus Super Stadium, having a Membership with the club is the best financial option in which to do so and you receive an exclusive Member’s cap and pack. In addition to this, if you wish to purchase additional tickets you receive a 15% Member’s discount, an invitation to exclusive member events, free public transport on game-day, a Parkwood Social Membership, and free feeder club entry, amongst other benefits.

We’d love to have you onboard for our fight in 2020 so please see below for a link to the packages:

GA Membership:

https://am.ticketmaster.com/goldcoasttitans/Packages/generaladmission#/

If you have any further questions please don’t hesitate to respond to this email or alternatively give us a call via our hotline as we’d be more than happy to help.

I look forward to hearing from you soon!

Notes:

  • Provided membership link
  • Answered question about the cheapest option
  • Told me why it’s good to be a member

South Sydney

Thank you for contacting the South Sydney Rabbitohs.

I have attached the link with details of the General Admission Member Pack https://membership.rabbitohs.com.au/general-admission/.

This Membership is a Full Season Member Pass, meaning that you will have access to all Rabbitohs NSW Home Games Plus Reciprocal Away Games and pick your seat in our General Admission Seating each Match. 

-You will receive a Cap/Scarf (Member’s Choice Item)

-Membership Card

-Bumper Sticker

-Fixture Magnet

-Lanyard

-$20 online merchandise voucher

-10% off Rabbitohs Merch

-Rabbitohs Rewards Pass

-Exclusive Sponsor Offers

-Entry to the 2020 Member’s Tipping Competition

-Access to P&O Member’s Deck at post-match functions

-Choose from a selection of players on your Member card

Scroll through the link to view these items visually.

If you don’t think you are going to be present at all the Home Games, we do have the option of purchasing a Flexi 3 or 5 game Membership which will grant you access to either 3 or 5 Home Games depending on what suits you best.

Please let me know if I can be of further assistance.

Notes:

  • Provided merch info and inclusions in the membership pack
  • Provided link to the memberships
  • Didn’t tell me why I should support the team

Canterbury

Thank you for contracting the Bulldogs Membership Team.

That’s good to hear mate  that you are interested in becoming a Bulldogs Membership for the 2020 season.

We are only a couple of days out from our first game of the season and the Club and teams need you and your support for the 2020 season.

Our cheapest General Admission membership is the Blue Zone membership for $145.

The following link contains all the information regarding the Blue zone membership: https://www.bulldogs.com.au/membership/packages/general-admission/blue-zone/

Could you please give me a day and time that suits you best so I can give you a call to renew your membership for 2020?

If you have any questions please feel free to give us a call back on 1300 769 164 or simply respond to this email.

Notes:

  • Provided a membership link
  • Provided a number to call
  • Provided the cheapest option
  • Answered question about membership
  • Asked to follow up with me with a call

Melbourne Storm 

Thank you for your email

Below is a link to our membership packages

https://www.melbournestorm.com.au/membership/packages/

What is your best contact number to call you on regarding this

Looking forward to hearing back from you

Notes:

  • Asked to call me to follow up which was good to see. A genuine call gets a higher chance of a sale every time.
  • Linked in info on membership info
  • Didn’t answer the question about why I should become a member of the Storm but would likely do that over phone

Newcastle Knights

He is a link to our membership website https://knightshub.com.au/membership/, here you will be able to browse the different memberships we have on offer and choose what best suits you. Each of our membership offers discounts on merchandise and ticketing on top of the membership pack that you will receive.

The greatest part about becoming a member is showing your support and becoming a part of a club you feel passionate about.

Please let me know if I can help you with anything further.

Kind regards,

Notes:

  • Answered the question quite well here
  • Provided links and info

Cronulla

  • No response to the initial email
  • No response to follow up email

Penrith

  • No response to the initial email
  • No response to follow up email

Wests Tigers

  • No response to the initial email
  • No response to follow up email

A note on Cronulla, Penrith and Wests Tigers. Even if these three caught on that this wasn’t a real member inquiry the fact that the vast majority are all cut and paste automatic reply emails means it doesn’t take much effort to just reply. The emails have no doubt fallen into the spam, opened and closed or just forgotten about folder. Even after I bothered to follow up with another email. However, whatever the case if you’re a fan of these clubs and myself having done their games days, I’d still 100% sign up for a membership of these clubs as they’re all doing exceptional things in the community and on game days. Plus….suburban grounds, gotta love that!

 

My Year In Beer: Beers, Ideas, Lessons and Visit Tips From 51 Brewery Experiences in 2019

My year in beer for 2019 has come and gone and while I’ve had a very enjoyable year working in beer (have a read of this article here on my experience working in the craft beer industry) I’ve also had a very satisfying time getting out and about to check out as many craft breweries as I can on my travels.

It’s been rewarding to meet the hard-working people behind the breweries and to try and learn as much as I can about the industry as well as just sample their tasty brews as well as try and get more people and my mates into drinking better quality beer and supporting these local Aussie indie brewers and businesses. 

The industry has so much positivity and enthusiasm from the talented insiders and passionate fans alike who like me love elements such as the tinnie art, talking to the people at the breweries, traveling for beer tourism and beer road trips, collecting too much beer gear merch, learning about the sustainability and environmental approaches as well as experimenting with all the different and diverse flavours and aromas of the brews while at the same time supporting local Aussie businesses. Honestly, how good does it make you feel!

I quickly thought I’d put a bit of a blog post together that both wraps up my year in beer travels as well as provides some insights, ideas, lessons and also some tips for anyone planning on visiting some of these specific breweries listed below. Please feel free to touch base if you’re after any travel tips for these breweries as I’d be happy to help.  Thanks for reading. Enjoy this with a cold brew and bring on 2020.

Key Facts:

  • 51 breweries
  • 49 independent craft breweries
  • 4 states and 1 territory
  • Queensland 10
  • Victoria 20
  • Tasmania 7
  • Western Australia 7
  • New South Wales 6
  • 1 Beervana Festival
  • 1 New Zealand brewery
  • Beers consumed: Lost count. 
  • Best beers: 3 Ravens Pine Lime Creamsicle and T-Bone Brewing Peanut Butter Stout. Too many to list.
  • Best experiences: Felons for the view, Moon Dog World for the crazy set up, Stomping Ground for the beer notes and unique kids play area and Two Bays for giving me a job! Again, too many to list. 

Lessons, Ideas and Insights:

  • Merch. Some really unique, on-trend and new stuff this year from socks to cord caps, canimals to well-designed growlers and enamel pins to beer vouchers. I wrote this blog a few months back about beer merch too that’s worth a look. 
  • Merch stands. Having a colorful, vibrant, creative merch stand with well-designed merch entices more people to take a souvenir away from the brewery.
  • Contact details. Ensuring correct times/addresses/key details are always up to date on social pages/websites and use of bots to streamline punter Q’s on social. 
  • Fridges. Vibrant take away fridges with special deals, mixed packs or added incentives for punters.
  • Glassware. I think Range wins this one for the nicest glassware. Love the glasses there. Goes a long way to have a nice clean glass to enjoy with your brews.
  • Tasting paddles. Townsville Brewery represented the best value for volume. Also like Fixation, having a funky paddle design to put them in goes a long way too for the social posts.
  • Venue architecture. Kids spaces, outdoor seating, plants and garden beds, creative taps (Burleigh’s skate deck ones win this) and you can also never go wrong with astroturf- that’s actually one of the tenents I live by in life too. Love the stuff! Stomping Ground’s kids area is a marvelous example of providing a positive experience for families and kids.
  • Food. The abundance of vegan and GF menu’s in taprooms showcases the inclusive industry this is and draws in more people at the same time. Having the availability of GF beers, spiced ciders, mulled wines, spritz’s, organic or local soft drinks, kombuchas, etc all are smart options to cater to everyone not just beer drinkers.
  • Tasting notes. Stomping Ground seems the most detailed and I do love seeing extensive notes about the beers I’m drinking.
  • Signage. Neon signs look amazing at night or on wet days, signs out the front or simple wayfinding and well-lit spaces to attract.
  • Fan engagement. Live local music, trivia nights, beer memberships/clubs (Inner North’s 100-pint beer club/Range’s run club/ Otherside’s ‘buy a bit of the brewery’), ‘Dogs of Grifter’ also a cute idea to engage the local community. There are so many things these breweries and more are doing and I’ve put this list together and these articles a while back that details more on craft beer fan engagement ideas. 
  • Stickers/Email EDM’s. Burnley’s free stickers for an email sign up. Beer geeks love slapping a sticker on their car or fridge. Just ask me, I’ve got about 50 on the back of my LandCruiser.
  • Brewery tours. Some good ones around from free quick tours of the tanks to $25 tours which included a paddle. These really are one and the same and honestly what more can these be at any brewery anywhere in the world, but the best ones were where I got to talk to the actual people behind the brewery about pain points, local issues and their successes and lessons learned. Obviously that’s me and other folks just want to hear how beer is made. Just talk to the staff about day to day life in beer and find out what that brewery is doing in the local community.
  • Freebies/Deals. 3 Ravens have a box of past beer decals and stickers that you can pick up a memento for a buck. Even just having beer coasters goes a long way as I know many mates who take one as a memento.
  • Sustainability. Loads of sustainability initiatives around the breweries like solar power to bio cups but I like how some offer a free pot or just a beer for bringing back your biopak holders.
  • Little touches. The hydration water station at Black Hops looks impressive and more than just jugs of water.
  • Beer tourism. Smart ideas like the Brisbane and Marickville ‘Beermuda Triangles’.
  • Space. Ample spaces for functions and events with different seating options. Industrial fans when it’s stinking hot or burners when it’s chilly.
  • Beer lists. Clear and concise signage and layouts for cost, beer style, ABV, small note on taste/flavour makes these pop when the person is standing in line to order and easier for the punter to choose which speeds up the service.
  • Accessibility/Transport. Moon Dog World’s massive bike rack area that encourages people to ride in was impressive to see.

 

QUEENSLAND (10)

Range Brewing Co, Newstead, Queensland

  • Fascinating brewery
  • Incredible beers
  • Simple open and airy aesthetic
  • Knowledgeable and friendly staff
  • A must visit

Townsville Brewery, Townsville, Queensland

  • Great value for money for tasting paddle
  • Lovely old Queensland building to marvel at
  • Huge range of beers
  • Lots of art to admire
  • Great staff who were keen for a chat.

Burleigh Brewing Co, Burleigh, Queensland

  • The taps are some of the best in Oz. What a creative idea.
  • Lots of space for all
  • Live music and movie nights
  • Surfboard set up is sweet

Black Hops II, Biggera Waters, Queensland

  • Very nifty ideas here
  • Hydration station
  • Biopack return point
  • Effective signage
  • Funky tap set up
  • Great merch area

Semi Pro Brewing Co, Wolloongabba, Queensland

  • Delicious beers
  • Cool spot at the Gabba- go here before a Lions or cricket game.
  • Lots of seating
  • Kids/family inclusive with good spaces for all
  • TV’s for the cricket etc
  • Lovely staff members

Fortitude Brewing Co, Tamborine Mountain, Queensland

  • Secluded and tranquil brewery
  • Lots of parking and other attractions nearby like cheese and local produce.
  • Live music stage set up is cool
  • Very friendly and passionate staff

Balter Brewing Co, Currumbin, Queensland

  • Nice wall art
  • I loved my BEER cap until I lost it!
  • Coasters and beers all enjoyable.
  • Friendly staff.

Lost Palms Brewing Co, Miami, Queensland

  • Love the design and aesthetic of this brewery
  • Bonus points for giving us some stickers for the car and fridge to promote them
  • I love their art too.

Felons Brewing Co, Brisbane, Queensland

  • Location, location, location is the best bit here.
  • Get a spot overlooking the Brisbane River and grab one of their tasty brews.

Black Hops, Burleigh Heads, Queensland

  • The OG!
  • Love their merch range especially the beer socks.

NEW SOUTH WALES (6)

Stone and Wood Brewing Co, Byron Bay, New South Wales

  • Creative merch area- stands out.
  • Heaps of space for punters inside and out.

Devil’s Elbow Brewing Co, Dubbo, New South Wales

  • Brand new brewery
  • What a win for locals out here
  • Extensive beer list and tasting notes
  • Lots of parking and places to sit

Grifter Brewing Co, Marrickville, Sydney, New South Wales

  • Dogs of Grifter was a highlight as were the beers

Stockade Brewery, Marrickville, Sydney, New South Wales

  • Sours were mint

Batch Brewing Co, Marrickville, Sydney, New South Wales

  • Nice glassware
  • Bonus points for lush hanging trees and nice setting

Sauce Brewing Co, Marrickville, Sydney, New South Wales

  • Cool setting out the back
  • Delicious beers here. I was very surprised.

TASMANIA (6)

Hobart Brewing Co, Hobart, Tasmania

  • Epic dark beers
  • Cool merch long sleeve shirts
  • Nice fire areas
  • Bonus points for spiced hot apple cider

Cascade Brewery, Hobart, Tasmania

  • Spun the chocolate wheel and won a carton of retro Cascade tinnies. Was a good day.

Moo Brew at MONA, Tasmania

  • The beer vending machine is hilarious and such a cool concept
  • Nice setting up the top of MONA to try their beers- was quite cheap too given the location

Shambles Brewing Co, Hobart, Tasmania

  • Quality staff up for a chat
  • Great beer list signage
  • Stout was impressive
  • Lots of space out the front to chill under a burner

The Winston, Hobart, Tasmania

  • HUGE beer list
  • Great beer notes
  • Pumping atmosphere
  • Add it to your Tassie list
  • Friendly staffers

Bruny Island Brewing Co, Bruny Island, Tasmania

  • Such a nice setting here
  • Pick up local produce too
  • Stout was insanely good
  • Pack the jumpers and head here if visiting Tassie
  • Loved the tallies.

T-Bone Brewing Co, Hobart, Tasmania

  • Peanut Butter Stout was simply delicious.
  • Cool wall art
  • Funky location in North Hobart
  • Nice staffers
  • Cool merch

VICTORIA (19)

Stomping Ground Beer Hall, Melbourne, Victoria

  • Kids Zone is a clever idea
  • Extensive beer notes
  • Very family-friendly and inclusive

Inner North Brewing Co, Brunswick, Victoria

  • Greenery around the venue is a plus
  • Nice staff up for a chat
  • Cool location down a back street in Brunny
  • Doing impressive beers
  • Nice beer list signage
  • Cool 100-pint membership club….I’m still on 3.

Queenscliff Brewhouse, Prickly Moses Brewing, Queenscliff, Victoria

  • Cheery staff
  • Pumping atmosphere inside and out the back
  • Cool barrel display
  • Nice beer art
  • Good beer lists

Jetty Road Brewing Co, Dromana, Victoria

  • Impressive beers AND food! Food is a winner here
  • Extensive beer art
  • Happy staffers

Urban Alley Brewing, Docklands, Melbourne, Victoria

  • A huge line up of brews
  • Well worth coming here if here for shopping in Docklands or going to an AFL etc game
  • Staff are always polite and friendly

Salt Brewing Co, Airey’s Inlet, Victoria

  • Quiet outdoor setting to enjoy
  • Lots of beer merch and good designs too
  • Beers were delicious
  • Extensive beer notes
  • Staff more than up for a chin wag

Two Bays Brewing Co, Dromana, Victoria

(Disclaimer- I work here but visited as a punter in February before starting out in March)

  • All gluten-free beers and taproom food
  • Vegan menu. We came out here because wife is vegan and she was very impressed
  • Dromana in the Mornington Peninsula is a magnificent 1-hour drive from Melbourne and you can take in a heap of other breweries like Jetty Road, Dainton, Mr Banks, Mornington Peninsula Brewery and loads more.

Valhalla Brewing Co, Geelong, Victoria

  • Owner is a champion fella and had a good chat with him here
  • Nice spot in centre of town and an hour from Melbourne or less
  • Huge beer list

Blackmans Brewery, Torquay, Victoria

  • Lots of merch
  • Lots of seating areas
  • Friendly staff
  • Yum beers

Southern Bay Brewing Co, Geelong, Victoria

  • Great chat with the owner
  • Not open for visits though so not worth rocking up as I did
  • Not much in this part of town
  • Black IPA was delicious

Burnley Brewing Co, Melbourne, Victoria

  • Love the beer socks
  • Lots of clever merch ideas
  • Free stickers
  • Huge beer list
  • Happy hour $4 beers are incredible
  • Lots of events here
  • Quality, happy staffers
  • Mint glassware

Moon Dog World, Preston, Victoria

  • Interesting!
  • Lot of spaces to chill out in
  • Vegan/GF menu
  • Some cool activities to be had here
  • Lots of merch items
  • Bike racks out the front are smart to encourage cycling in

Moon Dog Brewery, Abbotsford, Victoria

  • Another OG
  • Well worth a visit
  • Funky set up
  • Great beer list and happy staff

Black Dog Brewing Co, Taminick, Victoria

  • Stopped here when traveling back to Brisbane up the Newell Highway
  • Make a stop in it’s worth it
  • Lots of beer styles
  • Picked up a cap- love a black dog!

Fixation Brewing Co, Collingwood, Victoria

  • All about the IPA’s
  • Nice glassware
  • Creative beer paddles
  • Such kind, friendly staff
  • Nice beer list wall

Thunder Road Brewing Co, Brunswick, Victoria

  • Chilled place in Brunswick
  • Lots of beer varieties to suit all tastes
  • Plenty of events
  • Good pricing for craft beers

Detour Brewing Co, Coldstream, Victoria

  • Did a day road trip out here- not far from Melbourne – the scenery is sublime.
  • Unsure whats happening as says ‘permanently closed’ on google
  • Cool merch 
  • Nice staff- brewer had the time for a chat
  • Let me take a pic behind the bar.

Temple Brewing Co, Brunswick, Victoria 

  • Nice spot any day of the week
  • Some of the nicest people work here
  • Huge beer list

3 Ravens Brewing Co, Thornbury, Victoria

  • Scene of one of my favourite beers for 2019
  • Love the beer club here
  • Great use of ex-stickers/beer decals selling for a $1 or $2
  • Such a chilled space
  • Quality staff make this an inclusive space

Future Mountain Brewing and Blending, Reservoir, Victoria

  • Seriously good brews
  • Extensive beer notes
  • Amazing glassware
  • Staff that give a damn

WESTERN AUSTRALIA (7)

Gage Roads Brewing Co, Palmyra, Western Australia

  • Such a good visit but no brewery tours here
  • Good to try the other Gage varieties like Hello Sunshine and Atomic before launch
  • Good to get the Gage beers at Optus Stadium too

Otherside Brewing Co, Myaree, Western Australia

  • Wow! What a venue.
  • Love the ‘buy a bit of the brewery’ idea
  • Colourful takeaway fridge
  • A must visit in Perth.

Blasta Brewing Co, Burswood, Western Australia

  • Live local music
  • Good beer lists
  • Nice crew
  • Close to transport. Came here before State of Origin.

Little Creatures Brewing Co, Fremantle, Western Australia

  • Very cool merch- love the hop hats
  • Cool branded cars for photo ops
  • Quality beers 
  • A very nice experience that’s well worth checking out in Freo

NowhereMan Brewing Co, West Leederville, Western Australia

  • Great quality glasses and brews
  • Friendly staff 

Nail Brewing Co, Bassendean, Western Australia

  • Unparalleled hospitality 
  • No brewery tour but unbelievable experience meeting this legend
  • Get behind Nail-they do amazing things!

Beerland Brewing Co, Perth, Western Australia

  • Love the beer club idea
  • Pumping atmosphere

Garage Project Fermentation Workshop, Wellington, New Zealand

  • Very lucky to be able to take this in
  • Some of the best beers in the world
  • Amazing hospitality

Beervana, Wellington, New Zealand

  • No words, just go do this!

THE 2019 FAN ENGAGEMENT/ FAN EXPERIENCE 100-1 RECAP

Hello and welcome to my annual 100-1 fan engagement/experience year in review where I take a look back on the creative, innovative, exciting and tailored strategies from teams, venues, sports marketing agencies and sponsors which in my opinion greatly captivated fans across the globe in 2019.

There is a customary heavy focus on Australia and New Zealand as I am based here and please do keep in mind that this is a very subjective list based on my own personal experiences at games, what I saw from colleagues around the globe and what fans have suggested. There will, of course, be ideas and activations that I have missed so please feel free to tag them and add to the discussion here or on social. 

Some of the key areas of focus included:

  • Technology innovations from augmented reality to smart jerseys.
  • F&B incentives were again a trending area with more venues offering early bird offers, family-friendly deals, kids combo meal deals as well as catering for dietary needs and craft beer. 
  • Innovative social seating experiences such as pools, couches, and beaches in venues to offer fans unique fan experiences that can’t be had at home.
  • Inclusive approaches that offer better access and representation to fans with diverse needs to enjoy the same fan experiences as every other fan both in the community and on game day.
  • Harnessing the power of fan-generated content. Find out what skills your fans have by listening to them and then utilize these skills. Fellow fans love this while the fan feels a genuine sense of appreciation that they’re being rewarded for their contribution. I’m a big fan of this area.
  • Sustainable environmental approaches as fans care about their local communities and the environment around the team and society.
  • More political and social justice concerns from fans and teams that put inclusion and communities first.
  • Seamless, tech-driven, fan-friendly venues.

When it comes to fan engagement strategies and improving the fan experience there are few thoughts that I’ll leave you with before starting the 100-1 recap:

Thinking like kids: We must never forget to think like fans, families and in particular junior fans. The ability to continually put ourselves in the shoes of kids and get on their level as well as remember the importance and feeling of those first moments of fandom that we had as kids when we were enthralled and excited by our favourite team or player.

Listening and responding with authenticity: Constantly listening to fans is vital but it is not enough. Responding with empathy and authenticity goes such a long way in driving lifetime fan loyalty.

Keeping it simple: The greatest fan engagement is often the simplest stuff. While I’m constantly road testing the latest tech on my game day travels because I’m a huge fan of the way technology is enhancing our game days I do believe that stripping it all back to the purest and most honest form of fan engagement ends up having the most significant impact on fans. There are a number of outstanding examples of this below.

Inclusion: More than ever thinking about fans as people and not customers and looking at what we can do to better listen and engage them for the benefit of all. 

Personalisation: Never underestimate what it means to a fan to know that you have put them first by directly targeting them.

I trust that this educational summary provides you with some basis for thinking about how you can both improve your fan experience and better engage your fans on both a grassroots or global level while at the same time marvelling at the creativity on show here.

Finally, a huge round of applause to all of the hard-working, creative and talented front office team and venue crews, sports agencies, sponsors and other stakeholders out there who continually create these outstanding experiences for fans across the globe each year. 

If you would like to peruse the previous 100-1 annual summaries then you can find them here:

2018

2017

2016

2015

100. Craft beer and sports team and venue partnerships continued to pour in this year with the establishment of new partnerships with local breweries and venues in an effort to bring fans, local businesses, and the community closer together by offering local and better quality beer options on game days. 

I’ve written a fair bit about this area with my articles well worth a read to understand what teams, venues, and craft breweries are getting out of these partnerships. More info here.

Some of the craft beer and some of the other interesting beer developments from Australia and overseas included:

  • Melbourne Storm and Brick Lane Brewing
  • South Sydney Rabbitohs and Young Henry’s
  • Brisbane Bullets and Newstead Brewing Co
  • Melbourne Demons and Brewanity
  • Port Adelaide and Pirate Life Brewing Co
  • Newcastle Jets and Murray’s Brewing Co

99. Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) post-game kick to kick.  

98. NBL Brisbane Bullets post-game on-court autograph session.

97. @MijnVitesse  launched a pay per month ticketing model.

96. Wimbledon offering vegan strawberries and cream for the first time. A theme emerging of inclusive F&B offerings around the global grounds. 

95. The hilarious New Zealand Warriors (NRL) ‘Bush Shirt’ that took social by storm and will be debuted in the 2020 season. A clever idea to tap into the random side of fans and a nation’s culture. 

 

94. Weetbix and BBL/WBBL personalized backyard cricket bats.

93. Coventry City music themed ‘Specials’ kit for Kick It Out campaign round. Also special mention to West Ham United and their collab with Iron Maiden. Will there be more of these music/team kit collabs?

92. The Boundary Social at The Gabba, Brisbane.

91. F&B prices at Mercedes Benz Stadium, Atlanta for Super Bowl LIII.

90. Chicago Blackhawks NHL chopping board giveaway to fans.

89. NY Mets Seinfeld Night and bobblehead giveaway.

88. Australian Women’s Cricket team trading cards. It’s been so good to see the rise of more women’s sport athletes being featured on cricket trading cards for fans of all ages to collect. Also Super Netball, WBBL and AFLW as well. 

87. Brisbane Lions (AFL) umpired youth games in the community. You should also check out the review I wrote of the Brisbane Lions and Gabba’s Verandah fan experience. 

86. Win an Adelaide Giants (ABL) contract for a day.

85. Chief Beer Officer at the LA Rams.

84. Queens Park Rangers crest collection for new members.

83. AFLX at Marvel Stadium. Light up goal posts, free trading cards and loads of kids activities. Another impressive event for 2019 at the venue. A lot of AFLX got blasted by the media and fans who weren’t the target market.

82. Kensington Oval beach cricket party atmosphere complete with jet ski chairs.

81. Melbourne Storm (NRL) Street Crew.

80. Commemorative yesteryear tickets from Collingwood AFLW.

79. Adelaide Crows (AFL) and Borussia Dortmund replying to fans with personalised kit wallpapers.

78. AGF Children’s Day drawings.

77. AIK Fotboll selling pre-signed jerseys for fans.

76Manchester United and Marriot launched the ‘Seat of Dreams’ at Old Trafford. 

75. New Zealand Warriors (NRL) and Auckland Blues (Super Rugby) ‘Codes of Auckland’ partnership and the Sydney Kings (NBL) and Sydney FC (A-League) partnership.

74. At Pollock FC in Scotland a big football fan – a dog called ‘Yardley’ – is allowed to watch games from the stands at Newlandsfield Park. Now that’s inclusion. Also, #74 just a bit of a laugh in the list. Also, lets put the Dallas Cowboys cat here too. That was very responsive from the AT&T Stadium and team to add the cat to the lineup. 

73. Reuseable cups from Rylands FC and free hot drinks to those who bring their own reusable cup along on match days.

72. @OU_Football launched a website with content and profiles of each signee. They made each of them their own logo and announced the athletes on the site.

71. This lovely story from the UT Vols.

70. Cousin Eddie hat giveaway from M State. One of the best random giveaways of the year.

69. This barbershop and barbershop singing girls at the V8 Supercars at Sandown Raceway in Victoria.

68. New Jersey Devils (NHL) had kids draw pictures of their favourite players and then put them up on the screen.

67. Seattle Sounders (MLS) calling out racism and fascism and in the process showing how inclusive they are to their community. 

66. Coventry City FC’s family zone but in particular their ‘lucky dip’ idea which I thought was simple and effective.

65. The Lawn at the MCG and in particular the caricature part of this. A simple and effective idea for hospitality guests and for kids in a fan zone. Here’s also a review I review of The Lawn fan experience that I wrote for Digital Sports Labs. 

64. Brisbane Roar (A-League) CEO shouting fans drinks at away games.

63. Montrose FC got fans together to road test the pies for the venue. Possibly the best fan engagement all year for food lovers.

62. Reading Fightin Phils had a gender reveal fireworks night.

61. The Holden mini-trucks race circuit at the State of Origin match at Optus Stadium in Perth, Western Australia.

60. Family-Friendly Sunday’s at the SCG. Discounted F&B prices for fans. What other venues are doing similar things?

59. Gender-Neutral toilets at Whitten Oval for the Western Bulldogs AFLW match. A very inclusive way for all fans to be made to feel welcome on game days.

58. Freebies for kids at Marvel Stadium over summer 2019/20 BBL/WBBL matches. 

57. This classy note from Manchester City to fans.

56. Various LA Dodgers themed nights.

55. DB Cooper CSI themed night at the Portland Pickles.

54. Pink Beer for the Pink Test at the SCG.

53. The Pool and Boundary Beach Club at Optus Stadium, Perth, Western Australia.

52. New Zealand All Blacks ‘Black Laundry’. “Running until the start of November, and open ahead of every All Blacks match, Steinlager wants to inspire Kiwis to show their true colours by sacrificing an item of clothing and dying it black  – with one Auckland woman already having dyed her wedding dress.”

51. Fans First free shipping. Savannah Bananas removed merch shipping fees.

50. San Francisco 49er’s ‘All You Can Eat’ tickets. 

49. State of Origin Light Show at Optus Stadium, Perth.

48. The Queensland Maroons visited the Brisbane Police Watch House.

47. Parramatta Eels (NRL) moving statue at Bankwest Stadium. Check out Bankwest Stadium too. I wrote a fan experience review for Aus Leisure Mag which can be found here.

46. This stubby cooler sweater from Cricket Australia as a hospitality piece of merch. Had to include something merchandise related and this was one of the best pieces I picked up this year. More on Brisbane’s The Gabba and Cricket Australia fan experience can be found here.

45. Sydney Roosters (NRL) members names on the LED ribbon at the SCG. Nice way to made to be feel welcome.

44. Brisbane Broncos (NRL) hackathon. What other teams did these well in 2019?

43. Peterborough PUFC young fans guard of honor.

Great to see so many first time fans at the game today – the looks on their faces when they see the players is priceless! Big ‘fans for the future’ initiative as alluded to by @JasonDavidNeale earlier is coming soon to get these back and ultimately season ticket holders.#pufc pic.twitter.com/KyuVypQRew

— Jake Baxter (@Jake__Baxter) February 2, 2019


42. These incredible kit reveal videos from Arsenal (Adidas) and Chelsea (Nike).

41. Free iconic Tayla Harris kick AFLW badges handed out at AFLW games.

40. Eredivisie Toy Toss. 

39. Manchester City became the first sports club to launch with YouTube Kids.

38. Royal Antwerp FC launched a special section for their vision impaired fans.

37. The @ThunderbirdsAHL‘s celebrated the 30th anniversary of the animated comedy series “The Simpsons.” with these Ice-O-Topes jerseys.

36. Kombucha coming into F&B offerings more and more like at Seattle Seahawks for foodies as healthier stadium concession products gain deeper traction with fans. 

35. Iranian women were allowed to attend a national team game for the first time in 40 years.

34. Baltimore Ravens Pop Up Shop idea.

33. LinkedIn sponsors Grimsby Town FC to help community score jobs. They launched the ‘LinkedIn Lounge’ – a permanent matchday fixture throughout the season, where match goers will be able to see current vacancies in the area, along with details of how to apply.

32. Huggity’s scrum machine challenge. 

31. For the Raptors 25th-anniversary, @PizzaPizzaLtd created an interactive GameBox to offer a tabletop gaming experience. 

30. Tottenham Hotspur’s fast pour beers at the new venue in London. Tech has been around for a while but it seemed to take off this year with the launch of the new stadium. 

29. Baltimore Ravens debut mixed reality Raven in venue.

28. NBA smart jerseys.

27. PSV helps a young fan enjoy a matchday experience like no other.

26. Chelsea FC unveiled a new ‘shirt holders’ Nike kit designed by fans.

25. Penn State Football’s creative poster that transforms into a helmet.

24. Hertha BSC ticket bot.

23. Premier League smart shirt.

22. FC Midtjylland hired a bagpipes player to greet Rangers fans.

21. FC Union Berlin made these posters up for their recently deceased fans. 

20. Feyenoord and Opel offer each away game a clubcar for four fans to travel to away games. 

19. Everton FC. Treats on seats for first time under 11 Season Ticket members to welcome them to Goodison Park for 2019/20.

18. Paris Saint-Germain partnered with Deliveroo for in-seat ordering at Parc des Princes.

17. Swindon Town FC Junior Takeover Day. Also another good example of this below from Brentford FC.

16. Brilliant work from Watford FC for those fans wanting to know costs, first time attendance and every detail for the match. This makes it so easy for fans to better understand the game day.

15. Andres Iniesta’s Farewell Jersey idea from beIN Sports.

14. VR work from Bayern Munich.

13. These ushers at Fiserv Forum for the Bucks game. 

12. GWS (AFL) ahead of the 2019 AFL Grand Final.

11. Dallas Cowboys/AT&T Stadium AR ‘Pose With The Pro’s’ activation. Also another fine example from Wolverhampton Wanderers too below.

10. Bat flips at the BBL/WBBL.

9. Swindon Town FC taking fans to their seats on their first game days.

8. DC United getting the local music community involved in game days.

7. FC Utrecht galvanising fans to donate their warm clothes to their supporters who live below the poverty line.

6. Charlotte Checkers having personalised notes on fans seats.

5. The Washington Capitals announcing their official team dog of the team. 

4. The warm welcoming work from Brentford FC’s team to create personalised welcome emails to fans coming to Griffin Park for the first time. A delightful way to ensure fans feel welcome and have all the information they need to be able to get the most out of their first experience. 

3. The work of teams like Melbourne Rebels (Super Rugby), Penrith Panthers (NRL) and Newcastle Knights (NRL) listening to their fans to lower the prices on their jerseys to $99 from the original costs of upwards of $170. 

 

2. The amazing work the Gold Coast Titans (NRL) and other organisations did to create a rugby league physical disability competition so that these young players could play the game they love. Watch Leagueability on ABC here. “A heart-warming, inspirational story about a bunch of young blokes who live for the game but have never been allowed to play and start a physical disability rugby league competition in regional Australia.”

1. AS Roma’s new recruits and missing persons campaign. There are just no words for how brilliant this was. 

So there you have it for 2019.

A pretty impressive list of fan engagement strategies and fan experience insights from across the globe highlighting the outstanding work being done to entertain and delight fans in various parts of the world.

100 (actually there’s well over that as I’ve combined a few here and there) truly exceptional strategies but what have I missed? What was happening for you as a fan in your neck of the woods?

Thanks also to my colleagues and the people I look up to in the industry and this space such as but not limited to:

Be sure to also scroll back through the 2018, 2017, 2016 and 2015 countdowns too to see what’s been happening over the past few years (found at the top of this post).

Let me know at @MrBlairHughes on Twitter or on LinkedIn.

Thanks and have a great holiday break.

Froth Beer Mag: Crafty Careers: So You Want To Work In Craft Beer?


Crafty Careers: So You Want To Work In Craft Beer?

There’s never been a better time to get involved and start a career working in the Australian craft beer industry as the market continues to grow daily on the back of exciting trends including changing consumer tastes and an increasing loyalty from a passionate fan movement for locally produced, high-quality independent craft beer.

So if you’re looking to get a start in the industry could a career in craft beer be just for you?

This article explores why Australia’s craft beer industry is a thriving space to work in, the diverse roles on offer at breweries, my personal experience from having recently started at a Victorian craft brewery as well as providing some advice from experienced and knowledgeable industry leaders regarding the skills that are essential and how you too can get a job working in beer.

The Beer Boom

It’s an exciting time across the country as the craft beer sector continues to boom with new craft breweries opening in both regional and inner cities on a near-weekly basis while more and more artisan bottle shops, brewery tours and beer festivals are also being established to cater for the new wave of consumers who are passionate about experimentation, quality, freshness and knowing the source of their beer. The impact of this boom has led to positive outcomes including more jobs, the rise in craft beer tourism especially in rural parts of Australia, increased government support, record hop crop yields, new educational courses as well as creative innovations and sustainability initiatives that are collectively delighting craft beer drinkers and bringing local communities closer and closer together across the country. Furthermore, while the industry faces many challenges such as increasing market access, competition from multinational breweries and a global downturn in beer consumption, the positive contribution that these craft breweries add to local Australian communities and our economy is both significant and to be applauded.

From Beer Nerd To Brand Ambassador

My career path has involved working across the education, sports, music and tech sectors but as a craft beer nerd I’ve also been trying to champion the scene wherever I can such as through my writing, however at the start of the year I finally decided to follow my passion for Aussie craft beer and look for a start in the industry. Fast forward to the present day and working at Two Bays Brewing Co as a brand ambassador has been both a phenomenal learning experience and the best career decision that I’ve ever made. In the past six months I’ve regularly been out of my comfort zone learning new skills and insights about beer and while I’ve managed our events and got our beer into venues it’s been the small things like cleaning the beer lines, helping out on the canning line and learning about the brewing process hands-on with our brewers that have been the most rewarding to me.

Working at a craft brewery is challenging and rewarding but it’s also plenty of fun and while my perspective is based purely on working across sales and events, career pathways in the industry are diverse and can include many roles like brewing and marketing to venue management and accounting. Careers in beer can be for anyone that’s just starting out or wanting to pivot their skills but it’s essential to have a positive attitude along with a willingness to jump in and help out in other aspects of the business. This is exciting as you’re bound to learn plenty of new hands-on skills about beer along the way with Bad Shepherd venue manager Jenny Watts noting “having a passion and desire to learn is essential and I encourage anyone looking to get into the industry to have an open mind, be prepared to do the hard yards, start at the basics with a mind to work your way up and enjoy the journey because the Australian craft beer industry is an amazing network of fantastic, supportive like-minded people”.

Getting Started

There are plenty of simple things that you can do to give yourself a greater chance of securing a role such as volunteering at beer festivals, creating content such as blogs, attending events and workshops, researching and reading up on the industry in trade publications to building your knowledge and connections by networking with the industry either at the taproom, bottle-o tastings or festivals which are all effective ways to gain deeper insights into working in the craft beer industry. As head brewer at Stone and Wood Caolan Vaughan highlights on roles in brewing for instance “you should ask and volunteer at your local brewery. You never know what they will say. Go and study something related to brewing like chemistry or even better go and do a specific brewing qualification. There is plenty on offer around the world via correspondence and some are available right here in Australia.” From my own perspective I wrote stories, created infographics and educational content, built up my networks while on my craft beer road trip adventures, went to trade shows and workshops and even started a fun little Instagram blog showcasing Aussie craft breweries. All of these things went a long way in making connections, learning more about the industry and eventually getting a gig in the craft beer world and they’re also quite simple things that anyone else can do too to get a head start on their journey in beer.

Industry Advice

Having an understanding of some of the general skills and attributes required and how to get involved in the industry is vital when looking at a career in beer and so for this story I asked a handful of experienced and knowledgeable colleagues from across diverse roles in Australia’s craft brewing industry to provide some advice on what people can do to get started.

Up in the northern beaches of Sydney and Modus Operandi sales rep and certified cicerone Becky Centeno states that the best advice she could give anyone “is that it’s all about attitude in the sense of staying positive and fiercely determined. Getting involved in the industry takes a lot of dedication, time, and putting yourself out there, but also being humble and cooperative along the way is massive” while down in Melbourne at Hawkers, Cellar Technician Melinda Foulkes notes that “the ability to` problem solve and think on your feet are probably the most valuable skills when working in the beer industry”. Green Beacon’s Ella Gasparini provides further useful advice and reaffirms that anyone can forge a career in this industry by highlighting that “Obviously the starting point for a lot of us is a passion and love for beer but it doesn’t necessarily have to be the only thing. There are so many skill sets that add to this industry. Finding your place and a role that suits you is key. This is becoming a more and more diverse industry and a lot of roles are opening up that were previously non-existent”.

What Are You Waiting For?

The rapid growth of the industry illustrates that if you’re passionate about good beer and thinking about a career in this space then there’s never been a better time to get started. With new and diverse roles becoming available on a daily basis, breweries are on the hunt for creative, enthusiastic, dynamic and passionate people to help capitalize and continue this exciting momentum. The Aussie craft beer industry is a fun and challenging space to work in that has been built on the back of the positive and passionate people that comprise it and hopefully the insights provided here helps anyone out there whose currently looking to get a start in the industry. So, could a career in beer be for you?

Bio
Blair Hughes works in events and sales for gluten free brewery Two Bays Brewing Co in Dromana, Victoria. You can follow him on Twitter at @MrBlairHughes or at www.MrBlairHughes.com.

BREWCON 2019: And The Crowd Goes Wild Q&A Recap

Quick post BREWCON note to say thanks to both the Independent Brewers Association and staff for the opportunity to run a session at the conference and to my fabulous panel Nick Truelson from the Western Bulldogs, Danielle Allen from Two Birds Brewing Co, Jenna Godley from Colonial Brewing and Amy Bradshaw from Essendon Football Club who gave up their time to contribute their knowledge, experience and ideas around fan engagement, sports business and craft beer to help continue the growth of the Aussie craft brewing industry.

Plenty of good feedback after the event from those in the beer and sports world too so very happy with that. Well done, thank you all.

More on the Q&A panel here: http://brewcon.org.au/2019-program/ and http://brewcon.org.au/sessions/and-the-crowd-goes-wild/

Keep challenging yourself, keep setting goals and keep ticking them off. Damn it’s a good feeling.

 

AUS LEISURE MAG: The Best In The West: Bankwest Stadium Parramatta Eels NRL Fan Experience Review

The game-day fan experience continues to rapidly evolve on a daily basis with global venues going all out for sports fans through enhancements to areas such as hospitality, seating, catering, technology and accessibility all in an effort to create better fan-friendly destinations and unforgettable experiences as well as further drive new revenue opportunities.

Recent fan experience developments to venues have for instance seen the addition of a craft beer microbrewery at Tottenham Hotspur’s dazzling new stadium in London while Banc of California Stadium in Los Angeles focused on a foodies experience for LAFC fans by including concession items from some of the best local chefs and restaurants in LA. Meanwhile, under construction venues such as Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas will feature a retractable roof as part of their climate-controllable venue while Hungary’s new Puskás Arena in Budapest will include a running track perched above the stands with panoramic views over the city. These impressive modern stadium designs are just a few features which highlight that it’s truly never been a more exciting time to be a sports fan as venues around the world constantly seek to improve the fan experience for spectators to get them off the couch and into venues.

Another venue putting fans and the fan experience front and centre on game day through a raft of impressive features is Australia’s latest major venue, Parramatta’s spectacular Bankwest Stadium situated on the banks of the Parramatta River in Western Sydney. In my latest fan experience review here for AUS Leisure I take a look at the impressive NSW Government funded Bankwest Stadium from a recent Parramatta Eels NRL match here to highlight both how they are achieving best practice fan experience and the lessons that other venues can learn to improve and enhance their own venue fan experiences.

Transport

The fan journey often begins with either the ticket buying experience or with transport to the game and as I began my journey to the venue via a train from Sydney’s Central Station it was instantly impressive to see integrated ticketing in effect with free public transport included as part of every match day ticket. The venue is well serviced by multiple public transport options such as trains, ferries and buses with my train only taking 25 minutes to arrive into the Parramatta Transport Interchange in the Parramatta CBD. It was then just a short walk to the ground through the bustling Church Street precinct that was heavily decorated in Parramatta Eels colours. Navigating the route to a venue can also sometimes be difficult however the addition of bright pink way-finding signage and helpful Transport for NSW support staff provided extra assistance for fans to easily locate the stadium. It was good to see that bike parking racks are also located just out the front of the gates highlighting that there’s multiple ways to access the venue on game days.

Atmosphere

After a seamless entry through the ticket gates, a thorough bag search and an unexpected but very welcome positive greeting from a jovial security guard, I made my way into the ground and was instantly blown away by the incredible views and close proximity that every seat seems to have of the field of play. As kick off approached and the venue was packed with loud and vocal NRL fans, the deafening roars and cheers elevated the noise to an unprecedented atmosphere in an Australian venue. It felt like a wall of sound had been created from the 30,000 fans packed in here so close to the immaculate turf which looked like lush emerald velvet. These thoughts were echoed by Parramatta Eels tragic and Ladies Who League founder Mary Konstantopoulos who stated to me at the match The fan experience is exceptional; you are so close to the action and the roar of the crowd sends chills down your spine. Personally though I also love how the history of the Eels is still reflected in the stadium through the Ray Price Statue and the stands named after Eels legends – it’s a nod to the past whilst providing plenty of hope for the future.”.

Architecture

Venue architect Populous, operators VenuesLive and construction company LendLease have all worked tremendously together to create an outstanding venue that has a variety of clever features such as large open dwell spaces for fans to navigate the concourses and also mingle next to colourful decor that’s still in view of the field. Walking around the venue was easy due to the clear way-finding signs and there is a good use of space inside the concourses with stroller bays for parents to easily park their prams in a secure area under the stands. Outside the stadium there is a kids playground area, basketball court and a street workout gym which all represented a smart use of venue space as well as ensuring that the local community has access to these features whenever they wish. While the venue is very much accessible for all needs, another inclusive approach has been to include unisex toilets which is just another way venues are thinking about looking after all of their spectators and making sure they feel valued on game day.

Seating

Bankwest Stadium CEO Daryl Kerry stated that “This is a stadium that was designed and built for the fans with the event experience front of mind and it’s clear that one of the many highlights of the rectangular seating design of the venue is that every spectator feels so close to the action on the field that they can almost reach out and grab the turf from their seats. It became apparent pretty quickly as I criss-crossed my way around the venue that there’s not a bad seat in the house with the views of the field simply breathtaking no matter where you are seated. The high back seats are also spacious and comfortable while the seat rake means you’re pretty much on top of the action and with the atmosphere pumping throughout the day you feel as though you’re much more apart of the spectacle than in other grounds.  

F&B

Upon checking out the concession outlets and kiosks inside the venue, it was evident that Bankwest Stadium has listened to sports fans as there are a host of clever catering additions and incentives here that already have fans singing the venue’s praises. For instance, game day essentials like sauce and beer trays are free, Bankwest cardholders get 10% off concession items while fan first pricing is in effect with seven key food items like pies and hot chips available for under $5. Moreover, the cost of beer here is closest to the cheapest in any Australian sporting venue starting at $6.50 and even includes craft options such as Furphy and Little Creatures brews which will appease beer drinkers

It was positive to see a focus on sustainability to reduce waste with biodegradable cutlery available instead of plastic and that the venue had researched and identified the changing consumer habits and needs of fans with both quality vegan and gluten free food options all available for fans to purchase. As stadium F&B options continue to improve globally for fans it was exciting to see the focus on flavours that reflected the diversity of the local Western Sydney community as all fans tastes have been catered for through the addition of the ‘High Street’ speciality concession outlets that featured everything from Chinese and BBQ meals to seafood and health food dishes which all looked substantial and delicious when I surveyed the outlets before kick off.

Technology

From the crisp and vocal sound coming through the new PA system to the super fast free Wi-Fi, Bankwest Stadium utilises an impressive array of modern technology that’s both interactive and immersive for fans to experience.

The first things to notice when entering the grandstands is how much clearer the sound is from the speakers while the eye-catching and colourful LED ribbons and HD screens create a thrilling tribal atmosphere as they flash out team hype reels and sponsor content across the stands. Sports business leaders TLA Australia and Game Changer MVP have been responsible for revolutionising the match day experience at BankWest Stadium through the in-game fan engagement and entertainment with TLA Australia Head of Events and Consultancy, James Ward, saying “Through our collaboration with Game Changer MVP we are combining global expertise with local knowledge and experience to deliver some amazing content for fans at Bankwest Stadium’.

Across the day I used close to 5GB of data with ease on the stadium network with no drop outs or re-sign while the Parramatta’s screen content and entertainment was electrifying and had the fans in the stands pumped up throughout the match. The Sport LED lighting is also going to be impressive to see here as the lights can be turned on and off with ease for synchronised light and sound shows.

Fan Engagement

With just three games in for the venue, hirers are still finding their feet with how to make use of the space however the Parramatta Eels put on a first class display for fan engagement by providing activities for fans like a photo booth, face painting and even a living statue artist dressed in Eels colours which was a new one to the fan engagement photo opportunity ideas book. The Eels members bar was also a highlight of the venue where Blue and Gold Army Eels members were able to mingle together in their own dedicated fan space that was decorated in Parra livery.

Hospitality

Having canvassed the concourse and general seating areas, I made my way around to the Western Stand to inspect the corporate hospitality facilities of which on first look seemed there appeared to be an abundance of diverse premium options for guests. While there are indeed plenty of quality lounges, suites and clubs providing both private and premium experiences for networking and dining with gourmet F&B and spectacular views right on top of the field, the jewel in the hospitality crown at Bankwest Stadium is the exclusive and exciting ‘Field Club’. This ‘money cant buy experience’ located at the edge of the playing field allows guests to see the players warming up before they walk through the Field Club and onto the ground which combined with the outstanding views brings patrons so incredibly close to the action like never before.

From the diversity in F&B and the smart architectural design to the unique hospitality and the immersive tech, Bankwest Stadium is a spectacular venue that sets a very high bar for the sports fan experience. This is a world class fan first venue and all stakeholders from the NSW Government down should be applauded for the attention to detail that has gone into its creation as well as the focus on going the extra mile for fans with all the little touches. A Bankwest Stadium game day is an essential bucket list visit for any sports fan and one can only hope that Australian venues continue to put fans and improvements to the fan experience front of mind and look to this venue when creating new event spaces.

BIO:

Blair Hughes is an award winning, globally respected fan engagement specialist who helps clients in the sports, music and craft beer industries grow their fan bases, improve fan experiences and create new business and revenue opportunities. You can follow him on Twitter at @MrBlairHughes or at

www.MrBlairHughes.com.

ABC Radio Interview: Fun Police Curbing Sport Fan Behaviour? (21/6/19)

A riveting chat with security personnel and fans from across Australia.

Talking about the current AFL fan and crowd issues, security, behaviour awareness officers and more.

Listen in here: https://www.abc.net.au/radio/programs/overnights/fun-police-curbing-sport-fan-behaviour/11233648

The Top Aussie Craft Brewery Beer Gear List and Top Tips For Craft Beer Merchandising

If it’s one thing I enjoy most about the global craft beer community, it’s getting out on the open road and checking out our breweries across the country and overseas. I’ve had the opportunity to take in craft breweries in places like India, USA, England, Japan and all over Australia and the one thing that never lets them down is their emphasis on supporting their local communities and the fact that they all seem to love what they do too as they seem to come across as positive people always up for a chat.

Tasting the diverse selection of beers, meeting the staff, learning about their local community and then grabbing some merchandise to take home and promote these breweries is what I and I bet you love to do too. There’s something special and valuable about supporting local businesses and being loyal to your local community and by buying some beers or in this case beer gear it goes a long way to promoting and spreading the good gospel of that brewery, having some nice gear to wear or use as well as supporting that particular local community.

This article was one I’ve been thinking about doing for a while. Whenever I travel to breweries I always love checking out the merch or gift shop to see the tee designs, the interesting accessories and the take home beer selections. I mean who doesn’t like a good gift shop anywhere right!

However I’m often let down by poor designs, run of the mill logos on black tee’s, same old same old accessories and of course…..stock standard logos on stubby coolers. Unfortunately it’s quite often boring, poorly designed without a graphic designer, doesn’t fit with their audience, unoriginal, doesn’t work with the logo or colours and just looks like it could be a heck of a lot better. It’s important to note that merch is always a secondary thing as these are local businesses with staff doing a thousand jobs all subject to budgets and resources and of course demand from consumers. However for breweries it is also important to keep in mind that there’s craft beer geeks out there who want to buy your beer merch, want to buy quality designs and want to buy creative and unique items to be able to promote you. Harness the power of these craft beer fans and put the effort and quality into your craft beer merchandise. Beer geeks and brewery visitors will love it and it will result in sales.

Here are some simple tips for craft beer merchandising:

  • Use a qualified graphic designer.
  • Understand your audience and craft brewery demographics and target those audiences.
  • Use a graphic designer working or who has experience working with craft beer/breweries/beer world
  • Think about artist collaborations especially with local artists in your community.
  • Seasonal merch ranges are important. Think winter/summer.
  • Get creative with merch. Think funky, unique, creative design and merch ideas.
  • Always have a gift voucher option available. Did you know Blockbuster RIP invented the gift card too? Read more about the benefits and history of gift vouchers here and here.
  • Think about your female fans and ensure you get items like tee’s in female sizes.
  • Don’t discount kids/baby merch. Parents will grab these as will others to use as gifts.
  • Think local. Who can you get involved in your local community to work with.
  • Think about what beer fans/consumers actually need or want as merchandise.
  • Have an online ecommerce merch shop. You’re missing out on 24/7 sales otherwise. Top shelf website design and UX is an absolute must as well.
  • Have the merch visible and well presented in a stand in your brewery.
  • Have stickers available to either give out or to sell to people.

Take the topic of stickers for instance. Every brewery I go to I always ask to grab a sticker to slap on my LandCruiser and promote the breweries wherever I go. Now when breweries don’t have one available for free or to even sell me as part of their merch range, I think to myself you’ve just missed a huge opportunity for someone to promote you for free.

Case in point, a few months back I was in the Gold Coast region and went into one new brewery to try their brews. At the end of the pour in a taproom with no one else in it I politely asked if I could have a sticker and was rudely and aggressively denied one because they weren’t for sale (also the oddest customer service brewery experience in 2019 so far!). That’s totally fine but that brewery is missing out on an opportunity to allow people to easily promote them….FOR FREE! A roll of quality stickers are inexpensive and can be used as merch, as giveaways at festivals and for all manner of other purposes to promote your brewery.

In a country of 550 competing breweries where having a point of difference and standing out has become even more vital (especially in crowded markets) there has never been a more important time to understand your audiences, highlight and up-sell your USP’s to customers and simply give your beer fans what they’re after. Having a sticker is something so simple to create that will go a long way in terms of promotion and marketing, positive engagement with beer geeks as well as being an easy revenue opportunity. Don’t overthink it, just do it.

So while recently scanning about 200 odd of the 500+ craft breweries in Australia I decided to do an analysis of their merch stores and was surprised by a heap of genius merch ideas and quality designs.

Here’s my selection (in no particular order) for what are some of the smartest, most creative, useful and interesting merchandise ideas from Australia’s craft breweries (well about half of them anyway!).

  1. Balter Lorikeet cap, beer opener and beer duffle.

2. Capital Brewing Cap

3. Newstead Brewing Co Beer Money gift voucher

4. BeerFarm Mug 

5. Hop Nation beer glasses

6. Stomping Ground Beer Dealer Cooler/Koozie 

7. Philter Brewing ‘Seductively Beer’ cap

8. Fixation Hop Tee 

9. Kaiju Beer Women’s Meta Hop tee, beach towel and ‘Hip Hops’ trading cards!

10. Young Henry’s enamel pins

11. Black Hops crew socks

12. Gage Roads x Jamie Browne collab hat/tee

13. Land & Sea Brewery ‘The Canimal’….ok so it’s a tinnie but their designs are damn fine and I had to include a beer on this list as we all take one of them home from our brewery visits!

14. Moon Dog Summer Survival Pack that includes Old Mate Pale Ale, Love Tap Lager, Beer Can, sunnies, stubby holder and some sweet sweatbands!

15. Stone and Wood Ingredients Tee. The old faithful. I’ve had about 3 of these over the last 10 years or so.

16. 3 Ravens ‘Juicy Tee’. Just hot! 

17. Boat Rocker RamJet gift set. Smart idea at a good price!

 

So there you have a very one sided, beer geek biased, personally chosen list of what I think are some clever merch ideas from our great Aussie craft breweries. It might not be to everyone’s liking but there’s lots of ideas to like here and plenty to get colleagues thinking about what might work for their audiences and beer fans at their brewery. However, as always with my work if you have seen something that should be added to the list or something that’s worth talking about then please touch base and I’ll take a squizz and give it a shout out. 

Thanks for reading.

Blair Hughes

Blair Hughes is an award winning, globally respected fan engagement specialist who helps clients in the
sports, music and craft beer industries grow their fan bases, improve fan experiences and create new
business and revenue opportunities. You can follow him on Twitter at @MrBlairHughes or here at
www.MrBlairHughes.com (I’m also brand ambassador at Two Bays Brewing Co running events and sales- come say hi at an event or the taproom sometime!)

 

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