Breweries and business development professionals from all across the country are in Vermont this week, learning how to capitalize on craft beer.
A three-day event called the "Beer Marketing and Tourism Conference" is underway in South Burlington, with beer makers, tour operators, travel promoters, and others from 33 U.S. states and three countries in town for the event.
Participants are discussing topics including best practices for social media, how to enhance customer experiences, how to build partnerships with other sectors to boost visits to breweries, and leveraging a passion for beer to revitalize downtowns.
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"People that really like craft beer are thoughtful about a lot of things, and active in a lot of things," said Ryan Newhouse, one of the conference’s organizers, describing why craft beer drinkers are key customers many businesses hope to target. "They're active in their community, and they're thoughtful about what they eat and what they drink. They want to challenge their palates. We always say beer is social — and this just proves it again and again and again."
Wendy Knight, the commissioner of the Vermont Department of Tourism and Marketing, told the audience at a panel discussion Wednesday morning that one reason interest in beer tourism is particularly high in Vermont is the proximity of breweries to ski resorts and other outdoor activities.
Some of the leading sponsors of the conference include the Vermont Department of Tourism and Marketing, the Vermont Convention Bureau, the Vermont Brewers Association, and the Vermont Ski Areas Association, among others.
The Beer Marketing and Tourism Conference continues Thursday, when Gov. Phil Scott, R-Vermont, is scheduled to visit and discuss the significance of beer tourism to Vermont’s travel sector.