How to Make Beer Festival Management Easy and Efficient

Drink:Eat:Play is an festival management and promotion company that stages more than a dozen sold-out events. They’re best known for their LA Beer Festival, Septemberfest, Chicago Beer Festival, and Bay Area Brew Fest. From beer festivals and block parties to ’80s prom-themed nights and cupcake tasting competitions, their events are creative and affordable.

Unsurprisingly, Drink:Eat:Play’s events have grown in popularity — often drawing several thousand attendees each day. But as attendance soared, the logistics of ticketing and entry management for their events became a real challenge.

These issues came into focus during the 2010 LA Beer Festival, one of their biggest events. Their manual check-in process (read: alphabetized lists) left 7,500 ticket holders standing in line for at least 45 minutes. Dan Silberstein, the owner of Drink:Eat:Play, estimates he lost about $4,000 that day on refunds.

“But worse than the money is the loss of our reputation,” Dan says. “That was really the turning point that made us realize we needed to find a new ticketing vendor.”

4 ways Drink:Eat:Play used Eventbrite to simplify their festival management

With attendance booming at its California events and plans to soon open more in Chicago, New York and other cities, Drink:Eat:Play needed a better way to handle its ticketing. After their near disaster at the LA Beer Festival, they turned to Eventbrite in 2010 to handle their ticketing and entry management.

He started out by using Eventbrite at a smaller event. “It worked so well that I tried it at a larger festival, and it worked great there as well,” Dan said. Now, Drink:Eat:Play routinely hosts sell-out events with Eventbrite in several cities nationwide.

1. Reducing wait times and long lines

Ticketing and festival management

“In the past, everything would have to be handled at Will Call and you’d have to trust that it wasn’t a duplicate ticket. The check-in process is so much easier now.”  

To tackle Drink:Eat:Play’s biggest challenge — getting people in the door — Dan downloaded Eventbrite Neon. He used the free mobile app for organizers on 10 iPods to scan in attendees. The camera on the iPod scans each ticket’s unique barcode and verifies that the same ticket isn’t being used twice, saving the company money and time.

Drink:Eat:Play’s staff can now also quickly look up guest names at the gate, and confirm orders instantly right within the app. Even for events like the LA Beer Festival that draws more than 5,000 people, Dan’s small team of 20 staff and volunteers can quickly scan people in with little-to-no wait time.

2. Making changes on the fly

“In the past, I wouldn’t be able to contact anyone when people would email me at 8 p.m. asking for a change to their ticket orders. Now, I know how to do all that stuff on my own with Eventbrite, but being able to call and talk to someone at night or over the weekend is really helpful.” 

Drink:Eat:Play takes full advantage of their ability to access their Eventbrite account and make changes at any time. This includes adding new ticket types, extending sales deadlines, updating event details, and processing customer refunds immediately — a big win over past headaches. Eventbrite’s 24/7 customer support has also been a huge plus to help them get things done as soon as questions arise.

Beer festival management

3. Predicting demand and maximizing profits

“I have that equation where I can plan a beer festival in three days if I needed to. But the additional transparency of what I can now see on the backend is very important. We can predict exactly how much an event will sell based on the first week’s sales, or based on a month out before an event.”

Dan tracks sales in real-time and can make an early prediction on numbers based on the first week’s sales. By a month before any event, he knows exactly where the company will land. Using this data, he determines order quantities for beer and food, increases or decreases staffing, and makes adjustments to ticket prices and marketing to sell out Drink:Eat:Play’s events.

4. Growing and selling out their events

“The LA Beer Festival went from 1,500 to 7,500 attendees, and now with Eventbrite we have to cap it at 10,000 people because the venue can’t accomodate more. The Orange County event is sold out every year and San Diego keeps getting bigger.”

Eventbrite knows beer festivals, and has even surveyed 5,000 millennial festival attendees to find out the event trends they love. Using these insights, Drink:Eat:Play attracts thousands of people, and uses Eventbrite’s tools to get them through the doors.

In summary? “Eventbrite is inexpensive, it’s flexible, and it’s reliable.”