5 easy steps for choosing the best brewery and winery management software for events
For most producers of wine, beer and spirits, the main source of revenue for your business is your bottled (or canned) product, so most of the technology you have in place supports this revenue stream and probably includes applications like vineyard or brewery management software for production, winery POS systems and email/marketing management tools (such as MailChimp or Hubspot).
However, many wineries, breweries and distilleries (and especially those that have larger spaces, tasing rooms, kitchens and/or on-site sales and tours) have discovered that a second lucrative source of revenue is renting out their spaces for private events. With regard to the tools for running this side of the business, you will find that many brewery or winery management software systems don’t offer a complete solution for tracking the potentially hundreds of details involved in running a private events book-of-business.
So this begs the question....
Why is brewery and winery venue management software important?
Granted, more than a few vineyards and brewpubs run their private events with spreadsheets, email, legal pads and a handful of stand-alone apps (calendars, accounting software, etc.). If your private events division is just getting started or if you book only a few events and don’t intend on building this revenue stream, then this setup may be adequate.
But if you want to ramp up your special events business and make it a major source of revenue for your facility, winery and brewery venue management software offer several big advantages, including the ability to...
- Centralize all your private event details in one place so they’re easy to manage and nothing gets lost.
- Streamline your processes so that you and your staff waste less time on busywork.
- Manage staff members, suppliers and vendors more easily and collaborate with prospects and clients effortlessly.
- Automate business practices like lead management, quotes and billing.
- Impress clients with professionally branded documents and a clean, modern portal with which to interact with you.
In the end, winery and brewery management software for events will allow you to book more events and generate more revenues because it lets you and your staff manage more bookings with less effort and makes sure that revenues don’t fall through the cracks (due to lack of follow-up/follow-through with leads, double bookings, lost notes/emails, poor bookkeeping, etc.).
So how do you start in picking a brewery or vineyard management software for events? Let’s break this down into five easy steps.
1. Identify your data management and business needs
Not every winery, craft brewery or distillery is the same or runs their events in the same way. Some operate multiple spaces or rooms ... others only have one large area to rent. Some have their own in-house kitchens or catering service ... others outsource food-and-beverage preparation. Some manage their own inventory and rentals ... others use vendors to provide equipment, tables, chairs, etc. Some have other software apps they use for accounting, marketing, etc., and need an events software to integrate with those ... others need a more self-contained all-in-one solution.
With that said, you should first sit down and draw up a list of things that you want a piece of software to help you accomplish. These could be business or operational tasks (like track revenues, collect payments or manage staff) or more administrative (track booking dates, create BEOs, etc.). Be as specific as possible because this list will turn into a features wish list for when you are comparing winery and brewery venue management software platforms.
Also, make sure to set an initial budget as to what you can reasonably afford to pay for such an application (and remember that the old saw "you get what you pay for" definitely applies to software like this ... meaning that anything that seems cheap probably won’t meet your needs in the long term).
2. Be aware of "must-have" features
There’s a phrase in business that the fact that "you don’t know what you don’t know" can be the thing that’s holding you back. So once you have finished your list of features that you want, there may also be tools or features that you didn’t think of that could really help set you apart and grow your private events revenues.
With that said, here’s the short list of must-have features that you should expect any winery or brewery management software for events to have:
- Event scheduling software tools - Bookings, appointments and reservations managed in one calendar, in one place.
- Catering apps - Food-and-beverage item libraries (w/ descriptions, recipes, portion sizes, unit costs), reusable F&B package templates, custom food-and-beverage menus, BEOs, headcounts.
- Event management apps - Timelines/schedules, budgeting, guest lists, registrations/RSVPs.
- Staff/client communications - Emailing tool with integrations for your existing email addresses or platform, online access for other users, task assignments/reminders, shared calendars.
- Sales and lead management - Lead widgets, CRM, proposals, contracts, e-signatures.
- Billing and payments - Invoicing, packages, scheduled payments, online credit card processing.
- Floor plan setups - Room/space designs with allocated equipment/furniture ... great for logistics management.
- Data intelligence - Dashboards and comprehensive reports on finances, revenues, bookings, facility usage.
- Vendor management - Vendor CRM, assignments, collaboration, costing.
- Mobile friendly - Web-based version or app for smartphones and tablets as well as desktops.
- Event registration and ticketing - Online registration forms, online payment processing, printable tickets, at-the-door event check-in with ticket scanner.
3. Build a comparison spreadsheet
This spreadsheet will be your master document for comparing options, so you should set it up so that your desired and "must-have" features are in rows and software applications are in columns. This way when you are researching options, all you have to do is add a column for each potential provider and start checking off boxes of what they do and don’t provide.
4. Compile a list of potential vendors
There are two great places to start in compiling a list of brewery and winery venue management software solutions. First, search the Internet for companies that provide this type of software. You should not only review the actual software sites but also look for events industry websites, blog posts, software reviews and discussion boards to see what professionals like you are using and what they recommend.
Second, start asking your peers in the industry as to what they have seen, used and/or would recommend. Word-of-mouth advice and feedback is always some of the best guidance you can receive, so make sure to reach out to vendors and other venues to see what they use.
5. Test drive the platforms that align with your needs
When you are researching brewery and winery management software for events, also inquire if the applications offer a demo or free trial so you can see for yourself if the platform is going to meet your needs.
Granted, getting an up-close look at software platforms does take time, but this is a crucial step in the review process and should not be skipped. The reason for this is whatever application you choose will require setup and have a learning curve, and once you have learned it and gotten set up, all your data will be housed in that application. You then don’t want to have to move all your data and relearn another application if the first one didn’t mesh with you and your team ... that’s just lots of wasted time.
So when you are demoing brewery or vineyard software for events, take a good look at the interface and how it’s organized. Is it inviting? Professional? Are things labeled well? Is it easy to navigate? Also, make sure to ask how the platform is supported. Does it require training? Do they offer customer support?
Once you have answered all these questions, you are ready to move forward and implement a solution that truly fits your facility.