Growing your Brewery/Taproom

The Value of Flights

The Value Of Flights In Your Taproom

This will be the third time (previously here and here) that we have shared articles related to the value of flights in the taproom. It not only increases overall revenue, but can also lead to increased tips for your staff as discussed below.  So, in this light, we share “The value of ‘Can I get you started with a flight?’ on taproom tabs” from Craft Brewing Business.

Flights. You probably has a love/hate relationship with them. Your favorite thing to pour on a busy Saturday? Doubtful. A strong way to build a connection with a guest and discover what’s right for them? Absolutely.

In this article, Andrew Coplon will explore flight data from 2018-2022, excluding 2020. We will dive into a data set of 8,447 unique taproom visits from 2018 to 2022. In each of these visits, we look at the question, “Did the staff suggest starting with a flight?” and analyze its financial and experiential impact.

  • In 2018, staff suggested flights on 36% of visits.
  • In 2022, this action only occurred 25% of the time.
Flights chart 1

From Brewers Association U.S. Craft Brewery Count data, the number of breweries in the United States has increased by 25% over this period. The sheer growth in number of taprooms increases awareness of craft beer, and one theory is that staff are encouraging fewer flights because they believe their guests are more familiar with brewery offerings. However, greater familiarity doesn’t mean there isn’t still value for both the guest and brewery to continue encouraging flights.

The data on flights

A flight is the action of encouraging a guest to explore your menu and find what is right for them — and from the new beer drinker to the beer nerd, we all are in search of the right pint.

Despite a trend in staff less frequently encouraging flights, there is financial data to support they should.

In 2018, when staff suggested starting with a flight, guests spent 22% more than guests who were not encouraged to begin with a flight ($48.48 vs $39.82). In 2022, when staff suggested starting with a flight, guests spent 27% more than guests who were not encouraged to begin with a flight.

flight spending chart

For the staff encouraging a flight, will they see higher tips?

Yes. In 2018, these staff members received tips on average 7% higher. This has since lowered in 2022 to a percent increase of 3% in situations when flights are suggested vs. not encouraged. Higher tips are a benefit of greater engagement.

The argument can be made that if a guest is assisted in finding the right beer for them, they’ll spend more money – and the data backs this. Additionally, not only will the guest spend more money in your taproom when encouraged to begin with a flight, but also they’re more likely to purchase beer to go.

The to-go beer multiplier

Looking specifically at 2021 and 2022, when a guest isn’t encouraged to start with a flight, they purchase to-go beer on 17% of taproom visits. Guests who are suggested a flight are 40% more likely to purchase to-go beer. Tab size differs from $66.30, when a guest is suggested a flight and orders to go, vs $47.13, when they are not suggested a flight and do not purchase to go. Tabs are 40% higher.

Diving deeper into the correlation between flights and to go sales, we look at how often those who are suggesting flights are also encouraging to go beer. 34% of visits where staff encourage flights also see staff suggest to go. Staff are 109% more likely to encourage to-go beer if they have already suggested a flight.

This makes sense. These are both habits of staff engaging at a higher level. Thus, a staff member who is demonstrating behaviors designed to deepen relationships would be more likely to stack these actions.

Guests are a ridiculous 457% more likely to purchase to-go beer when staff suggest a flight and to-go beer vs. when neither action takes place. The increase in tab size is 44%.

To reiterate …

Going from a visit that doesn’t encourage either flights or to-go beer to a visit that encourages both, increases the likelihood of the guest purchasing to-go beer by 457% in this dataset.

So, repeat after me:

Can I get you started with a flight? ….Would you like to take any home?

Can I get you started with a flight? ….Would you like to take any home?

Can I get you started with a flight? ….Would you like to take any home?

Fun fact: In these “flight + encourage to-go = purchase to-go” situations, the guest tips 8% higher too. Engagement goes a long way.

Trends in flight

Staff are encouraging flights 30% less in 2022 than 2018, guests are spending 27% more when staff suggest a flight.

And to clarify, our study is looking at the action of staff asking a question vs. the guest making the purchase. Simply asking this question, and others, are attributes of staff that engage at a higher level. Because of this perceived level of high engagement, which is a result of a checklist of little behaviors (i.e. suggesting flights, offering recommendations, encouraging to go), the average guest spends more.

So, am I suggesting that guests always be encouraged to start with a flight? Not necessarily, but it may be a place to start. The importance of building relationships and using context clues is what really matters most.

Here’s a quick list of when to consider offering a flight:

  • You don’t recognize the guest.
  • The guest says they haven’t visited before.
  • The guest appears confused about the ordering experience.
  • The guest appears unsure of what they want.
  • The guest has questions about the menu.
  • Your taproom has a large selection.
  • Your taproom has a rotating menu.

Don’t like selling flights? Consider half pours (we’re not going to even discuss tasters in this one).

No guest will ever leave your taproom upset that you didn’t encourage to-go beer. And no guest will ever get upset that you suggested a flight. Plus, it is a valuable tool to learn what your guests enjoy on the quest to make them your next, best regular.

Not sold on flights yet?

Comparing “flight vs. no flight” visits from 2021 and 2022, we get granular and look strictly at those visits that the guest perceived as high engagement.

  • The guests that received high engagement and were not suggested to begin with a flight, the average tab was $49.76.
  • The guests that received high engagement and were suggested to being with a flight, the average tab was $60.41.

A flight is an opportunity for you to share more about your brewery and deepen your connection with a guest. Katy Creech of the Glass Jug Beer Lab taught me one of my favorite new questions to ask a guest: “What are you in the mood for?’ A flight may be the answer.

The data in this piece was collected from a set of 2,244 unique taproom visits from April 1, 2021 to November 14, 2022 and 6,203 unique taproom visits from January 1, 2018 to November 14, 2022. Each visit represents an average of 1.9 guests and the total spend includes tip.

Attribution: Article Retrieved from Craft Brewing Business, written By Andrew Coplon .

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