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These are even better if you brand name or logo is included in the image. Consider that explicit prompts and deliberate pauses in your guest experience will often dramatically increase these!

» Industry relations: While the actual actions in this list may not occur during a visit, these can be tracked in the same way as traditional sales leads. • Yelp Retailer activations • Cocktail menu placements • Media inquiries (earned media)

CAPTURING & ANALYZING YOUR METRICS Someone, or possibly multiple someones, in your company will need to be assigned to capture metrics and generate reports. If this isn’t made explicit it won’t happen. In addition to writing down what you want to know, write down who is responsible for making it happen and when the data needs to be submitted and analyzed. Remember that the day is the unit of time for a visitors program, so having an end of day report which includes all of the data points is usually the easiest way to generate the metrics. Further analysis may be done on weekly, monthly or yearly basis. There are some obvious analysis points for your metrics like low-stock levels for re-ordering and staffing for expected visitor volumes. Both sales and social media interactions should grow over time. But there’s also non-obvious information that’s valuable, too. For example, where on your tour are the majority of pictures taken and shared and do those spots have clear brand identification?

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OKRS & STAFF Staff morale and OKRs have a tight relationship. People want to be successful and whatever OKRs you establish will become the driving force and decision-making framework. Nothing will drive your staff to frustration more than not understanding how they’re being evaluated, so ideally as many metrics as possible should be shared with your visitors center team. Successes should definitely be shared! Like the common front-of-house/back-of-house divide in a restaurant, a distillery visitors center may get divided into tour guides, greeters and ticket sales, gift shop clerks, administrative staff, etc. Having shared goals also increases inter-departmental cooperation and reduces competition. A visitors center employee that I used to work with would always tell the same anecdote to every new hire. He explained that he only became a successful tour guide once he understood that his job wasn’t to give a great tour — his job was to sell bottles. Analysis should be reviewed on a regular, scheduled basis so employees know when to expect feedback and aren’t startled by spontaneous negative feedback or corrective actions. Scheduling review sessions also provides staff with an opportunity to offer suggestions in a format where their ideas can be captured and acted upon. A pre-open daily meeting is a great time for this.

CONFIRMING VALUE Having metrics allows an attempt at a cost-benefits analysis for the visitors program. For very small distilleries with minimum staff who double-duty production and guest services, the retail sales can often easily justify the program. But once dedicated staff are involved, it’s common for a visitors program to run at a loss. Having concrete data determining secondary benefit is critical to getting a solid business return.

Tim Knittel is a bourbon educator, writer and event specialist in Lexington, Kentucky. He formerly managed the culinary and VIP hospitality programs for the Woodford Reserve Distillery. He now runs Distilled Living which provides private bourbon education, brand representation and distillery consulting services. He holds the title Executive Bourbon Steward through the Distilled Spirits Epicenter.

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Artisan Spirit: Winter 2017  
Artisan Spirit: Winter 2017  

The magazine for craft distillers and their fans.