Last week we had the pleasure of heading over to the 2019 Great British Beer Festival. Self-proclaimed as THE live beer experience hosting over 1,000 British and international beers, ciders and perries.

We were interested to investigate a beer festival as one market we haven’t explored yet is the food and drink sector.

Beer, Food, Beer and Beer

Upon entering Kensington Olympia, we were taken back by just how different the space looked. It’s interesting how different industries utilise the space and can transform a venue to cater for their needs.

Tiny Rebel

The first hall was set up with a giant bar in the centre and a range of themed food and merch stalls dotted about. Whereas the second hall had a multitude of smaller bars situated allowing brands to differentiate themselves. With specific branded stands representing their brand’s aesthetics to draw in the right audiences.

On offer were a number of street food vendors all loosely related to pub grub however the range really was quite vast. From pickled eggs and scotch bonnet picklebacks to pulled pork baps and Cornish pasties.


GBBF Potential

Although there was a captive audience at this event, either by the design of this year’s host CAMRA or by accident, there were not many stalls there outside of food, beer and related merchandise.

What stalls were there were all charity related, perhaps a deliberate decision giving the likely economic demographic of the audience (predominantly men 30-60).

The thing that surprised us the most was the number of missed opportunities where data capture could be incorporated and it wouldn’t feel ham-fisted. For instance, a number of pub themed games were available for people to participate in.

Pub games included beer pong, bean bag toss and Devil among the tailors (possibly the most unapologetically cockney name for a pub game name). The point is that these were all available to play but not once were we asked to enter an email address or had our barcodes scanned because we didn’t have any.

Beer Pong

At every other event we witness brands going out of their way to encourage customers to part with their precious data. Whether its through incentives or the previously mentioned gamification. Whereas at the Great British Beer Festival they have the infrastructure already in place but the data capture aspect is just not present.

The games exist simply to play while you have a drink and probably lure you to one stand instead of another. There is something quite wholesome and innocent about the whole thing showing great sensitivity to their enthusiast audience, but we can’t help but think the opportunity to really increase exhibitor’s ROI has been missed.


We did come across some instances of data capture in the few non-beer related stalls driving sign-ups for charities. They implemented a digital data capture solution taking customer information on a tablet. A thumbs up from us to the charities, but having signed up and still not received a confirmation email over 5 days later is perhaps another missed opportunity…

The fact that there are industries out there that we as a company can still help is very exciting and we look forward to heading back next year for a cheeky pint or two.

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