Saturday, July 26, 2008

What Did YOU Think About this year’s Tales of the Cocktail?

I heard feedback from a range of mixologists and bartenders who attended seminars at Tales of the Cocktail, all week. A few sentiments were repeated again, and again. Here are the things I heard, and some of my suggested solutions. What are yours?

Complaint #1: The content of the seminars. Overall, attendees love the topics covered. However, some experienced bartenders were hoping to be more challenged but found the information presented redundant and elementary.

Suggested Solution: Tales of the Cocktail is a wonderful gathering because the general public (ie: novices) are welcome to learn alongside experts in the field. It would be a shame to lose this aspect because it is part of what makes Tales so special. I suggest dividing the seminars into: “Enthusiast” and “Expert” categories, and let the attendees choose according to their own experience level.

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Complaint #2: Overcrowding. As a member of the “media” covering the 5-day event who got a free pass to any seminar of my choosing, I hate to shoot myself in the foot with this one. However, it is understandable that people who paid between $40 - $85 to attend – and found themselves without a seat and NO cocktail samples – would be upset by the overcrowding.

Suggested Solution: Limit the number of “free” entrants to each seminar and make presenters, Vip’s and press RSVP. Set aside a certain number of seats for them, and make sure that there are enough seats for paying attendees. Most importantly – have a qualified person standing at the door to check people off the list as they arrive. It is more work when organizing these seminars – but keeping people happy will keep them coming back year after year.

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Complaint #3: Piggyback events. It is pretty sad that some liquor companies would set up parties around New Orleans during the Tales week - but not support Tales of the Cocktail. I mean, that's low. Yeah, yeah, its “business” and they want to put out the least amount of money to take advantage of all the cocktail industry in one place --- but, seriously, it just make you look like cheapskates. (You know who you are.)

Suggested Solution: Give liquor companies sponsoring Tales of the Cocktail a special “Tales ;09 Approved” rating to place on their invitations, websites and other marketing material leading up to our annual festival. That way, we know who is truly has the ‘Tales spirit’ and who is merely a tacky imitation.

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What are YOUR complaints and suggestions? Post them in the "comments" at the bottom of this post.

4 comments:

MikeUnruh said...

Tales seems to be overflowing. Talk about a great problem to have; however, one that still needs to be managed. The Hotel Monteleone is an incredible venue, and should continue to be the "home base" for operations, but it seems inevitable that other locations will have to be considered to host seminars and tastings. There is a Holiday Inn on a few doors down on Royal St. (Rue Royale), and nearby Arnaud's hosted the Ministry of Rum event this year. What are your thoughts?

gwen sutherland kaiser said...

thanks for thinking of me nat : ) it looks like a lotta fun and i would love to be there next year... cheers, gwen

Samantha said...

I agree about the Hotel Monteleone. The building (with only two elevators going to the busy top floors) is just not designed to hold that kind of crowd. Perhaps having seminars spill over into another venue in short walking distance would be a good idea. Another suggestion-make the room locations for sessions more clear. This year, they weren't printed on the tickets, and you had to ask where every session was. I'm sure things will be more organized next year.

camper said...

I also think they could stagger the tasting rooms so that they're not starting and stopping at the same time as the seminars. But then again, that might cause tasting room pile-up.

Almost every event seemed packed this year- I left almost every party or didn't go in due to overcrowding- so something's gotta give.