Earlier this month, we decided our very own Alexi Merkis could use a little sun, and we figured a trip to the annual Beer Marketing & Tourism Conference (BMTC) in beautiful St. Petersburg, FL, would do the trick.
The BMTC is focused on helping breweries, beer tour operators, and destination marketing organizations learn about how to promote and run beer-based events, so it made sense for Alexi, our first full-time staff member, and HOP-erations manager, to check it out.
Our fearless founder Brad Campeau had attended the event for the previous two years and had found the experience of communicating directly with other tour operators to be extremely beneficial for the growth and development of our curated tours.
This year’s conference was no exception. Alexi spent four days completely immersed in beer.
Well, not literally. You get the idea.
From learning about the current state of the beer tourism industry to studying tour and event best practices, he stayed busy every day and came home full of exciting ideas and plans for Brew Donkey.
The learning and collaboration continued after hours since Alexi was sharing an Airbnb with four other tour operators. Although their late-night conversations were always about work, they never felt like it. This is the beer industry, after all.
Alexi and his new friends took plenty of opportunities to get out and explore the area, doubling down on their study of its beer offerings to sample the cuisine as well. Some of Alexi’s favorite memories from the week are from these unscripted moments spent forming amazing friendships.
Of course, no trip to the BMTC would be complete without sampling the local taps. Pelican Brewery Tours was kind enough to show Alexi and his group the best that St. Petersburg has to offer on a fun tour the day before the conference began. The conference itself also included plenty of opportunities for taste tests, from the opening reception at local hotspot 3 Daughters Brewing to breakout sessions that included samples of the beverages being discussed.
Next year’s conference will be held in Richmond, VA, and we’re already counting down the days. Richmond is only a 13-hour drive from Ottawa, so we’re planning to take a road trip and check out some top-notch breweries on the way. Perks of the job, right?
To hear more about Alexi’s conference experience, book a tour with us! Just ask us and we’ll give you the play by play of his amazing experience. Book a tour here: https://www.brewdonkey.ca/pages/browse-tours