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Guide for a Cocktail Making Class or Wine Tasting as a Virtual Event Activation

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How to Guide Blog Post

We recently hosted two special Level Up groups where members participated in a virtual wine tasting and a virtual cocktail making class (read about highlights from those events here). Activations like these can be used as engaging, community building, networking experiences and can be a driver of revenue and/or audience building. Here is our how to guide for organizing one of your own.

H2K Wine Tasting Gift Bag

Considerations During Preliminary Planning

​Before you set a date and pick a vendor, make sure you’ve considered the following:

  • Lead Time - How much lead time do you need to select a vendor, recruit participants, ship materials, and prep your run of show?
  • Bandwidth - Does your team have the bandwidth to prepare for this event? This includes managing the vendor and communicating with registrants pre, post, and during the event.
  • Shipping - What items will you be shipping? Are you shipping internationally, domestically, or both?
  • Class Size - How many participants are you aiming for? What’s your max?
  • Attendee Registrations - Who is your target attendee and what is your plan to get registrations?
  • Run of Show -  How long is the event going to last? What other activities, presentations, etc. are you planning on building into the run of show and how long will each of those last?
  • Branding - What branding opportunities are you going to incorporate?
  • Budget - What is your budget? Consider internal team time, vendor cost, branded items, shipping cost, etc.

Choosing A Partner

It’s important to consider the following when selecting a vendor to help facilitate your virtual class:

  • The Relationship - Is the vendor interested in a long-term relationship that is mutually beneficial? In other words, one where they benefit from all of the leads you’re handing to them and in turn give you discounts, complimentary items, etc.
  • Personality - Make sure the class isn’t too serious and is focused more on creating an engaging experience rather than being super structured and perfect.
  • Items Included - Determine what, if anything, the vendor can ship to participants - alcohol, drink ingredients, drink-making tools, snacks, etc.
  • Customization - Ask whether your partner can customize the shipment to include branded materials or even customize the packaging itself.
  • Shipping Options - Consider which countries the vendor is able to ship to and the associated fees.
  • Class Format - What lengths of classes does the vendor offer? How many drinks can participants make/wines can they taste?
  • +1s - Are participants’ friends and family allowed to join in if they’re in the same home or does that come at an additional cost?
  • Gamification - Does the vendor provide opportunities to gamify the event such as trivia, polling, spotlighting, or playlists?
  • Timeline - What is the deadline for getting your full participant list in and does it align with your internal timeline?
  • Hosting Capabilities - Does the partner allow you to host on your own platform (Zoom, Microsoft Teams, etc.) or do they need to host on theirs?
  • Pricing - Last but not least, how much does it all cost?

Screenshot of H2K Wine Tatsing

To Wine or to Cocktail? Choosing Which Class Is Better For You

Wine Tasting
Cocktail Class
Less complicated in terms of what materials participants need to have (glasses and opener) and what they need to do (simply open their wine and taste)
​More intricate because participants have to make the cocktails during the class, and have all ingredients & cocktail making tools on hand ahead of time
Better for an executive level or formal crowd
Better for a more go with the flow crowd
Can accommodate a larger number of people
Well suited to a smaller group as there are more steps involved in learning how to make the cocktail and too many participants can make it hard to listen to instructions
Not great for non-drinkers
Good for non-drinkers as participants can make mocktails
Works best when all participants have the same wines
Alcohol types varied / interchangeable

​You can also choose to forgo anything related to alcohol and do something like a cooking or coffee making class.

H2K Influencer Marketing Presentation

Communication With Participants
  • Bio Slides - Create and distribute a deck with everyone who has registered (including bio, contact information, headshot, etc.) so attendees are aware of who will be joining them. This gets participants excited about connecting with others in their field and deters cancellations as people are eager to network.
  • Run of Show & Ground Rules - Provide a run of show that is clear about timing of each segment of the class and inform participants of the rules of participation, how to ask questions, chat with each other, etc.
  • Accessing the Class - Ensure participants understand how to access the class and send a calendar placeholder out so everyone has the event blocked off on their calendar.
  • Class Preparation - Remind participants what to have on hand at the start of the event (ice, glasses, wine opener, etc.).
  • Package Tracking - Provide tracking information for the package and what to do once participants receive it.
  • Drink Descriptions - For cocktail making classes, send the drink recipes ahead of time so participants can reference these in case they miss an instruction. For wine classes, send the descriptions of the wines before the class so they know what they’ll be tasting.

Screenshot of H2K Team

Virtual Game

Best Practices & Key Reminders

Shipping

  • Confirm what information your vendor needs to ship to participants and ensure you’re collecting that information at registration.
  • Don’t turn away a participant if they’re out of the geographic region your vendor can ship to. For wine tastings, provide them with the list of wines ahead of time so they can purchase on their own. For cocktail making classes, provide participants with a list of alcohols, ingredients (as well as alternatives to those ingredients), and alternative cocktail making tools. In both cases, look for stores or delivery services that can get the person what they need easily.
  • Double check that the mailing address participants put in is their personal address, not their business address (or confirm they are able to receive the package at their business address).
  • Request tracking numbers from your vendor once they’ve shipped the package to ensure it arrives on time and double check with participants that they have received it.
  • Pay attention to state regulations when it comes to shipping (for example, Utah does not allow shipments of alcohol from out of state).
  • Look up cheaper ways to ship internationally besides FedEx. 

Branding Ideas
  • Provide a branded gift card from sponsors for participants to buy the alcohol.
  • Create logoed glasses, cocktail shakers, koozies, etc. for participants to use during the class.
  • Upload a custom Zoom background for during the event so participants know who is from your team and to give the class a more official feel.
  • Include a company brochure in the materials package explaining your services etc.
  • Handwrite notes to participants to make the package extra personal.

Ideas for your run of show
  • Spotlight participants throughout the event.
  • Have everyone hold up their (branded) glasses for a screenshot that you can use in future marketing materials.
  • Incorporate a community building activity like trivia.
  • Present a fast pitch of a new product before the start of the class.
  • Have a guest speaker do a rapid fire on a topic relevant to participants.
  • Launch polls to keep participants engaged.
  • Create opportunities for smaller roundtables or breakout rooms.

Blocking & Timing
  • Keep in mind the different time zones your attendees are in when setting the event time
  • Events like these should range from 1-2 hours in length, giving participants a chance to loosen up, get to know each other, and immerse themselves in the experience while also keeping in mind their work/personal obligations.
  • Make sure you allot enough time for Q&A with the vendor as well as time for people to chat in between drinks.
  • Budget for an extra 5 minutes in between segments in case presenters go over.

Day of Event
  • Expect some last minute cancellations.
  • Expect people to pop in and out and don’t make the class so rigid that people will be confused or feel awkward if they’re late or need to leave early.

After Event
  • Send participants a thank you note.
  • Distribute a feedback survey and plan your next virtual activation based on the responses you receive. 
  • Provide vendor contact details as well as any additional information about the drinks participants had.
  • Share a playlist people can listen to when making their cocktails or enjoying their wine in the future.
 
Takeaways

So, what’s the value of putting together this type of event?
  • Great Turnout - You’ll see a lower rate of dropoff/cancellations because you’re shipping items to participants and sharing who will be there ahead of time, holding them accountable to show up.
  • Socialization & Interaction - Events using this format encourage socialization and interaction. We saw a big jump in the level of participant interaction as members participated in a shared experience (drinking the same thing, learning at the same time).
  • Customizable - There are a plethora of branding opportunities and you can curate the event around your goals (engaging clients at the bottom of the funnel, acting as the connector between buyers and sellers, a custom, bespoke event service, short and sweet vs. more thorough, etc.)
  • Versatile - Can be used in several different contexts and isn’t industry specific.
  • Fun & Memorable - Compared to traditional business meetings, participants have an easier time networking in this more laid back context. Participants will remember their experience as these dynamic virtual classes are a different type of Zoom call than they are used to in their day to day. 
  • Beneficial Long-Term - Learning how to host a wine tasting or cocktail making class for your constituents isn’t just important for the short term. These types of activations can be leveraged for in-person and hybrid events as well.

Need vendor recommendations? Check out our recommendations quick list.

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