the event organiser, Zephyr Conferences, informed us that Amsterdam would be the last EBBC in its present form.
He spoke first about the main Beer Bloggers & Writers Conference which takes place in the United States, and told us that this event continues to grow, year on year, before making a contrast with the European event. Here attendance figures have stagnated, and this year even fell, but what he didn’t allude to was the fall in numbers might well be down to Zephyr leaving it until quite late in the year (April) to announce the location.
Something had to change, but before telling us what the changes might be, Reno went on to say that the EBBC is the only conference which Zephyr organise which takes place outside North America. It is also their smallest conference, running at about half the size of the North American Beer Bloggers & Writers Conference, which itself is Zephyr’s smallest conference on the other side of the Atlantic.
Society of Independent Brewers. The name of the conference will also be changing to Beer Now. The event coincides with SIBA’s annual BeerX conference and Beer Exhibition, and conference attendees will have free access to the latter, as well as the Awards Presentation.
Zephyr have explained the full rationale behind the change on their website, but insist the move is necessary to ensure the continued viability of a blogger-focused conference. The major change beyond the new name is expanded content. They will still be maintaining an emphasis on blogging and writing and will still offer sessions on social media and such blog-related topics as digital marketing and search engine optimisation.
- Beer bloggers and writers in Europe still have their own conference with content applicable to them. They will have access to expanded content to help expand their industry involvement if they so choose, and will have access to more conference sponsors and industry attendees than were available with the EBBC.
- The beer industry (brewery marketing, communications, and tap room managers; brewery associations; tourism promotion agencies; beer tour operators; etc) has a new conference focused on a side of today’s beer industry (marketing, tourism, and communications) that is under-served in terms of industry training. Plus, sponsors and attendees of Beer Now will have access to the extremely influential beer bloggers and writers who attend.
- Zephyr Conferences will gain an expanded base of attendees and sponsors that should make the conference viable into the future.
Although I realise such thoughts were probably far from Zephyr Conference’s mind, the conference retreating to the UK sends out the wrong sorts of signals, especially at a time when Britain has very narrowly (and very foolishly), voted to turn its back on Europe. Confining the conference to the UK will only add to this sense of casting the Anglo-Saxon world adrift from the rest of Europe, and will just increase the sense of isolation which many pro-Europeans, like me, have felt since the referendum.
I am undecided, at present, about attending Beer Now. I often go away in March, as with spring in the air, or just around the corner, it is a good time of year for taking a short break. Last March I went to Barcelona, and the year before I went to Berlin. Sorry everyone, but Sheffield somehow doesn’t quite have the same appeal! I will however, be keeping a close eye on the attendance list to see which, if any, familiar faces have signed up, and this may well influence my decision one way or the other. As I said before, the social side of these conferences is something which appeals to me even more than the actual content.
From my point of view it will be interesting to view the continuously evolving beer scene in North America and experience a small part of it at first hand. From a more personal perspective, the event will also give me the chance of visiting my sister and brother-in-law, once the conference and excursions have finished.