Updated July 2023
Principles Guiding Conference Location Selection
As background, the Brewers Association staff initiates the Craft Brewers Conference planning process a minimum of 3-5 years before a scheduled event. When working to identify a suitable location, several critical criteria are considered, including:
- Date Availability. Preference for either late April/early May dates in northern cities or March/early April dates in warmer climates, and best efforts to avoid major religious holidays (i.e., Easter, Passover, Ramadan).
- Space. The Craft Brewers Conference requires 400,000 – 600,000 square feet of exhibit space for 8-9 days, plus 20 concurrent + adjacent rooms. This is the equivalent of nearly ten football fields. The number of suitable venues in the country with this amount of space available is limited.
- Hotel Availability and Affordability. A hotel package of a minimum of 4,000 sleeping room nights on peak night that are within walking distance of the conference venue, plus full space in one or two headquarter hotels at which related meetings and events can be held.
- Alcohol Licensing. Agreement from the venue to allow donated products (i.e., beer at beer stations and other locations) and to execute a World Beer Cup with volunteer staffing.
- Travel. The city must have excellent airport access for domestic and international attendees.
- Financial Considerations. Venue rental, advertisement incentives, rebates, and labor costs all factor into the decision-making process.
In summary, given the size and complexity of the conference, there are a limited number of cities that have the capacity to host the Craft Brewers Conference.
2029 and Beyond
The Brewers Association (BA) event staff will work with the BA Event Committee to identify potential host cities based on the above requirements and the following guidelines.
Selection of future (2029 and beyond) locations for the Brewers Association’s Craft Brewers Conference and BrewExpo America endeavors to align with the Brewers Association’s Core Values & Beliefs of Community, Independence, Knowledge, Opportunity, Professionalism, and Sustainability, as well as the BA’s commitment to “continuously adopt and promote organizational practices that are so inclusive, equitable, and just that diversity of all kinds flourishes.” The Brewers Association has articulated the following principles to be considered when selecting locations for its events.
The Brewers Association recognizes that all locations embody a legacy of injustice, including foundational injustices (like slavery, settler colonialism, violent patriarchy, and racial capitalism). Each conference will use the opportunity to recognize the history and progress of the host city. This could be through specific content (for example, conference website pages, sessions, tours, and/or local speakers).
The Brewers Association will seek local jurisdictions that promote equality and equity and that take measures to support and give voice to disadvantaged communities. The Brewers Association will seek to engage with underserved communities and the challenges they face via the continuance of the conference’s Community Engagement Project.
The Brewers Association recognizes that states may differ from their local jurisdictions regarding policies and legislation related to equality and equity. When selecting a host location, the BA will give priority to considering the actions of local jurisdictions/cities within the state. The Brewers Association will continue to seek out a broad range of regions from year to year.
Human Rights Campaign Scorecard
A new metric for selecting future host cities will be incorporated by using the Human Rights Campaign Foundation City Scorecards. At the time a host city/venue is confirmed, it must score:
- 80+ out of 100 total score on the HRC scorecard
- 25+ out of 30 on Q1 Non-Discrimination laws on the HRC scorecard
The host cities for 2024 – 2028 currently meet these standards.
Affordability and Minimization of Environmental Impacts
Acknowledging the motivation of attendees to maintain affordability and minimize environmental impacts, including the minimization of greenhouse gas emissions, the Brewers Association will make every attempt to find locations that are easy to travel to, whether by air or ground. Cities that provide better mobility choices and accessibility will be prioritized. The Brewers Association will engage with the local convention and visitors’ bureau (CVB) and negotiate with venues to continue to seek incentives that can minimize costs.
Hotels and Other Venues
In selecting a conference venue, conference hotel, and other venues for off-site events, The Brewers Association will prioritize hotels and venues that meet minimum meeting and expo space requirements and encourage interaction among members. In addition, selected venue(s) will, as far as the Brewers Association can reasonably be expected to ascertain, minimize environmental impacts, promote and practice and diversity, equity, and inclusion in its operations, as evidenced by its policies and practices. In seeking bids from hotels, the Brewers Association will request that bidders submit evidence of policies and actions that promote diversity and inclusion. In addition, the BA will select hotels, where possible, that show a record of supporting workers’ rights.
Engagement with Local Businesses
The Brewers Association will work with the CVB to identify and compile a list of historically marginalized businesses (for example, indigenous-, LGBTQIA-, minority-, and women-owned) in the local jurisdiction of the event and share this with attendees so that attendees can support those businesses if desired.
Timing of Selection of Location and Hotel Cancelation Policy
Early selection of the host city/venue for the conference can result in favorable contractual terms for the Brewers Association. Based on the size of the event (CBC), a reasonable lead time for selecting a city and venue for the annual conference is 3-5 years. Cancelation clauses are negotiated in the contract to protect the venue through payment of a percentage of the conference’s anticipated revenue to the venue and host hotel(s). These cancelation penalties are standard in the industry. The percentage is higher as the dates of the event draw nearer. Once a host city is selected, even if the HRC scorecard changes and falls outside of the established acceptable range, the event will not be canceled.
After planning for an in-person conference, particularly after signing the hotel contract, the only circumstance in which the Brewers Association would consider shifting from an in-person annual conference to an online conference, or moving locations, would be in the case of “force majeure.” Force majeure includes causes that are beyond the venue and the Brewers Association’s reasonable control. Examples include acts of God, riots, war, terrorist acts, epidemic or pandemic quarantines, civil commotion, breakdown of communication facilities, natural catastrophes, governmental acts or omissions, national strikes, etc.