COVID-19 did its best to gum up the travel industry in 2020. Wanderlusting globetrotters everywhere found themselves glumly confined to their couches, relegated to longing stares at photos of festivals past, wondering when, if ever, their travels can resume. Now, at long last, vaccination efforts are beginning to make a dent in case numbers, and the idea of responsible travel is becoming more tangible. Many individuals remain wary of air travel, but the adventure, freedom, and romance of a great American road trip presents a safe, responsible, and fun alternative way to shake the quarantine cobwebs loose this summer.
The increase in car, RV, and camper travelers creates a unique opportunity for gas stations, convenience stores, and other businesses who offer services, food, and drink to highway-bound trekkers. To help you capitalize, we’ve got these tips on how your C-store can ready itself to meet demand.
Keep the Essentials Stocked
Many road-trippers remain conscious of COVID-19. By ensuring your shelves are stocked with the basics, such as hand sanitizer, cloth and/or disposable face coverings, toilet paper, and so on, you let your potential customers know that you have anticipated concerns, and take their safety seriously. This creates a first impression of courteousness and hospitality and makes clients more likely to stock up on other essentials, like beer, bottled water, sunscreen, etc. An excellent case can be made for chains who hold locations all across the country as well. If a traveler has a great experience at one of your brand’s locations in Arkansas, chances are, they will feel confident pulling off again when they notice your logo on a highway sign later on in their trek.
The Appeal of “Grab & Go”
Though we’re all aware of the old adage about the journey and the destination, patience is becoming a forgotten virtue. Our increasingly digitized existences have reduced attention spans below that of a goldfish, and you can count on a decent portion of your clientele barreling into the store like would-be Super Toy Run contestants, grabbing what they need, and rushing back to the car to save the three minutes they’ve “made back” in their high-speed race with their Waze app’s ETA. You can also show clients you’ve anticipated antsy “are we there yet” feelings by stocking a convenient, quick “Grab & Go” section with snacks, energy drinks, and other high-speed fare. You’ll satisfy time-crunched patrons faster, and more efficiently.
These time-strapped travelers are becoming the norm, so gone are the days in which shops could rely on byzantine payment methods for backdoor deliveries. Consider the same “High-Waze Star” from the earlier example. The last thing these customers want to do is to wait for you to run a paper check out to your beer distributor. Instead, automate alcohol invoice payments with an electronic payment provider, like Fintech. Then, you can eliminate the manual payments that keep you from your customers and get them back to their travels faster.
Sizzling Summer Seasonals
Regional tastes often dictate trends in alcohol and beverage sales. On the coasts, cocktails are preferred, while Midwesterners prefer beer. New Hampshire claims the title of “Booziest State,” with its citizens (somehow) guzzling an average of 6.7 gallons of wine, and 3.8 gallons of liquor – each, annually. With Fintech, businesses can identify top products for their locations and turn data into tactical decision-making tools to stock on-trend items, from mainstream items down to local craft favorites. By keeping tabs (no pun intended) on what’s best-loved in your area, you can offer passers-through an opportunity to “do as the Romans do,” and take a sip of something the locals prefer.
Events on the Horizon
As vaccination rates climb, solivagants nationwide are setting their sights on upcoming events and making travel plans. Keep an eye on events in your area, so your location can be prepared to meet the needs of these varying audiences, and help guide travelers to the best experiences possible. Here are a few upcoming events we’ve got an eye on:
Mammoth Festival of Beers and Bluesapalooza
Mammoth Lake, California | June 18-19, 2021
The Mammoth Festival Beers & Bluesaplooza is in Mammoth Lakes, CA, a beautiful mountain resort town located near Yosemite National Park in the cool Eastern High Sierra off Highway 395. There’re world-class golf courses, mountain biking, fishing, hiking, and resort facilities. It’s the perfect place to spend a “blues and brews” weekend. Outdoors among the pines at The Woods at Mammoth Lakes—four days of incredible music and the best craft breweries in the country.
The Kentucky Bourbon Festival
Bardstown, KY | September 15-19, 2021
Kentucky, with its fertile soil, perfect climate, and pure water is the soul of bourbon – so what better place is there for a bourbon festival considered one of ‘the 10 best drinking festivals in the world’? At this event, small, medium, and large distilleries attend to join in on the bourbon celebrations and present their individual bourbons for tasting and teaching.
The Great American Beer Festival
Denver, CO | October 6-8, 2022
Welcome to the Great American Beer Festival, the granddaddy of all beer events and the number one destination for beer fans and sommeliers. Considered one of the 10 best drinking festivals in the world, the annual three-day event invites visitors from all corners of the globe to try thousands of American craft beer varieties in the biggest collection of beer ever served in the United States.