Low and no alcohol drinks: At festivals and in recovery

This post is a listing of some of my recent writings elsewhere. From looking at the date of the previous post I can confirm that I have been busy, with no time to update this blog…

The big thing for Club Soda in the Summer of 2017 was our, and the UK’s, first Mindful Drinking Festival. It was in August at Bermondsey Square in South London, and was a roaring success. Nearly 50 non-alcoholic drinks brands were there, as well as food stalls, beer yoga, talks and tastings, and much more. The weather was on our side too, as the Sunday of the festival was the only sunny day of that and the following week – as seen in the photo above. And we estimated that 2,500 people came to try the drinks on offer. And “mindful drinking” suddenly became a big thing, listed on the Guardian as a “trend”.

There are some images and videos from the festival on Club Soda website. Afterwards, I wrote a guest blog for the  Institute of Alcohol Studies: Club Soda hosts the first-ever Mindful Drinking Festival. I also wrote a guest blog for A hangover free life: Mindful Drinking Festival & Alcohol Free Drinks In Recovery. This article tackles the issue of whether people with alcohol misuse problems should avoid non-alcoholic beers and wines. The Club Soda view is that they can be really helpful in many ways, and it’s only if they trigger you to drink “the real thing” should you avoid them.

CAMRA also had their annual beer festival, and I did my second annual analysis of the alcohol-content of the real ales on offer. The main finding is that the average ABV has gone up slightly from last  year, which I really wasn’t expecting. And the lower-alcohol choice is still more or less non-existent at this event.

And finally, Laura and me did a joint Club Soda Sunday webinar on what we have learned about moderating your drinking habits.

The news for the next two months is that we are organising the second Mindful Drinking Festival, this one a pre-Christmas event, on 24 and 25 November at Spitalfields Market. So I will most likely be too busy to update this blog for a few weeks again…

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Breaking into the NHS

No, not burglary. Digital Catapult had a half-day event on “NHS: The Procurement Minefield” last Monday. The first speaker was Mahiben Maruthappu from NHS England, who listed six big challenges for the NHS, or things that are needed more of: prevention, innovation, self-care, breaking silos and scaling, IT interoperability, and making the financial case. (Most of these sound like they would fit any major organisation really…)

He then listed three focus areas: organisational change to handle new kinds of services and local innovations (no surprise there!), combining innovations to achieve synergies, and achieving national scale. In terms of medical issues, diabetes, cancer and mental health are the three big priorities for the next ten years.

The other speakers weren’t as interesting to my ears, but the panel discussion towards the end had some good nuggets. For example, in answer to a question about how best to get into the NHS as a new service provider, the answers included having inside knowledge, “talking clinical” (i.e. not just business and tech), having a global view, and being adaptable and having perseverance (expect that anything will take years…). Someone even called the NHS “the hardest market to crack”, and recommended going direct to consumers, even if you then have to go to the US and Australia.

Some food for thought there, though mostly confirming the impression I’ve already got from other health and medical startups about the difficulties involved in working (or trying to work, to be more precise?) with the UK national health care system.

An events event

Eventbrite did a survey of event organisers recently. I like surveys, so filled it in out of curiousity mainly. Ok, we do organise quite a few events with Club Soda so I did have genuine responses to offer to the survey.

The survey results are now out, there was also a big event at the Methodist Central Hall one morning last week to announce them. The report findings aren’t that relevant to me or Club Soda, as the responses and focus is more on much bigger things than what I’m involved in organising. But the panel discussion at the event had some interesting nuggets. Such as that not many people think SEO is among the most important event marketing tools for them, when it really should be, at least according to Eventbrite. Apparently they pay a lot of attention to the way their event pages look like to search engines.

Some other points that we’ve also come across were confirmed. For example that email is still the most important method of communication, and that 50% is a good rule of thumb when you try to estimate the drop-out rate between people signing up for events and those actually turning up (for free events at least, paid-for are not quite that bad of course).

And buzzwords that got mentioned enough times for me to wrote them down were: Content! Experiences! Storytelling! Community! User experience! Similarly, “learning from selfies” is a thing: according to one panelist a good aim for an event organiser is to “create selfie opportunities”.