Case Study: Digital vs. Paper Passports

The Charlottesville Ale Trail was launched in September 2018 with a paper passport program. Like most passports, customers could claim a stamp at each brewery on the trail by purchasing food or a beverage. Once a customer had acquired stamps from all of the breweries on the trail, s/he could email a selfie with their completed passport to receive a gift.

Charlottesville Ale Trail customers show off their paper passports

The Charlottesville Ale Trail encompasses 6 breweries and has since its inception. Completing the passport can be done over a weekend, but it’s also fine to take your time. Either way, the size of the trail makes completing the passport very achievable.

Charlottesville Ale Trail map

During its first year, 188 paper passports were completed, and by the time COVID-19 hit in March of 2020, the Charlottesville Ale Trail had received 325 completed passports. 

In March of 2021, the Charlottesville Ale Trail started using LoyalBrew for a digital version of their passport. A paper version of the passport continued to be offered as an option. Either way, the same number of breweries existed on the trail, so it wasn’t any easier or more difficult to complete the digital version of the passport. The only difference was the medium, which made all the difference in the world.

Charlottesville Ale Trail digital passport

After one year of using LoyalBrew, 460 digital passports were completed. That’s almost two and a half times the amount of paper passports completed during the first year.

Paper vs. Digital

Charlottesville Ale Trail completed passports (Year 1 comparison)

The Charlottesville Ale Trail averaged over 38 completed digital passports per month during COVID-19 compared to 18 completed paper passports per month pre-COVID. There was also a decrease in paper passport usage in general. On average, 7.6 paper passports were completed per month alongside the use of LoyalBrew during year one.

Navigation our digital passport

Thanks to LoyalBrew, the Charlottesville Ale Trail can report that visitors from over 40 states have enjoyed at least a portion of their beer trail. In addition, close to 5,000 stamps (or beers) have been claimed (consumed). With paper passports, the sample size is astronomically smaller because you are only working with completed passports. Therefore, LoyalBrew enables the organizations who run trails to make better decisions around where to target their marketing campaigns.

The Impact of COVID-19

COVID-19 certainly influenced the Charlottesville Ale Trail’s decision to move to digital. Paper passports require direct interaction with wait staff and this contact was a major concern for most people during the early stages of the pandemic. One of the ways that restaurants and breweries addressed this concern was the use of QR codes to access information like menus. Before COVID-19, QR codes were not widely accepted by customers. Now everyone knows how to use one. 

Digital Passport via QR code

LoyalBrew can easily be accessed via a QR code. It’s not a mobile app that you have to ask customers to find and download from the app store. It can easily be shared via social media, email, or a website. The retention rate of a food and beverage mobile app is 3.9% after 30 days. With LoyalBrew, businesses don’t have to worry about whether customers will keep or delete the app on their phone. It can always be accessed while on-premise via QR code. 

Once LoyalBrew is accessed, it also doesn’t require any contact from wait staff. Using location-verification and/or photographs, customers can claim stamps with ease. While having a contactless passport was critical in the beginning stages of COVID-19, its real value is the time saved by wait staff because they do not have to deal with stamping passports.

Enjoying the Charlottesville Ale Trail

Last, but certainly not least, paper passports have never been ideal for locals. Locals are less likely to complete a passport in a weekend, but they are just as motivated to finish a passport as long as it’s on their timeline. Paper passports are more likely to be lost if they are used for longer than a weekend. A digital passport changes that dynamic, especially one as easy to access as LoyalBrew.

Before LoyalBrew, 29% of the Charlottesville Ale Trail’s completed paper passports were from locals. After LoyalBrew, that completion number has jumped to 37% and close to 50% of the total number of passports started are from locals.

That gives the team behind the Charlottesville Ale Trail a lot to smile about.

Local enjoying the Charlottesville Ale Trail