|Our research at WISE, especially emphasized by our 1,500-plus mystery shops in tasting rooms, indicates that when a guest has a great experience (the customer satisfaction is high), he or she is more likely to purchase. In a nutshell, the better the guest experience, the greater potential for sales. Sounds easy, right? There are a lot of factors that can affect the guest experience, and if we aren’t managing them, we may unknowingly be setting ourselves up for failure.
||September 2014 saw an early harvest in most parts of California, lower yields but high quality in Washington and Oregon, a difficult winter warmed by summer sun in New York, and low yields but good quality for Texas. From a business point of view, the North American wine industry is in great shape as consumption increases, and wine tourism is the best it’s ever been. I have seen quite a few wineries hosting trade evenings, for which other wineries’ tasting room employees are invited. It’s a great way to show that wine is an experience worth sharing.
|Guest Journey Map
One WISE concept is to use a Guest Journey Map (see “Choreographing the Guest Journey), to plot out the guest experience from your customer’s point of view from the moment they approach your property through the tasting or tour experience to its conclusion. This concept helps choreograph the experience with your goals for the guests—whether you want to encourage sales, represent your brand, tell a memorable story, etc.—and then we can ensure each touch point meets these goals. Choreographing the guest experience helps minimize the backstage issues and ensure a flawless experience.
Beyond the choreographing, our team also needs to be able to understand and anticipate the guests’ needs to ensure they get that memorable experience. Dialogue and building rapport are essential here, which means the team needs to be asking open-ended questions to figure out their customers. Guests enjoy feeling as though their experience has been created just for them. Engaging with the guests creates a bonding moment and a unique experience guests will remember.
Surprise and Delight
A great way to make an experience memorable to guests is to add a bit of surprise and delight. This is something the staff goes above and beyond what was expected and makes the guests feel special. Examples include an extra pour based on special interests, making a reservation for lunch or at the next winery, a surprise barrel tasting, etc.
There are many opportunities to create surprise and delight in a brand-appropriate way, but it should never be one-size-fits-all. One way to create surprise and delight is to choreograph opportunities into the guest experience—but always encourage staff to find out about each guest and what would make their experience extra special. Have options available for guests in a brand-appropriate way. The key here is to stress that each guest is unique, so their surprise and delight over something will vary, and staff needs to find out exactly what that would be. Doing the same “special” thing for every guest is as effective as doing nothing special at all. Staff need to figure out each guest and what would exceed their expectations on an already remarkable experience.
Why not make it a company standard to always exceed guests’ expectations? Surprise and delight your guests by making it a memorable guest experience. With the additional sales sure to follow, isn’t it worth it?
Source: WISE Academy,
||Volunteers and the Law
A California winery was fined nearly $100,000 for allowing wine club members to volunteer their time at the winery. Such rules may not apply in your state, but it’s a good idea to brush up on labor laws to make sure you are not doing something illegal while trying to do something nice for your loyal customers.
Wine Market Council Publishes Findings About U.S. Wine Drinkers
Thirty-four million U.S. adults drink wine more than once a week, according to new information from Wine Market Council, which released a report about consumption habits Sept. 29. The report also found that high-frequency wine drinkers are more likely to be married (63%) and have an average annual household income of $82,900. It’s interesting to look at these details and strategize how to best position your own winery’s products in that market. Read more about the report here.
Food and Wine Pairing in Sonoma’s Alexander Valley
DeLorimier Winery is located in the heart of Alexander Valley in the northern part of Sonoma County. It’s in a gorgeous setting managed by professional, friendly and proactive staff. I went to their first Food & Wine Pairings event earlier this month and was impressed by the quality of the presentation, food, wines and agenda. It lasted about two hours, and we had enough food and wine to hold us for a late dinner that evening. Wine club coordinator Kristine Peterson welcomed us and introduced the chef, Kate Browning, who presented the menu with a short five-minute presentation.
The room sat 24 people comfortably, and intimate two-guest tables were intermixed with larger convivial six-person tables. All of the seats had guest names printed on welcome cards, so each person knew where to sit without any last-minute chair shuffling. Kate presented the food, and Kristine presented the wines as they were being served, adding culinary and pairing comments that were very helpful to remember the experience.
Part of the ROI for such events is the entrance fee ($36 for club members in this case) but also the wines you are going to sell at the event. I recommend having an event-exclusive pricing incentive such as “Special Food & Wine Pairing” pricing. Well done DeLorimier!
Public Invited to Yavapai College
Teaching Winery Opening
In Prescott, Ariz., Yavapai College is now offering a two-year degree program leading to an associate’s degree in viticulture and enology, plus a viticulture certificate that prepares individuals for various careers in the grapegrowing industry. Learn more here.
What is the Trend in Restaurant
and Bar Sales?
Traffic at restaurants and bars climbed 0.3% during the eight weeks ending Sept. 7, the best performance over the past two years, according to GuestMetrics. The company, which gathers data from point-of-sale systems at more than 10,000 U.S. bars and restaurants, reported that casual dining establishments saw a 0.5% increase during the four weeks ending Sept. 7, while fine dining figures increased 0.9%. Read more here.
Still on a Positive Path
In addition to winery hirings, which are growing, DtC sales are also very heatlhy. August was a great month for both. Get more information and details here.
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Jacques Brix is vice president and director of sales, West Coast, for Wines & Vines. This column is based on his personal experiences at winery tasting rooms and events.