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Catherine Colbert

More Wineries Must Tap Tasting Tourism

by Catherine Colbert | Dun & Bradstreet Editor

August 9, 2016 | No Comments »

Many of the world’s wineries are leaving money on the table at tastings and tours.

Wine tastings are popular year-round, not just during the warm summer months. The US wineries industry includes about 3,000 establishments that generate combined annual revenue of about $16 billion, according to First Research. While the US is the world’s largest wine-consuming country by volume, emerging economies in Asia, Africa, and South America promise future industry growth.

Wine producers with the right communication tools, processes, and personnel in place are more likely to convert tour and tasting room sales into bottles of wine sold and create longtime ambassadors for their brands. Although 90% of wineries believe that wine tourism is important to their business, a whopping 42% of producers offer no incentives to visitors at wine tastings, according to new data from travel website Winerist.

Based on a survey of more than 500 wineries from Italy, France, Spain, the US, New Zealand, and Australia, wine producers are missing the mark on strategies for converting sales, taking tasting and tour reservations efficiently, and putting their best tour guides in place.

Some 68% of wineries indicated that selling bottles of wine was the top priority of wine tastings; generating revenue from the tasting itself was second, followed by retailing winery merchandise.

Telling tasters to take a seat has its benefits. Three-fourths of wineries offer informal standing tastings, but seated tastings were found to generate more than 20% higher average purchase per visitor. Also, free tastings, which help to drive foot traffic to tasting rooms, were frowned upon, as they don’t tend to translate into sales. The 23% of wineries that offer free tastings were advised to charge a tasting fee and deduct it from the price of a purchased bottle.

Tasting room staff can be confined as well by certain processes that can slow important tour and tasting volumes. Some wineries were using the phone (39%) and email (34%) to book winery visits. Putting in place simple online booking calendars and point-of-sale tools was suggested, particularly for the smallest wineries.

While winery resources can be limited, Winerist found that tourists want to hear stories about the winery directly from the winemaker. Indeed, members of the winemaking Seghesio family still stroll the tasting room in Healdsburg, California. As a result, wine tourists are more likely to become brand ambassadors — long after the tour and tastings end.

Industry Impact — Wineries that enlist the help of winemakers to conduct tours and share stories with tasting room visitors are more likely to convert tour and tasting room sales into bottles of wine sold and create longtime ambassadors for their brands.

Tracking the moves of consumer products makers since 2003, Catherine Colbert is an industry researcher, writer, and blogger. Previously, she spent ample time in magazine publishing, technical writing, ad copywriting, medical writing, and marketing. Follow her on Twitter.

Photo by X1klima, used under a Creative Commons license.

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