“How to keep wine tourism going during the pandemic?” is the question that everyone in this sector wants to know. It takes some effort and creativity, but it is possible!
Since March, many producers had to initially close their doors, then slowly reopen, but always with many restrictions.
Insecurity is in place and if international tourism has slowed down, niche tourism such as wine tourism, naturally has also undergone a great change.
I recently attended the IWINETC – International Wine Tourism Conference 2020 that has been taking place in several cities in Europe since 2009. A conference that was scheduled for March in Italy, was postponed to October in digital format and where the pandemic issue was in the spotlight , of course.
So, how to boost wine tourism during a pandemic? What to do in such uncertain times?
There are no magic formulas. Above all there is creativity, focus and a lot of will to make it happen! I gathered some ideas for you.
MORE OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES
If it is outdoors that we are safer and more protected from the virus then that is where you need to focus your attention.
Think about how to make the best use of the outside areas of your winery, while keeping the visitors comfortable and safe.
And go further, do a search for companies of outdoor tourist activities in the region of your winery – boat trips, horse ridding, trekking, off-road … – and establish partnerships with these companies.
Show that wine tourism is a safe option for holidays and moments of leisure.
PRIVATE WINE TOURS
Increasingly, visitors are looking for personalized and intimate experiences, and they really want to be away from the crowds.
Prepare your visits for couples and small families and friends and, even in small groups, do not put together strangers on the same visit.
In addition to being safe, the visitor will feel more comfortable asking those “silly questions” (which are not, but are ashamed to ask in public) and will feel special, with all the attention they deserve.
An excellent way to “pamper” those who visit you and create strong bonds with customers who will certainly become loyal clients in the long run.
CHILDREN ARE WELCOME
May the fact of having children not be an impediment to do wine tourism! It is time to think that wine tourism can also be for the youngest who join their parents. Especially in a year when not only adults but children were deprived of so much.
While parents calmly enjoy their wine tasting, children or teenagers can also have an experience around wine, aromas and flavors. Treasure hunt in the vineyard? Grape and juice tasting?
Use your imagination and come up with great ideas to entertain the whole family at your winery.
ALONE, YOU’RE NOT GETTING TOO FAR…
Never has the expression “together we are stronger” made so much sense. And it applies to several areas, even in wine tourism. Because you’re not going too far on your own.
It’s about time to look around you, visit the closer wineries and find out what’s happening there, what each one has to offer. From there, you can even create wine routes in partnership.
Design a wine route that brings together different wineries, an overnight in a rural hotel and meals in local restaurants and, suddenly, your region becomes much richer and more appealing!
FOCUS ON THE LOCAL COMMUNITY
As much as borders and airports are opened, so soon international tourism will not return to the figures of 2019. Not neglecting the foreign customer, now it is time to focus on the national visitor. Start in the local, regional community and move on to the rest of the country.
Communicating for the national or local clients means understanding their consumption habits, vacation and leisure trends, taking advantage of your country’s holidays and festivities and rethinking all your wine tourism offer according to that.
PROMOTE YOUR WINERY
If you don’t promote your cellar, your wine, how do you expect people to know that it exists?
Currently, there are many “actors” in the area of communication and promoting wine that you must have as an ally of your brand.
I mean, of course, journalists. But I also speak of sommeliers and wine shops – the most immediate selling point for your wines – and also bloggers and brand ambassadors, each one with their own channels and their loyal followers.
In this quieter moment with less work, make a selection of names that most identify with the values of your brand and invite them to know your winery, its history, its wines and most importantly, to get to know you!
Nothing ever replaces personal contact, but this year forced the whole world to go online.
Make good use of technology and social networks and share your wine cellar virtually. Organize virtual wine tastings, show the backstage of the cellar, what happens beyond the harvest season that most people don’t see, introduce your staff and everyone who works there, the people who make each wine happen.
Basically, you are opening the doors of your “house” but the visitor never gets to leave theirs. This is the best time to make them dream and create a desire of visiting you anytime soon!
IT’S TIME TO LEARN
Take advantage of this uncertain period to learn more about topics that can improve your and your winery’s performance!
Analyze your weaknesses or those of your cellar and improve your skills.
And that may be visiting other wineries, from your region or beyond. And encourage your staff to do the same. Or why not learning a new language, for example?