Downtime at a winery is the perfect time to start building the foundation for next year’s revenue by tackling those projects that you have been putting off during the busy time. Here are some ideas:
Outreach to hospitality industry
There is a well-established correlation between traffic to your tasting room and sales. In fact, corporate wineries use a percentage of visitor traffic as targets for both wine purchases and wine club sign ups. Therefore, by increasing your visitorship, you can impact sales. And these winter months are a great time for reaching out to the people who can influence traffic.
When was the last time you visited the B&B’s and local lodging properties or hosted them at your site? What other companies can help direct visitors to your tasting room? Limo companies, wine tour guides, tourism staff, even servers in restaurants are obvious people to start with.
This is not rocket science, yet those who make the effort will be rewarded.
Earlier this year, Tero Estates and Flying Trout Wines invited Walla Walla lodging properties and tourism staff to their winery and vineyard for the VIP treatment normally reserved for trade guests. The visit was hosted by Doug, Jan & Ashley plus various cats and dogs in their just-completed winery and tasting room. The pride and dreams for their property and wines was evident. The highlight was the tour of the famous Windrow Vineyard with several arranged stops for appetizers and tasting.
Another area winery, Northstar, hosts an annual industry party just before the Holidays with a reminder of their generous trade discount for those who attend.
It needn’t be elaborate. Sinclair Estate Vineyard offers their event space for the monthly B&B meeting and includes a tasting of their wines.
Bottom line, anyone who makes their living from visitors wants to be certain that their guests have a great experience. By giving influencers a personal connection to your brand story, they are more likely to refer your winery to their guests.
If your winery has event space that is suited to meetings and small events such as company parties, this is a great time to be compiling a list of potential clients. While the era of large, extravagant company parties may be behind us, companies are still having parties and are looking for options in all price ranges.
If you haven’t done so already, analyze your event space and know how many people it will hold comfortably while meeting the fire code and permitting regulations.
Then, audit your options for food. Do you have a commercial kitchen, catering kitchen or just a sink and a counter? Depending on this answer, you may be limited in the type of events you can do.
If you work with a house caterer or use a short list of preferred vendors, be prepared to provide contact info and price ranges.
Then assemble your package folder with photos, floorplan showing available tables and chairs, and include various pricing tiers for meetings and corporate parties.
Decide how to best incorporate your wine into various packages. Can you offer a VIP wine tasting at the end of a business session? Do you discount the event facilities if a certain amount of wine is purchased? Do you offer a special bottle or case discount to participants?
Once you know what you can offer in terms of days of the week, availability, type and size of events, have your tasting room staff compile a list of potential businesses with their contacts. Who is the person you should be talking to? The CEO’s exec assistant, Human Resources or whoever. Time spend on this exercise now will pay off later in the year when you can’t find the time to do this legwork.
Then sometime over the next few months, plan an outreach to every company on your potential list. Invite them to the winery for a VIP wine tasting, or if they can’t come to you, ask for a short meeting at their office. Put on your business look and bring your material. This is a great time to include a bottle of wine.
By doing this work in the slow months, the better prepared you will be for a busier year at your winery.