We’re often asked to help a winery set up their tasting room and guest experiences or we are asked to evaluate the tasting room setup to determine if it is detracting from or contributing to a great guest experience. As more wineries pop up across the U.S., winery owners realize that they must set themselves apart to attract qualified guests.
The question we hear most frequently is “should we offer seating or seated tastings?” And it’s a good question because we all like to be comfortable when we enjoy wine… right? So, how do you know if seated tastings are right for your winery? More importantly, how do you decide what type of guest experiences are best for your business?
• The best guest experiences are an extension of your brand. Start with your brand position and create ambience and experiences that reflect your unique message. Disconnects between your winery personality and the guest experience will leave a guest feeling confused and unclear about your identity. Confused guests don’t feel a connection and chances are they won’t become a loyal fan of your winery.
• Be clear about your goals. You can’t have it all, so be sure you and your team are focused on the goals that will sustain your winery. If your objective is bottle sales and club sign ups, we’ve found that bar tastings (for most wineries) deliver the highest conversion rates. If your goal is club member retention or “by the glass” sales, seated areas may help you achieve your goals.
• Create a process. Our greatest learning after helping many wineries create and measure guest experience is this…teams who have a process for table or seated service can achieve higher conversion rates than bar experiences. Wineries who offer seated tastings and then leave guests to create their own experience see lower conversion rates than at the bar.
• Measure, measure, measure and tweak your experiences accordingly. You’ve settled on your goals and your experiences. Your work isn’t done! You must constantly measure your results against your goals to ensure your experiences are delivering. If they aren’t, keep changing until you find what works.
• Guests are unique. If space allows, offer several options for tasting experiences. Some guests are on a schedule. They want to taste and move on. Others want to linger. Here’s the rub… based on your goals, you may need to focus only on tasting bar experiences. Or, you may decide seated tastings are best to accomplish your sales goals. Don’t feel that you have to be everything to everyone. Great brands focus on their audience and let the rest go.
There is no right answer to the question. The right guest experience is the one that supports your brand position and helps you achieve your goals. The beauty of direct to consumer is that you have the opportunity to talk to your audience, observe their behavior and make improvements until you get it right!
Click here to watch a webinar about delivering exceptional guest experiences!