With some wineries already welcoming guests back to tasting rooms and more preparing to reopen, questions about what comes next abound. Will customers want to visit? How should you reconfigure your tasting spaces to accommodate safe social distancing? How can you increase the average order value? How can you drive more follow-on sales from each visit?
Much remains unknown, but it’s clear that to keep sales going, wineries will need to rethink the hospitality experience. With that in mind, here are 5 things to keep in mind as you prepare to welcome guests back to your tasting room.
The Wine Institute reopening guidelines recommend hosting outdoor tastings to reduce viral exposure to guests and servers. Good news: many wineries already have outdoor patios or lawns that allow for greater social distancing, and customers will likely be eager to spend time outside after weeks of sheltering in place.
Even before Covid-19, interrupting your guests’ experience to ask them to stand in line to check out was not ideal. Now, it’s a requirement to limit crowding at checkout points. While mobile point of sale (POS) has been on the rise for sometime, it will now be a practical necessity as well as a good business practice, enabling you to execute sales anywhere on your property with a wifi or data connection.
Use your tasting room not only to sign up new club members, but also to nurture future online purchasers. This can be as simple as letting people know that you have an online store. You could also provide printed collateral for them to take home with their on-site wine purchase, and consider offering a shipping incentive on their first online order.
Make sure you capture data from as many people in the group as possible. It’s never been harder to acquire new potential customers, don’t let a warm lead walk out the door without leaving their email address so you can market to them later. And remember, if you capture data to comply with state regulations, make sure you also get consent from the customer to add them to your marketing mailing list.
Reservations are being strongly recommended or required for tasting rooms, a major shift in practice for many wineries. While the basic function of a reservation is to book a specific time and date, you can use them to do much more.
Prepay & Upsell
With our reservation partner Tock, you can require guests to prepay all or part of the tasting fee. This reduces no-shows and guarantees revenue for you, while providing a convenient and contactless payment solution for both parties.
Tock has found that when you offer two tasting options, people gravitate towards the cheaper option, whereas when you offer three, they tend to book the middle-tier option. Simply by displaying three choices on your tasting room page, you can guide guests towards a higher-value booking and increase your check average.
Another way to increase sales is through add-ons such as merchandise, food items (Wine Institute recommends only prepackaged snacks for now), a reserve flight or a special vineyard tour. Here’s an example of what add-ons look like in Tock:
Offer Discounts to Off-Peak Visitors
How can you attract visitors on weekdays or at less popular times? One way is to offer reduced tasting fees for those time slots. With Tock, you can automate this process, but you can also do it manually if taking reservations over the phone.
Reach New Customers
Many reservation platforms, including Tock, have launched regular email campaigns highlighting wineries and restaurants to their consumers. This is a great way to get your brand in front of qualified prospective buyers.
Use the reservation as an opportunity to collect data about your customers. Make sure you gather basics like name, phone and email address, but also consider what other pieces of information might help you personalize their experience or enable you to more effectively market to them in the future, such as wine preferences, hobbies or music taste.
Contactless payments are increasingly preferred among consumers and are also being recommended by the Wine Institute. Contactless payments include EMV (chip reader), tap to pay and mobile wallets such as Google Pay and Apple Pay.
Good news for U.S. based WineDirect clients: in June we will be opening up beta testing for our new mobile EMV and contactless payment device, including support for mobile payments. To learn more and sign up, visit our Documentation site.
Another option is to capture a credit card number upfront when booking a reservation. With WineDirect, you can encourage customers to sign up for an account on your website in advance and enter in all their payment and shipping details. That way, you can simply charge their tasting fee and wine purchases to the card on file, without having to handle cash or the physical card in the tasting room.
Finally, encourage customers to go paperless with an email receipt rather than a printed copy. This is also a great time to capture their email address and invite them to join your mailing list.
Customers are likely going to be nervous about venturing out of the house, especially in the first few weeks, but they are also looking forward to a change of scenery. Do your best to put them at ease by clearly communicating what they can expect when they visit, both in terms of health and safety measures as well as the overall experience. Don’t forget to highlight the fun parts of wine tasting, after all, that’s why people want to visit in the first place.
Reiterate these messages in promotional communications as well as reservation confirmation and reminder emails. Your guests and your staff will all feel more confident and at ease when they know what to expect.