Whether you're just starting out or you have several tasting rooms beginning to buzz with guests, tasting room traffic is hard to come by. You can't just sit back idly and wait for the people to roll in — you have to put in the work to attract qualified guests and encourage them to become repeat customers.
Luckily, there are a few different channels you can tap to drive traffic. Traditionally, attracting tasting room guests has been an offline endeavor, done through relationships with neighboring wineries, referrals from concierges or word-of-mouth marketing. These are all still viable channels, but as the world becomes increasingly digital, you can't neglect the many other powerful ideas for increasing traffic to your winery's tasting room.
Here are some strategies you can try online, offline and inside the tasting room itself to drive more, high-quality visits.
Take Your Tasting Room Online
In this increasingly digital age, the first place your customers will interact with your brand will likely be on the internet. It's critical that your winery maintain an online presence and that your online presence be an accurate reflection of your brand.
With an attractive, easy-to-navigate website, people researching trips and activities will be more likely to choose your winery as a destination. The visuals on your website should reflect your brand, and it should include information on the type of tasting room experiences you offer. To make it as easy as possible for your guests to book reservations for a tasting, consider implementing a reservation management integration such as Tock.
The most successful wineries we've seen have maintained an active and compelling social media presence as well. Facebook is still king for brand awareness and referrals — often, recent guests to your tasting room will tag you in pictures or leave reviews on your page — but depending on the type of guests you'd like to attract, you may want to consider other social media channels as well.
Remember: Whatever you post on social media, it should be more than just two-for-one deals or invitations to an upcoming event. Play up the characters in your organization to give your followers something to connect with. For example, you could share a video of the winemaker talking about what's happening at harvest or a blog post by the owner discussing a new initiative. This generates interest and brand equity, in addition to the usual posts about upcoming events or new experiences you offer.
Connect with Customers Offline, Too!
Wine tasting is a luxury, in-person experience, so naturally there are an abundance of offline channels for driving traffic to your tasting room as well. Of course, the first and most obvious is word of mouth: If you offer a wonderful tasting room experience to every guest, they'll be more likely to leave positive reviews and tell their friends about the great time they had.
Another more targeted form of word of mouth is personal recommendations from concierges. When people go on trips, they often ask their hotel concierge for recommendations on local destinations and activities, so this is a great way to drive traffic to your tasting room. Consider spending a little money on attractive pamphlets, business cards or coupons to hand out to hotels in the area — providing these resources makes it as easy as possible for concierges to recommend your winery. Two-for-one discounts are popular, but these resources don't always have to be a freebie; think about the kind of traffic you want and what kind of offers will drive the most qualified buyers.
DTC wine may be a competitive industry, but one of the best ways to drive traffic is by fostering good relationships with your neighboring wineries. When people visit other wineries in the region and they're looking for somewhere to go next, your neighbors will be inclined to offer referrals if you've developed good rapport with them. Some people throw industry parties to raise awareness for neighboring wineries in the area, which can be extremely valuable for developing genuine partnerships and encouraging word-of-mouth referral.
Drive Traffic with Exceptional Tasting Experiences
Once you've developed a compelling online presence and optimized several offline channels for driving traffic to your tasting room, you may find your tasting room buzzing with activity. Great! But you can't stop there.
Getting a lot of bodies into the tasting room to pay the tasting fee isn't the way anyone makes money. The real way to monetize and continue to grow is by keeping in touch with guests. In other words, don't let anyone leave your tasting room without collecting their contact information. Bridging this offline to online gap is key to growing your mailing list, increasing brand engagement, driving repeat customers and encouraging guests to sign up for your wine club.
Of course, nobody will come back if you don't offer a unique, enjoyable experience within your tasting room. Shaping this experience will involve the atmosphere, the price and the type of wine on the tasting menu, but one critical area that many wineries overlook is the tasting room staff. A common mistake that many wineries make when they're first starting out is hiring people who are passionate about wine, but maybe don't know how to close a sale. Train your staff to be effective salespeople, knowledgeable pourers and helpful hosts to ensure genuine, profitable interactions with each guest.
The Wine Tasting Room: More Than A Sales Outlet
When you're just starting out with these new initiatives, it might feel like you're throwing spaghetti against the wall to see what sticks. That's fine. It can be difficult to know immediately which channels will be the best revenue drivers for your unique winery in your specific region. Reach out and try as many channels as you can afford, and when it becomes clear where your growth is, focus your energy there.
But throughout your efforts to drive traffic to your tasting room, remember this: Your tasting room is not only for direct onsite retail. It acts as an embassy for your brand, building loyalty and encouraging repeat sales. You need to play a longer game than immediately selling six bottles of wine to a couple who's visiting your tasting room for the first time. Every decision you make in building and marketing your tasting room should have this in mind.
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