What’s fermenting for the wine and culinary tourism industry?

What’s fermenting for the wine and culinary tourism industry? In which direction do we point the bottle to pop? Answers to these questions will be uncorked at the International Wine Tourism Conference (IWINETC) 26 – 28 October 2020.

Without doubt wine and culinary tourism is by far one of the safest tourism options on the planet so let’s get ready for a great vintage by making sure you have all the knowledge and education you need to prepare you for 2021 and beyond.

Since March we have kept bubbles in everyone’s glass through our informative articles and webinars. Now we are serving up IWINETC Virtual:

Join Chris Torres on Marketing Wine & Culinary Tourism in the Post-Covid World, Jonathan Gomez on Bringing Back Wine Tourism. Post-covid19 Restart Strategies and Opportunities, Judith Lewis on Post-Covid Website Optimisation and Digital Marketing in the Wine Tourism Industry and Harold Goodwin on The Business Advantage of Responsible Tourism along with a bunch of more appetizing industry experts presenting research, grape escape destinations and topics on marketing, branding and professional development.

Click here to view the conference programme>>

Registration for a blend of a live 3 day talk programme with on demand replays for every session is just €65!  

Click here to register as a conference delegate>>

Don’t miss out on IWINETC 2020 Virtual which opens with the talk Destination Friuli Venezia Giulia which will be delivered by Lucio Gomiero, Chief Executive & Managing Director of PromoTurismoFVG

IWINETC 2020: What’s next for wine and culinary tourism?

In the second part of the two-part IWINETC webinar series, two experienced tourism sector speakers for the upcoming IWINETC conference shared their opinions of what the future looks like for wine and culinary tourism. 

IWINETC speakers and tourism industry moguls Peter Syme and Chris Torres took a look at the likely future of wine and culinary tourism. They gave helpful advice on getting back on track with tour marketing and operations for the “new normal.” With host Anthony Swift, the panel discussed group sizes, vehicle considerations, locations, hygiene, virtual tours and answered questions from some of the 200+ live attendees.

Chris: what’s next for wine and culinary tourism?

Chris believes one of the best forms of tourism is what brings people together and as soon as restrictions are lifted, bookings will increase for flights and accommodations because people are going to want to get together with friends and family.

People are currently spending time at home, on their laptops and smartphones, fantasizing about travelling, so give them something to read or a video to watch. Inspire them, entertain them and give them useful content that helps them plan their post-crisis trip. Don’t sit back and wait for leads to come in. You have to go out and let people know you exist. You need to attract your demographics and markets. You should be putting out more articles and marketing now to get your content out for free during lockdown. It will help inspire new and existing customers to find things to do when they come out of lockdown.

According to Chris, one of the best ways of targeting key demographics is on Facebook. Facebook is one of the best targeting platforms and one of the cheapest forms of target advertising. Chris’s key demographics to target online for future travel include:

  1. Small groups. Small groups are the future of tourism because of physical distancing. Make sure you’re getting across in your product promotions that you’re following the right guidelines to keep people safe from COVID-19.
  1. Over 60’s. A lot of the over 60’s age group have created Facebook accounts, have been on Zoom meetings and are using technology more than ever before to stay in touch with their family and friends during this time. We are currently finding more of the mature generation spending time online, so now is a good time to target this demographic.
  1. Students. Students have been saving money for maybe the first time in their lives because they can’t go out with friends. When they’re able to, they’ll want to reconnect with their friends and may look for new experiences.
  1. Corporate/Business. Employees and employers have been stuck at home or working from home for months. Team building activities to bring people back together after they’ve been apart will be a goal for companies to reconnect those bonds. 
  1. Milestones. People are celebrating milestones like birthdays and anniversaries, but they have had to share these important celebrations over video chats instead of in person with friends and family. Once travel is possible, they may want to celebrate belated events in a bigger way.  
  1. Front line staff. The people who have been working throughout the COVID-19 crisis including doctors and nurses will want to take a break when their work with COVID-19 patients slows down. You could target those specific professionals and could offer a discount as a thank you for their services. 

Peter: what’s next for wine and culinary tourism from your eyes?

Peter just reopened his business and is learning as he goes to navigate this tricky time operationally. 

Positives of tourism right now: 

  1. $$$. Pre-COVID-19, the tourism sector which includes wine and food tourism was annually grossing $254 billion dollars. Within tourism, the fastest growing sector was food and drink before COVID-19. Although, you can get a off license near me and contact this company that delivers wine all the way to your house.
  1. Technology. He’s seen vastly more innovation in food and drink than any other sector. The adoption of digital products, services and technology by tour companies has been impressive and important to target consumers during this digital time.
  • Partnerships. He as an adventure tour operator has begun partnering with more food and drink tourism operators. There are lots of opportunities for food and tourism companies to partner with other sectors because everyone needs to eat and people like to drink, so there are opportunities to combine these tours and activities. 

Challenges of tourism right now:

  1. Chance of shut down. There is the possibility of needing to shut down again after reopening your business due to the unpredictability of the virus. 
  1. Planning. There are questions of when to reopen, how to reopen and what travel opportunities are available based on government regulations. Also consider what sorts of protective measures need to be taken by your business to be able to reopen. 
  1. Marketing.When do you start going from marketing to customers about their hopeful plans for the future to marketing to get paid clients? 
  1. New customers. Past customers might not be your current customers. International customers may be harder to obtain due to travel restrictions. You may need to change your products to target local clients for local activities.
  1. Affordability. Businesses need to understand their breakeven point and margins to be able to reopen. Volume will be lower because fewer people are traveling and those who are will need to travel in smaller groups. More time will be needed to allocate to cleaning and discussing cleanliness and physical distancing protocols with guests. You may also need additional transportation to allow for fewer guests per transport vehicle.
  1. Selling Direct. You may need to reshape your sales approach to focus more on selling direct to customers rather than losing commission to distributors of your products.
  1. Virtual tours. Virtual tours and digital tours can include wine tasting and virtual events. They aren’t as profitable as regular tours but they open up your business to a larger market.

Since reopening, the feedback Pete has received from clients is they are very understanding. They accept that there are lots of different new procedures and are just happy to be able to get out and do something. 

Questions & Answers

Attendees of the session asked questions in the live chat forum. Their questions have been answered by IWINETC and the two speakers for the upcoming IWINETC event, Chris and Peter. 

Question: What are, let’s say, the predictions about the wine tourism for the nearest future after lockdowns and generally, after the COVID19 situation? Have tourists’ interest in “tasting new cultures” increased or maybe decreased? And has their taste changed about wine (I mean new and old worlds, or maybe they look for new experiences)?

Answer: Chris – Generally, people have been stuck at home for so long, for whatever bit they are allowed to travel, they will want to get away to explore and experience something new. Their tastes may not have changed, but they may have to try new experiences based on where they’re allowed to go.

Pete – Trends from the last 10-15 years show that people want to go to more developing nations. COVID-19 has put a break on that for a period of time, but people will likely want to get more adventurous and look at new destinations that are less crowded than more popular tourist destinations in the future.

Question: How do you access wine tourism? People shouldn’t drive if drinking but can you get them in minibuses?

Answer: Peter – Yes, mini buses are a good solution. Right now, you may need more of them than before so your guests can physically distance. Tour businesses are logistics business for the logistics of their customer. You have to take the driving barrier away. 

Question: Many regions have wine trails, whisky trails, brewery trails, etc. Is there a case to be made for combined drinks trails with different types of producers collaborating at a city, regional and country level?

Answer: Chris – Every time you combine products, you get increased customer satisfaction because customers perceive combined offerings as higher value. People need to eat every day so it’s good to combine an activity with wine and food. As a business, think about other sectors you can collaborate with. There could be more collaboration between different wine destinations, for example Italy and France could collaborate their wine regional tourism.

Question: What should be the content for those virtual tours? Meeting with the winemaker? Tasting the wines? Visiting the cellar?

Answer: Tell a digital story, so it depends on what your wine and food operation is. You want to make the story similar to what your in-person product is like. What are you focused on? If you can make an interesting digital experience, the benefits are huge because the reach is massive. Digital events and experiences can deepen relationship with customers online who may become a real-life customer in the future

Question: We opened a brand new winery in Tuscany just a few weeks ago and the heart and soul of the winery is related to tourism. We know that this year is almost over and we can’t expect anything. My question is: would you suggest to send emails/presentations/offers and such to international tour operators for 2021? Or do you think it’s too early for operators to plan for 2021?

Answer: Chris – It’s never too early; you should already be marketing for 2021 because people are looking now for things to do next year. You can have customers book now for a tour in 2021. You could ask for a small deposit for an undetermined date in 2021 and then pick out actual dates next year.

Pete – I’m not taking bookings internationally for next year but I am getting interest. People are concerned about the economic situation for next year because they don’t know what their situations will be. It’s possible tour businesses could shut down again next year if there is a second wave of the virus, so businesses should plan for what could happen if they’re shut down again next year.

Question: In the immediate future of wine and food experiences, will they be top and expensive or basic and cheap?

Answer: Pete – As volume starts to go up, there could be a price war and discounting war between tour operators. Every operator will have less customers so they have to think about their margins. Every operator has to determine what added value they can give to the customer to reach their margins.

Chris – Volume is going to be less, so you might have to raise prices.

For more from Pete and Chris, you can meet them at the conference over a glass of wine at IWINETC in Italy 27 & 28 October 2020.

If you have any questions after watching the webinar “What’s next for wine and culinary tourism?” replay or reading this post, please ask your questions in the comments section below.

Register to attend IWINETC 2020 here

How advanced data analytics can boost profit for wine tourism

In a data-driven world, for anybody working in wine and culinary tourism, data analytics can be a headache. Data are obviously present in tourism and we should not be complacent about such an important aspect of our businesses. IWINETC speakers Emilio Zunino and Andrea Torassa of Maiora Solutions help us to understand and, more importantly, to experience how data analytics can help us.

At IWINETC 2019 Spain, you talked about how advanced data analytics can boost profit for wine tasting tours and resorts. What do you mean by advanced?

Data analytics methodologies and techniques can be grouped into three categories: descriptive, predictive and prescriptive.

Descriptive analytics allows you to see and quantify what happened in the past. A good example of descriptive analytics techniques and tools is a sales report with visual elements, such as charts and conditionally-formatted tables, showing which country or sales manager contributed the most to past revenue results, at different levels of granularity. This is “simple” analytics because descriptive techniques, methodologies and tools represent acquired information in a more effective way and facilitate the decision-making process, but they do not provide new information.

Advanced analytics concern predictive and prescriptive analytics because they can start from data and information from the past and provide new information and directions, through the application of mathematical and statistical methodologies.

Predictive analytics typically refer to demand forecasting techniques, which allows you to determine future scenarios of sales, price pattern, costs and any other metric applying different techniques (moving average, exponential smoothing, ARIMA, …) to past data. You can then have a set of possible future scenarios, which is new information, upon which take better decisions about your commercial and pricing strategy.

Prescriptive analytics combine past data, forecasting models and optimization techniques to deliver actionable recommendations which can boost economic performance. Optimization techniques are based on mathematical, statistical methodologies and data science methodologies such as non-linear regression, decision trees and machine learning. With prescriptive models you have an AI support to your decision making process, configuring the so-called augmented intelligence approach to work and decisions.

Can you give us an example of the use of  advanced data analytics applied to a tour operator or travel agent?

Regarding tourism & leisure operators, such as airlines, hotels, cruises, ferries, trains, etc… We can talk about advanced analytics when we refer to revenue management systems. These are a good example of prescriptive analytics tools, as they provide price and inventory recommendations to maximise revenues, operating margins and occupancy levels. Hence, they are able to give new information and directions from advanced analysis of key elements such as past demand seasonality, customer segmentation, price evolution and elasticity. They incorporate forecasting and optimization models, with which they can estimate future demand variation and impact of economics from the application of recommended price levels.

Tourism & leisure sectors are the ones where data analytics and price optimization techniques had been introduced and developed since the very beginning, because they always presented availability of data (through automatic booking engines) and the perfect conditions for application of revenue management: possibility to vary the price and predictable duration of each service.

Nowadays, data analytics and revenue management can be successfully applied to a booming sector such as restaurants. New technologies like integrated management systems, digital menus and totems, and the evolution of customer behaviors through online booking and aggregators, allow restaurant managers to have an unprecedented availability of data and the capability to apply dynamic menus and prices based on forecasted demand.

We have developed a prescriptive system for restaurants which enable advanced analytics in this industry. The system is based on the concept of augmented intelligence, which is the successful union of artificial and human intelligence: the system recommends based on data and statistical algorithms, the human takes the final decision complementing analytical insights with experience and business acumen.
Restaurant managers can now interrogate this system to quickly evaluate past performance through visual dashboards, predict future demand and revenues and get data-driven recommendations about menu composition and dynamic prices to maximise revenues, occupancy and operating margin.

GDPR  is a pain to many…What benefit can it bring to the marketing of wine tourism?

The GDPR can bring several benefits to the tourism sector.

First of all, it is important to say that every activity must always be directed towards the protection of citizens and their freedoms and in this case towards the protection of privacy and customer rights. Better management of their data means customer loyalty: the customer feels confident in the brand that is GDPR compliant because he knows that his data will be managed correctly in that structure.

Secondly, the GDPR is not just a legal issue but it goes hand in hand with IT security: investing in privacy and GDPR is a way to prevent possible IT security failures and data breaches. This prevents damage, both economic and reputational.

Also, GDPR in the tourism sector implies better process management and data retention. By correctly applying the GDPR, the data processed and stored by tourism facilities are consolidated and accurate (the elimination of obsolete and unnecessary data implies a significant reduction of unnecessary costs and procedures). By facilitating the adoption of processes within the company, productivity is also improved, and this can help foster a better data-analytics culture in the company, which will finally lead to a better customer service and experience.

Finally, being Privacy compliant certainly means greater credibility and consolidation of the position in the market, even towards competitors.

So, yes, it is a pain to many, but we feel it’s a good investment (and it’s mandatory anyway…)

How ready is our industry? Are there any challenges specific to wine and culinary tourism players?

In the wine industry we have a lot of amazing players with a true passion for their products, for quality and for great customer service; this is surely a strong asset in the industry, which will help a fast recovery, even in complicated times like this, when the need of sociality is somehow faltering.

For those who work also in the tourism industry, once we all go back to normal there might even be some business opportunities, thanks to the fact that most players in the industry have a limited size, and therefore there isn’t the overall perception of mass tourism with too much physical contact.

In terms of data-use readiness, instead, what we have noticed so far is that most businesses are quite small, with a strong entrepreneurial spirit and a true passion for the product, but with few weaknesses in terms of pure analytical skills. Overall, an entrepreneur is not a manager, and you don’t need a corporate style organization in a small business, but some of that managerial mindset, with a stronger attention to data would help any company – no matter the size – in getting better results. Sometimes we notice that even companies that have good results could actually have better results if they used a more analytical approach. And in crisis times every Euro matters.

Many businesses in the wine and culinary tourism industry are 1-3 persons tops with little or no time at all to get their heads around the data driven world we are in. What advice would you give to such businesses?

I would suggest to start from the basics: sometimes we might think that the use of data analytics means involving scientists and complex statistical models with a lot of maintenance and time-consuming reporting and tools to be updated every day. This can be scary.

But in fact for small businesses even some simple sales & customer reports with charts and tables might help improve the analytical skills within the company, and might help identify hidden business opportunities. Being a data analytics master is not the purpose of tourism managers, but it is very important to understand what data tell us. First start with descriptive analytics, such as sales & customer reports, then move to predictive analytics, such as forecasting models, and then adopt a price optimization model, based on prescriptive analytics. There are no shortcuts.

The best approach to start with descriptive analytics would be to identify the key measures and indicators that are useful for the business (is it sales? Guests bookings? Average price paid?) and – even with the support of someone more IT-skilled – work on a reporting template that can be easy to read, understand and quick to update. The final goal would be to spend one or two hours a week on updating and reviewing the weekly figures, at the beginning of each week, to help set the working priorities and agenda for the next few days.

Once a company is at ease with this approach, and a data culture starts to grow, then we can consider more advanced steps, like embedding the website data in the weekly analysis, or integrate some CRM concepts, to better understand our customers’ needs, and be more proactive in our sales approach.

We understand that approaching data can be scary at first, but they are literally everywhere, even in simple forms; in our Linkedin page we try to give every week some insights about the use of data in the real world, to share our simple view: data can be scary and overwhelming, but they don’t have to be that way!

Rewire your Wine & Food Tours for the New Generations

There is a shift away from Baby Boomer and Generation x, to one shaped by globalised young Millenials and the radical Generation Edge. How do we adapt our wine tourism businesses?. IWINETC speaker Paul Richer gives us some clues to keep up with and winning in the “Generation Game”

At IWINETC Hungary 2018 you talked about Digital natives and digital immigrants. Can you clarify the difference and give some indication of how the wine and culinary tourism industry needs to change and adapt?

The difference between digital immigrants and digital natives is quite straightforward. For example, I am a digital immigrant. My formative years growing up were prior to the advent of the digital era. There were no mobile phones, no personal computers, no internet. However, as digital technology has been introduced, I have embraced it and now make extensive use of it in my day to day life. I am a digital immigrant. I have moved into the digital world and am amazed at how it has changed all our lives. Digital natives were born into the digital era. They would not have known of a time when the digital conveniences of modern life did not exist. They are not amazed at what digital technology can do. They take it for granted in the same way that I take it for granted that when I turn a tap, water flows from it. They expect it to work and to provide utility and convenience.
Digital natives still want live experiences. Yes, they may spend a considerable amount of time socialising on digital channels and enjoying online gaming, streaming services and so on, but they still wish to engage in tourism in the same way that tourists and travellers have always done. The difference is that they will research the experiences in which they wish to engage via digital channels, with an expectation of gathering as much detailed information – text, graphic and video – as they wish. They will gather information from experts (such as travel industry professionals), influencers (those who have positioned themselves online as being subject experts) and a wide circle of social contacts.
The wine and culinary tourism industry needs to understand these channels of influence and tap into them in the most beneficial way. For example, this might mean creating meaningful and personable video content, inviting influencers to sample products and creating a social circle of enthusiasts and advocates.

At IWINETC Basque Country, Spain you gave a talk on AI, IOT and all that. AI seems to be all a bit technical, filled with jargon. For people working in the travel industry do we need a science degree to make sense of it for our businesses?

Artificial Intelligence and the Internet of Things (AI and IOT) are the current manifestations of the digital development. They are different but related. AI is computer programming that makes the use of extensive information databases to create the right responses to interactions. An interaction might be a question being asked of an AI Chatbot that requires an answer or it might be the translation of spoken words into computer code that can be understood by machines. IOT is the overall descriptor for physical devices that are connected to and communicate via the Internet. Voice devices such as the Amazon Echo or Google Home are IOT devices that connect to AI computer coding. The AI is to some extent self-learning, for example, gaining a better understanding of your voice commands or refining its answers to common questions.
People working in the travel industry do not need to understand the science behind AI and IOT but we do need to understand how to harness the opportunities this technology presents. This is in just the same way that most people will not understand how their cars work but will understand how to harness the opportunity of being able to use cars to get somewhere.
Very few travel businesses are going to develop AI-driven computer applications but we do need to take an interest in what is being developed by our industry’s technology providers and grab the opportunities they are offering if we assess they are worthwhile and cost effective.

Can you give a couple of examples of how AI is or will impact on the wine and culinary tourism industry?

Wine, in particular, is a very specialist area. I can imagine AI being used to help people select the wine that they will most enjoy. Both within the wine and culinary tourism industries, I see AI-driven chatbots being used to answer customers’ questions and queries, only passing these to a live expert when the queries move beyond what the chatbot is able to answer.

What do you advise tour operators, wineries, hotels….to do, to remain relevant and attractive?

My advice is embodied in my previous answers. You need to learn about and understand how to harness new digital channels of influence so that you can tap into them cost-effectively. You need to take an interest in what travel and tourism technology providers are offering and assess whether what is being offered can be utilised by your business to good effect.

Coronavirus: Life after lockdown. How do you think the wine and culinary tourism industry might change after lockdown?

I think we will all become more accustomed to using online communication services, whether this is video conferencing services such as Zoom or messaging apps such as WhatsApp. This will be for communication within our businesses, with suppliers and with customers. We may find that as a result of the way we have been communicating during lockdown we use these real-time services more and perhaps use email a bit less. You could consider that we will actually be communicating in a more old-fashioned way, actually talking to people and seeing them face to face, albeit over the Internet rather than in the same room. Tourists will always want wine and culinary travel experiences. Thankfully, I don’t see that changing after lockdown. We just need to get past this awful period and back to normality.

Paul Richer is founding partner of Genesys Digital Transformation, the realisation of his vision for a management consultancy offering the highest professional standards to specifically address the requirement for advice and project services relating to technology in the travel, tourism and hospitality industries….

Improve Wine Travel Experience with Responsible Tourism

Co-founder of Responsible Travel, Harold Goodwin, makes organisations and businesses more aware of the hot topic of Responsible Tourism. Harold gives some clues on the business advantage of Responsible Tourism with specific reference to the wine and culinary tourism industry.

Your upcoming talk at IWINETC 2020 is titled The Business Advantage of Responsible Tourism. Can you define Responsible Tourism and give a couple of examples to clarify?

Responsible Tourism is about what we do as producers and consumers to use tourism to make better places for people to live in and better places for people to visit, in that order. Sustainable tourism is the objective, Responsible Tourism is what we do to achieve sustainability. Sustainability is the ambition; Responsible Tourism is about what we do as producers and consumers to realise the aspiration. Too often sustainable is used only in the abstract sense. Responsible Tourism is not the same as sustainable tourism. Responsibility requires that we say what we are doing to make tourism better and that we are transparent about what we achieve. 

There is also a strong link between experiential and responsible tourism. I am no wine expert but I do understand the concept of terroir, “soil, topography, and climate”. I would argue that the cultural component is important too. I really enjoy Retsina with Greek food. in a Greek restaurant in Greece. It does not travel well. Three alcohol high highlights for me and one real let down. The highlights, Byrek and Raki at breakfast each day when I worked on tourism development in Albania; Ice Wine serviced over frozen grapes in Canada; and family vineyards in Slovenia. These three experiences were unforgettable for the taste of the wine but also because of the taste of the terroir and of the culture. All of these experiences were examples of the creation of shared value and the generation of great memories, the local economic benefit and the celebration of the local culture made for great experiences. In the Canadian vineyard we were shown around by the grower and I learnt a great deal. 

I had long been sceptical of the wine route in South Africa, friends who had done were clearly not impressed. I have said already that I don’t know very much about wine and I was willing to be proved wrong. I was invited to lunch at one of the wine estates in the Cape and went with high expectations. There was a wine tasting and some cordon bleu food, the staff were not South African. I would rather have been at a wine taking in a wine shop in Canterbury – I would have learnt more about the wine there than I did in the vineyard.  

Does a movement towards Responsible (wine and culinary) Tourism come with a hefty price tag for businesses operating in a grape escape destination?

Obviously the most expensive of the four experiences recounted above was the least satisfactory. The Responsible Tourism agenda is broad. In California wineries are reducing their water consumption. Drinking In moderation. – Art de Vivre is an international programme of the wine sector for a sustainable wine culture looking to inspire well-being and contribute to the reduction of alcohol related harm, and sustainable viticulture. 

I co-founded Responsible; Travel with Justin Francis way back in 2001, I am no longer a shareholder, so there is no commercial gain for me. But take a look at these two experiences:
https://www.responsibletravel.com/holiday/12429/food-and-wine-tour-in-croatia-and-slovenia 
https://www.responsibletravel.com/holiday/22267/georgia-wine-tour-small-group

Capital cities such as Barcelona, Budapest and Rome are having serious overtourism problems. How can tourist boards and business get people out of the city into the nearby wine regions?

I have been to some great restaurants and had some great food in Barcelona and Budapest and good wines with good food can be experiences in European cities. But the food and the grapes are grown in the countryside and to experience the culture and the terroir you really need to take your guests out of the cities. I had some great meals and wine in Tbilisi when I worked in Georgia – but the highlight of my Georgia experience was when having stopped in a village to talk with farmers and being taken to the kitchen to taste wine from  the qvevri – that was unforgettable. 

Meet Harold at IWINETC 2020 where he will be delving deeper in the topic of The Business Advantage of Responsible Tourism

Time for travel agents to do business differently?

Tour operators and travel agents get ready for some fresh thinking! Chris Torres author and Brand & Digital Tourism expert with over 26 years’ industry knowledge, speaker at IWINETC 2020, will be offering his advice and guidance on how travel, tourism and destination businesses can gain brand recognition and increase bookings.

In your upcoming talk at IWINETC 2020 you will show us how to produce 90 + days of content ideas from one piece of video marketing. Can you gives us a couple of examples for the wine and culinary tourism industry?

Food and wine tourism businesses have it easier than most when it comes to producing video content, or any content for that matter. You can produce video content around wine tasting, food pairings, wineries, grape varieties and a whole host of other topics to consider.

Say you create a video on wine tasting, talking about 2-3 wines in every video, producing this once per week. That video can also be turned into. A written blog, an audio podcast, short 60 second videos for some social channels… before you know it, that one video have been repurposed for many other channels, giving you more reach and brand awareness.

You talk of staff and customers generating content for the wine tourism player be it a tour operator or a winery. Can you define what you mean by that?

For me, the best story tellers should be your tour guides and those in your business who have a passion for wine and the process of making wine. Utilise the skills you have to generate content around their strengths.

Tour guides are the ones who take customers around your wineries, talking to them, inspiring them and hopefully persuading them to buy a bottle or two. Who else would be best to front a video series or an audio podcast?

In the age of internet and DIY tourism can you give us a few tips on how tour operators and travel agents can remain relevant?

I am going to say something that may shock you… but don’t run a tourism business. To survive in todays marketing landscape you must become a media company, one that just happens to sell tours.

By media, I mean articles, guides, videos, and anything else that adds value to people researching travel or just looking to be entertained. It’s not enough to have expert product knowledge in your T&A niche if your potential customers don’t know about it.

Becoming a ‘media company’ involves putting out meaningful content about your niche to drive traffic to your website or your off-site booking channels.

Making content takes time and money, but it’s the only way to make yourself visible online, and to — ultimately — make yourself more visible than your competitors.

Creating video content for example does not need to be highly polished. Film on an iPhone or a GoPro… just be truthful to yourself and you will humanise your brand, making it more appealing to travellers.

You mention storytelling to humanise a brand. Can you define that with a couple of examples?

The best way to sell a product is not to sell it but to build up why it is the best product on the market. The best way to do this is through people. People buy from people so become your own influencer within your sector. Become an authority within your niche market and this will help you create a stronger business I noted long run.

Coronavirus: Life after lockdown. How do you think the wine and culinary tourism industry might change after lockdown?

This is such big question. Personally I feel the later part of 2020, and only if this passes quickly, will be strong with the staycation market. People will have less money, be nervous with international travel, so local tourism should be the main focus.

I also believe the 2021 will be a boom year for travel as travellers will be fed up  being stuck at home or in their destinations for so long they will want to experience a new location so producing content now, to inspire them while stuck at home, is the prime time to plant that seed.

Meet Chris at IWINETC 2020 where he will be delivering a talk titled: How to Easily Generate 90+ days of Content to Promote your Tour business

Time to take winery staff training seriously

Felicity Carter, editor-in-chief of Meininger’s Wine Business International, the world’s only global, English language wine business magazine tells us about the importance of staff training in the wine tourism industry. She also gives a few pointers on press trip organisation and management.

Better staff training…can you clarify this for us?

One thing that successful wineries have in common is they train staff thoroughly. This isn’t just a matter of teaching staff to serve better, but also to be able to understand who the customer is who is standing in front of them. Far too many tour operators and cellar door staff have a script they adhere to, that either treats everyone as a complete beginner – which can be insulting for some customers – or which relies on stereotypes, such as automatically offering women sweeter, cheaper wines, when they might be serious connoisseurs.

Staff also need to understand the wine they’re working with – even the back end and administrative staff. There needs to be a culture of wine and hospitality inside the whole organisation. Staff not only need to know about their particular product, but also how the wine fits into a regional and international context.

For example, if an Australian winery is serving Shiraz to international tourists, it’s important they understand what other styles of Syrah/Shiraz that tourist has been exposed to, so they can explain how their local style differs from that of the Rhone Valley, for example.

The reason it’s important that all staff learn about wine, is because it can turn them into advocates for the brand or region. If they have a good understanding of wine, and it becomes part of their own life, they will talk about it in their own time, to their own friends and relatives. They will have even more pride in the place where they work, and that also communicates itself.

Who trains? It may be the case that the winery management are not very good pedagogically speaking and therefore poor at training themselves. That being the case should the winery employ an external trainer?

Not investing in staff training and professional development is a key weakness of many European and some New World wine businesses. Any staff who are involved in any type of sales, including at the cellar door, should absolutely have professional sales training; customer and hospitality staff need professional training as well.

It may seem like an unnecessary expense, but proper training will pay off again and again. Sometimes people worry that sales training will turn staff into aggressive salespeople, but it’s not the case – good training will help staff understand when to continue the conversation and when to back off.

As for wine training, there is no better place to start than the WSET.

At IWINETC 2029 in Spain’s Basque country you talked about media in wine tourism and highlighted Google as the big player. Would you say Google Travel is having or will have any impact on wine tourism businesses worldwide?

Any business, whether wine or travel, needs to understand Google search, because this is how tourists will find them. Every website needs to be SEO and search optimised, so it rises as high as possible on Google rankings.

We often hear about a wine region’s tourist board organising a press trip for journalists, writers, bloggers….Can you give a few tips from a journalist point of view about what to do and what not to do for tourist boards organising and running a press trip?

The most important thing is not to overfill the day. There are some press trips that start early in the morning and go to late at night, and then do it all again the next day. Professional communicators need time to go over their notes and start composing stories. If the pace is relentless, everything just blurs together.

The other thing to watch is over-feeding. Nobody needs to have a gourmet lunch and then a five-course dinner. Days of over-feeding leads to everyone feeling sick and sluggish, particularly if there is long bus travel involved.

You talk of TikTok as the next big thing in media. Can you expand on this statement?

TikTok is mostly used by a very young audience, meaning it’s not a suitable platform for companies involved in alcohol. However, TikTok has been a game changer for online communications, pushing people to do clever, funny things in just 15 seconds. People love the format – if you can make a quick film highlighting one funny, warm or cute moment, do it. It’s much more likely to get traction than the usual expensive, glossy tourist video where the drone zooms across the beautiful landscape and… well, you know what happens next. We’ve all seen those productions and they’re boring. Fifteen seconds of fun beats them all hands down.

Meet Felicity at IWINETC 2020. Felicity will be delivering a talk titled Turn your staff into your best advocates.

Amidst Friuli Venezia Giulia’s Nature

The region in which the International Wine Tourism Conference 2020 takes place, Friuli Venezia Giulia, will show you what it’s really like to be in protected and unpolluted surroundings. There’s not just one, but many places where time seems to have stood still: parks, lagoons, nature reserves, mountains where silence reigns. If you long to be totally immersed in nature, then Friuli Venezia Giulia is the ideal place for you.

The perfect peaks reaching skyward from the Friulian Dolomites and the Julian and Carnic Alps form the ideal frame for the lush green valleys. Acting as the region’s natural frontiers, the Alpine chains preserve pearls of rare beauty, such as Sauris, a symbol of the excellent food (Proscuitto Sauris) and wines of Friuli, or the Resia Valley, where the language and traditions of an ancient Slavic race have survived in an unspoilt environment since the 7th century. Or the Tarvisio area, where three natural and cultural borders meet and enclose startling summits that climbers from all over Europe long to conquer.

But if you descend from the mountains to the sea you will discover the Grado and Marano Lagoons. Friuli Venezia Giulia offers 3 Natural parks, as well as about twenty biotypes and 13 nature reserves. From a rushing, tumbling mountain stream to the unhurried thrill of a climb, there’s always a new emotion to stir you. There are many walking trails you can take to truly experience nature’s beauty, some popular trails include; Friulian Dolomites Circular Trail, 4 stages for 4 mountain huts, a trekking route to complete against the splendid backdrop of the Regional Friulian Dolomites Natural Park. Another route is the Alpin way, the yellow trail that starts from Trieste, crosses the Karst, the Carnic and the Julian Alps before finally reaching the German Alps. If not, you can try the Alta Via Forni di Sopra, five days’ trekking between mountain and refuge huts immersed in the wilderness of Forni di Sopra’s wide valley.

Alternatively, you can take one of the many biking routes that range from the coast to the mountains. Also keep an eye out for birds, seeing as the region has 320 different species of birds, a birdwatcher’s paradise! Therefore, if you’re a nature lover who enjoys hiking along the mountains, plains or coast and of course great food and wine – then Friuli Venezia Giulia is the place to go!

Article: Jethro Swift

The IWINETC 2020 two day conference and one day B2B Workshop will take place from 24 – 26 March at Stazione Marittima Conference Hall, Molo Bersaglieri 3 – 34124 Trieste Friuli Venezia Giulia (Italy) and is supported by PromoTurismoFVGRegistration open. For more information, visit: www.iwinetc.com

Secret Friuli Venezia Guilia

Exploring Friuli Venezia Guilia’s hidden corners in search of the best the countryside has to offer.

The breath-taking countryside that surrounds the venue for the International Wine Tourism Conference 2020 of Friuli Venezia Giulia gives you the chance to explore some of the most beautiful small towns in Italy. Boasting treasures of great historical and cultural importance. There is a whole world to be explored, one filled with food and wine tours, old crafts that have never faded, rural and medieval hamlets, castles and ancient mills.

Throughout the countryside, the region has a special kind of hospitality. A wide range of alternative accommodation are available to dive into authentic rural life. This includes the “Albergo Diffuso” – an innovative concept of accommodation developed in Friuli Venezia Giulia – that combines the service of a hotel with the freedom of a holiday apartment. Typically staying in ancient houses in villages which have been restored, decorated and equipped in the typical mountain tradition.

You can discover the 12 “Most beautiful Italian villages” in the countryside of Friuli Venezia Giulia. One of them is Sappada, which is a German-speaking linguistic island and a place where ancient traditions and architecture have remained over time.

Scattered throughout the countryside you can find medieval castles, including the land of castles in the Friuli hills, stepped in history and ancient manors. Castle Ragogna, which hosts Scriptorium Foroiuliense – one of the few schools teaching ancient art of calligraphy in Italy.

Of course, the wonders of the region’s countryside can be witnessed along the new Friuli Venezia Giulia Wine and Food Route. A single road connecting the coast to the mountains, networking the region’s agri-food and wine-growing resources, together with cultural and environmental ones. There are many private houses of winemakers, where you can taste typical, local, home-grown dishes at certain times of the year whilst being surrounded by absolutely breath-taking views of the countryside.

Geographically, the region is rich and diverse in land, from the tall-mountainous region of the Alps to the vast plateau that lead toward an outstanding coastline that borders the southern area of Friuli Venezia Giulia. This hidden geographical treasure will amaze everyone due to its many different landscapes, intertwining cultures, and ancient traditions. This is all enriched by the number of historical homes, manors, villas, castles and ancient villages that are located throughout. Friuli Venezia Giulia truly a site to be seen! IWINETC 2020 in Trieste not to be missed!

Article: Jethro Swift

The IWINETC 2020 two day conference and one day B2B Workshop will take place from 24 – 26 March at Stazione Marittima Conference Hall, Molo Bersaglieri 3 – 34124 Trieste Friuli Venezia Giulia (Italy) and is supported by PromoTurismoFVGRegistration open. For more information, visit: www.iwinetc.com

Aspettando IWINETC

PromotorismoFVG, Agency of the Autonomous Region of Friuli Venezia Giulia (FVG) for Tourism, has undertaken to organise a one day education programme for FVG stakeholders titled Aspettando IWINETC (Getting ready for IWINETC) – a taster for the International Wine Tourism Conference (IWINETC) coming up in March 2020 taking place in the delightful city of Trieste. Aspettando IWINETC will take place at the Villa Dragoni in Via Florio, 18 a Buttrio (Udine) on 27 November 2019.

Speakers include Roberta Garibaldi, Erik Wolf, Alessandra Priante, Roberta Milano and IWINETC Director, Anthony Swift who will address a wide range of topics related to the wine and culinary tourism industry.

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Registration and programme for Aspettando IWINETC here>>

The IWINETC 2020 two day conference and one day B2B Workshop will take place from 24 – 26 March at Stazione Marittima Conference Hall, Molo Bersaglieri 3 – 34124 Trieste Friuli Venezia Giulia (Italy) and is supported by PromoTurismoFVGRegistration open. For more information, visit: www.iwinetc.com