Take me to the vines: Wine tourism 2020 and beyond

IWINETC 2020 Friuli Venezia Giulia: Get ready for the future in wine and culinary tourism.

Wine tourism and safe distancing

Over the last few months, the future for wine and culinary tourism has been quite an uncertain prospect but now it is the time to move forward again. That’s why we have prepared this online event to provide wine and culinary tourism professionals with not only an update on IWINETC but also insights and inspiration for your business and career.

This exclusive two hour virtual event included 2 sessions:

Session 1: IWINETC 2020 Update.

Speakers: Anthony Swift, IWINETC Director, Lucio Gomiero, PromoTurismoFVG and Lara Persello, Area Enogastronomia – Strada del Vino e dei Sapori del Friuli Venezia Giulia, PromoTurismoFVG provide an update on IWINETC and answered questions related to the event, health and safety.

PDF Safety Controls & Precautionary Measures IWINETC 2020

Session 2: What’s next for wine and culinary tourism?

Travel and tourism is slowly beginning to happen again. IWINETC speakers Peter Syme, and Chris Torres took a look at the likely future of wine and culinary tourism and gave much advice and help on getting back on track with tour design and activities for the “new normal”. With host Anthony Swift, the panel will discussed group sizes, vehicle considerations, location, hygiene, virtual tours and were available to answer many questions from the audience.

Register to attend IWINETC 2020 here

Wineries of Niagara-on-the-Lake Working together

Eager to capture more market share of the wine and culinary tourism market? Better adapt: one of the keys to success is working together as a region and not as an individual player. Andrea Kaiser, Proprietor Drea’s Wine Co. presents the case of Niagara-on-the.Lake

You state that The ‘Wineries of Niagara-on-the-Lake’ is a self-funded collective marketing group that was established in Ontario, Canada in the early 80’s. How has this initiative evolved since then?

While the marketing collective has evolved over time and shifted when necessary in response to changes in the marketplace, the group is very unique in the fact they have never wavered from two key principles within the organization. Number one, the organization was founded and still operates on the basis that each winery has one vote, equal to all all others, so that all winery member opinions are valued equally. Also while all decisions are based on majority vote, the group is very collaborative in seeking consensus whenever possible. The second key principle that has kept our organization grounded is our steadfast commitment to one key mission, to drive visitors to member wineries in shoulder season. It is only recently that we have begun to have conversations around complementing this with a secondary mission, to establish our destination as premium wine producing region.

Presumably, at some point the regional tourist board has been involved in promoting the destination? That being the case what have they done/doing and how good of a job have they done or are doing?

The formation of our organization was rooted in the fact that our regional tourism board was lacking finances and was largely focused in the past on promoting historical attractions and theatre. Wineries were not identified as a primary driver of visitation until recently. Furthermore while our organization sought to work with the regional board and align strategies when possible, it was not until recently that a change in leadership has provided a renewed faith in the regional tourism board.

How successful has the project of encouraging all year round wine tourism been? Can you give us some figures on number of day visitors and number of visitors that stay and sleep?

The example of Reif Estate Winery, where I work as Marketing Director, demonstrates the significant impacts that our organization has had on member wineries since its inception. The winery was one of the founding member wineries of the marketing collaborative and has experienced exponential growth in shoulder season, primarily due to the Wineries of Niagara-on-the-Lake marketing initiatives. When the organization was established, summer visitation from June – September, provided for bulk of cellar doors sales and accounted for 90% of visitation to the winery per annum. Now peak season has been extended from May through November, bookended by Wineries of Niagara-on-the-Lake Sip and Sizzle tasting program in May and Taste the Season in November. Furthermore visitation during the ‘peak season’ now only accounts for approximately 75% of visitation to the winery in the course of the year, as Icewine Festival in January and Days of Wine and Chocolate in February are now key drivers in winter. Furthermore at that time of the organizations inception visitors to Reif Estate Winery would have been approximately 15,000 visitors per year. Visitation to the winery has grown to over 300,000 visitors per year. 

Reading through your abstract of your talk for the 2020 edition of the International Wine Tourism Conference (IWINETC) it feels like most of the wine tourists the region receives are Ontario based? Can you give some % numbers of where wine tourist are coming from and if they are DIY tourists or organized by tour operators and travel agents.

Each winery member has a very different business plan in regards to accepting organized tours. We have some very small members who are simply not able to host group busses due to limited facilities and others who choose not to accept large groups from abroad  and focus instead on domestic independent travellers. This is in part because visitors who arrive by air are hindered in making wine purchases due to restrictions in liquids in carry-on luggage and the costs associated with heavy weight and additional bags during travel. There are however particular markets that are desirable for Icewine sales and therefore those member wineries who specialize in Icewine  production target groups of all size from Asia Pacific. Many offer order fulfillments of wines from private warehouses in Asia, when the customer returns home from travel. We also have members who target bus groups (not air travel) from the U.S. who also have an interest in Icewine and also Quebec, as their Province enjoys wine of the highest wine consumption rates in Canada and are also within driving distance. 

I would estimate all member wineries receive approximately 60-80% of their visitors from Canada (depending on their own winery strategies), for all weighted heavily from Ontario. That being said, because of our proximity to the world famous Niagara Falls, there are a significant amount of International visitors in our wine growing region as compared to other wine regions in the province who might instead rely on 90% domestic travel.

Can you tell us about a Niagara-on-the-Lake wine you are particularly fond of?

My father loved to make wines with good structure and strong backbone of acidity so I have grown to love cool climate wines. In particular, I love white wines, especially sparkling wines from Niagara, but I also have a great fondness of our Sauvignon Blancs and dry Rosés. While I am not generally a red wine drinker, it is worth noting that Niagara-on-the-Lake is a designated ‘specialty crop’ area with the most growing degree days in Ontario, and as a result gaining recognition for its red wines as we are able to successfully grow Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot, unlike some grape growing regions in our Province.

Join Andrea at IWINETC 2020 where she will be delving deeper in the topic of marketing collectives.

Andrea Kaiser

Time for Standardised Wine Tours?

Great wines with a poor visit or poor wines with a great visit or should we aim for the middlle OK wines OK visit? IWINETC speaker Djurdjica Jojic Novakovic, currently doing here Ph.D with a focus on wine tourism takes a look at standardisation in wineries and wine regions.

At IWINETC 2019 in Spain’s Basque country you talked about tourism standardisation in wineries. What do you mean by this exactly?

Wineries are complex systems and different areas of their activities can be subject of some sort of standardisation, such as technological operations with wine, or health and sanitary aspects of the wine making facility. The third one, being the main topic here, is touristic offer in wineries.

Many wineries provide some sort of touristic services – wine tastings, visits to the cellar, visits to the vineyards etc. The quality of these services does not have necessarily to reflect the quality of the wine, i.e. some excellent wineries can offer poor touristic experiences, or not so great wineries can offer quite memorable cellar experience. The main idea is to unify the quality of the touristic offer in wineries (NB: not the offer itself, but its quality) across a region.

How would a tourist board or a collective of wineries achieve such standardisation?

Setting up a standardisation procedure is done neither easily nor quickly. There are certain preconditions that need to be met, the most important ones being – defining sources of financing, and the vision & objectives.

Implementing this system has its costs, as well as its maintenance once it is realised. It is crucial to define in advance how these costs will be covered, in order to avoid conflict of interest or even more importantly, influence of member wineries on obtaining certain grade.

In my view, the most important is the vision. Idea of where the wineries see their region in the future, what they want it to become like. This image is inevitably connected with the current specifics of the wine region. What are the strengths, what are the areas for improvement? If the region is not well connected to international airports and corridors, is it realistic to expect to attract guests from abroad?

The stronger faith and passion in the vision, by all stakeholders involved in this process, the better results can be achieved.

What criteria would be used in order to achieve standardisation if indeed standardisation is desired by each winery?

It is not necessary that each winery is subject of evaluation. It is quite possible that some will be reluctant, especially in the beginning. It is of crucial importance to ensure fair, objective and transparent process of evaluation so that those entities which didn’t take part from the beginning, eventually join and increase the number of entities evaluated.

The specific criteria are derived directly from the vision i.e. from the objectives that are defined.

For example, if the region decided to promote itself as a place of traditional values, it may give more importance to the appearance and interior design of wineries and give higher grade to those whose architecture is in line with the old style houses. Or, if it decided to position itself as a place of high environmental culture, it will give more attention to whether wineries respect the nature, if they implement practices of sustainable development (e.g. usage of renewable sources of energy). If a region decided to brand itself as a modern place for young foreign travellers, it will pay more attention to whether wineries have website and are active on social networks, and how many languages staff members can speak.

Criteria can reflect general conditions such as availability of infrastructure and parking, presentation of price list and wine sheets, possibility to purchase wine, professionalism of the host presenting the wines, hygiene etc.

Specific criteria can be availability of tasting rooms and how well they are equipped, wine assortment offered, availability of additional services (food, playground for children, offer of other products typical for the region, conference room etc.), how well the staff is trained etc.

Can you give an example where a standardisation project is currently happening and indicating any tangible results?

In my presentation I presented two case studies, or two regions – Istria (Croatia) and Villany-Siklos (Hungary). Here I will shortly describe only one, so that these answers don’t turn into a real novel.

Hungarian Villany-Siklos Wine Route Association was established in 1996. This is today one of the most developed wine regions in Hungary, not only in terms of quality and number of wineries but also in terms of accompanying activities such as tourism in general, gastronomy etc. Out of top 10 Hungarian restaurants, 5 are situated in this region. Only in the period 2010-2015, number of tourist arrivals and number of nights spent increased for as much as app. 50%.

Their concept is based on evaluating not only wineries, but rather all business that have to do anything with the wine tourism, such as: wine museums, wine shops, restaurants, producers of local products and providers of other related services.

The result is a grade presented with 1, 2 or 3 grapes. The board with the grade is clearly presented at the entrance of each winery, shop, restaurant etc.

If a wine region is to achieve standardisation how would this benefit on the one hand tour operators selling a destination and on the other DIY tourists?

Benefits are numerous for any type of visitor. The main benefit is customer protection. Visitors can be confident that they will get certain level of quality and that they will get those products and services that are communicated. It cannot happen that e.g. foreign visitor comes to a highest grade rated winery and be served with bulk wine or to be hosted by someone who is unprofessional or cannot speak English. Visitors can be safe and confident not to be cheated or mislead and to really concentrate to maximizing their indulging and learning experience.

Djurdjica Jojic Novakovic speaking at IWINETC 2019 Basque Country Spain

Gastrodiplomacy in Wine Tourism

Historically, food has connected people across cultural and geographical distances and boundaries, going back to the ancient trade routes based on commodities such as nuts, grapes, spices, coffee and sugar. Tourism also links peoples and nations, playing a role in the building of national identity. IWINETC 2019 speaker Irina Gusinskaya takes us on an informative tour of Gastrodiplomacy.

Gastrodiplomacy – what’s that?

There are few aspects as deeply or uniquely tied to culture, history, or geography as cuisine. Food is a tangible tie to our respective histories, and serves as a medium to share our unique cultures. The subject of gastrodiplomacy is exactly that: how to use food to communicate culture in any context.

The concept is ancient, but the terminology is relatively new. The term gastrodiplomacy was first used in an Economist article on Thailand’s public diplomacy campaign to promote its food and culinary art to the world. Since then, gastrodiplomacy’s popularity has spread rapidly. In gastrodiplomacy, nations use food as a part of their efforts to promote their cultures, build their images, globalize their food industries, attract foreign tourists, and build relations with foreign publics — at the same time strengthening their national identity and pride. The actors are no longer limited to state politicians and their chefs but include food corporations, celebrity chefs, tourist agencies, public relations firms, public diplomacy practitioners, TV cooking shows, and social media.

Can you give us a couple of countries or case studies where Gastrodiplomacy is happening?

The region in which the most work has been done is South-East Asia, but there have been projects in other parts of the world, including South America (especially Peru), Europe and the United States. Apart from culinary nation-branding initiatives, there are other practical applications of culinary diplomacy that are performed by the mere citizens.

Gastrodiplomacy is a manner of creating greater soft power — the power of influence, by making distinct culture more attractive through better understanding of all the culture entails. For countries like Peru and South Korea, the benefits of gastrodiplomacy have been profound as each respective nation’s cuisine has topped the charts of the popular food trend lists.

Gastrodiplomacy helps under-recognized nation brands such as Taiwan or Korea, among others, to attract broader international attention for their culture through their cuisine, and thus indirectly enhance their soft power. Or it can help great powers like the USA ‘soften’ their image. And of course, it is an excellent means to boost economic development and improve the social situation and national self-awareness for countries like Peru. In the case of each nation, the cultural narrative acted as a cohesive social force, uniting neighbourhoods, villages, regions, and the nation, offering a sense of belonging and pride. The private, public and civil sectors have the capability to resurrect the positive narrative through a systematic approach to national gastronomy. As a relatively new discipline, gastrodiplomacy has already proven itself effective as a soft power instrument of public diplomacy. Its importance is highlighted by the general trend of globalisation, where it is becoming more difficult, especially for smaller countries, to showcase their national identity. It has the potential to reshape public diplomacy through its promotion of gastronomic exchange between nations, as well as its strengthening of cultures through accentuating a sense of pride for nationals. The number of ways in which a nation —and each citizen — can utilize gastrodiplomacy is endless.

What would you say are the conditions that a destination should have to make Gastrodiplomacy a success?

The most popular gastrodiplomacy strategies: quality, evidence-based content creation and storytelling, media strategy, brand ambassadors, fighting for official recognition, food and wine festivals, affiliations, agricultural product marketing, specific education, social and economic measures…

But the recipe of success requires only 5 quintessential ingredients:

  1. Consolidate the forces and create a powerful lobby.
  2. Include gastronomy in as many of the actions of the destination as possible.
  3. Reinvest profits and constantly improve the quality of the experience and guarantee it.
  4. Do not overdo it: nationalist ideas do not lead to anything good.
  5. Measure the results and correct the strategy respectively.

Food and wine seem to go hand in hand yet we hear about food tours and wine tours – are these two different types of tourism?

Definitely not. Wine is a part of gastronomy and should not be considered separately. At least if we want people to understand not only this wine in a glass but all the history and landscape required to make it.

Keep up to date with the wine and culinary tourism industry at the next International Wine Tourism Conference (IWINETC)

About Irina

Irina Gusinskaya — food, wine and tourism expert but still meticulous editor, enthusiastic publisher, accomplished blogger with 15+ years experience. For the last 7 years I’ve been working as deputy editor-in-chief in Alpina Publisher. (A short article about my publisher’s alter ego can be found here.)

In 2016 I moved to Spain to turn my passion into a new profession — to study the Master of Food Tourism in Basque Culinary Center, and the next year my Master thesis won the Gourmand Award in two nominations — Innovative and Embassies. You can download the whole thesis in Spanish here.

Since that time I’ve also become a certified sommelier and spirits master (Madrid Chamber of Commerce), whilst still working as an editor and organizing gastrotours — thus practicing the gastrodiplomacy.

Ref. my LinkedIn profile for more details.

Take a Holistic View of your Online Tech

Tourism tech is a hot topic – and a difficult one for wine and culinary tourism organisers: which to choose and when, how to integrate it into the planning process, the tourist experience, how to make people embrace it rather than resist it…. Roberta Garibaldi, responsible for “Food Tourism Research & Trends” for the World Food Travel Association, gives an appetizer of her talk scheduled for IWINETC 2020.

Your talk at the upcoming edition of IWINETC 2020 is about improving customer experience through technologies. What level of tech maturity do you see today in the wine and culinary tourism industry?

Wine and culinary tourism industry are currently embracing new technologies. A number of examples from different industries (restaurants, producers, themed museums, …) testify that such tools have been, and are being, adopted.  According with my experience, the level of maturity is slightly lower compared to other tourism sectors. Especially when considering producers of food and wine. It must be said that technology was formerly introduced to facilitate disintermediation and sharing of information; only in recent years, has taken on more sophisticated and relevant functions, becoming both enhancer and enabler of experiences in the co-creation value.
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 tomorrow?

It is now difficult to answer to this question, considering the health emergence that we are currently facing and is deeply affecting the tourism sector. Previously, providing customized holidays and focusing on niche products might have been considered appropriate suggestions.

What does it take to choose a new tech solution aimed at improving customer satisfaction? 
Technology can facilitate the development of enhanced experiences where customers actively participate and interact with virtual contents and places as well as enable a dynamic co-creation process with visitors allowed to create their own experience. Wine tourism operators should properly consider what they want to achieve and what are the most suitable technologies to be adopted for this purpose. Also evaluating the additional costs and future benefits. In covid 19 time, tech can help the wineries to be in touch with the customers, e tastings, e tourism could help in these months.
From your own experience would you say wine tourism experience providers embrace new tech or resist it? Can you provide an example or two of wineries that have embraced it?  

Wine tourism experience providers are embracing new technologies. Hennessy Maison (Cognac, France) and the “Living Wine Labels” project provide examples of the possible application.

Hennessy Maison offers the opportunity to enjoy different technologies during the guided tour. This experiences allow to discover the entire winemaking process, from ‘the birth of grape to the glass of wine”, and to be introduced to the range of products that can be appreciated in the tasting room.

Living Wine Labels is the updated version of the “19 Crimes” app, a project created by American Tactic agency between 2016 and 2017 for the Treasury Wine Estates group. By scanning the bottle label with the camera the user has access to a range of information in augmented reality. The content is told by different characters shown on the label, such as ex-convicts in the case of the “19 crimes” brand. Data testifies it success:
– 700+ Million impressions
– 8+ Million App Sessions
– 4 star rating in Apple and Google Play Store
– 22+ Million Total Screen Views
– 4+ Million App Downloads
– 2:57 Average Session Duration

How can co-creation help customer satisfaction when it comes to wine and culinary tourism?
Co-creation allows visits to actively participate and interact with people and places. A higher level of engagement can make the visitor more satisfied the experience he/she is doing. In this scenario technology mainly plays a complementary role, as it supports the tourism experience. New technologies can also empower and become an integral part of the tourism experience, enabling a dynamic co-creation process, can facilitate the edutainment; at this level, technology has a crucial role and needs to exist for the experience to happen.

Meet Roberta at IWINETC 2020 where he will be delving deeper in the topic of  How to Improve Customers’ Experience for Wine through Technologies

Time to take a look at your Digital Marketing

No small matter. Judith Lewis of DeCabbit a SEO, PPC, Social Media and Digital Marketing Training & Consultancy tells us about Digital Marketing in the wine and culinary tourism industry. Her experience and know-how will help you take a look at the way you market your winery tour services and get you motivated to battle through the Pandemic Covid-19.

Your upcoming talk at IWINETC 2020 is titled: Website Optimisation and Digital Marketing for Dummies in the Wine Tourism Industry. How would you define dummy?

The ‘dummies’ name is more in the style of the books ‘XYZ for Dummies’ as a way of expressing a value-based simplification of a difficult specialism. By focusing in on communicating only the really important bits, rather than everything, it enables businesses to focus in on the most important elements which have a real business impact and so it is better to ask help from the link experts available in https://serpninja.io/cannabis-cbd-seo/ link who have successfully been in this field for a long time. There is, of course, a lot that goes in to assessing and optimising, a website but there are some more straightforward fundamentals that, if you get them right, can have a really big impact on ranking and visibility. People can check these comparison websites if they need information on businesses and insurance.

You have talked in the past about leveraging Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for wine tourism. Can you update us on any new trends which may be of use for wine and culinary tourism professionals?

Facebook remains the place that everyone seems to reside but they have improved their platform with additional targeting. Email marketing is not only the best medium for sales but using email lists of your best customers can help you design lookalike audiences on Facebook to ensure your marketing budget is spent on targeting people most likely to want your services or product but who don’t already know your brand. Twitter can still be used with scheduling in place as I have spoken about previously. Linking Instagram, Twitter and Facebook is still straightforward using either the native app or IFTTT (If This Then That) so there are easy free efficiencies there or for a paid solution there’s Hootsuite, Sendible or others. Don’t try and leverage Snapchat for organic reach unless you have the time to invest but you can use paid advertising there now unlike TikTok.  This deck does not cover Tictik or the new Snapchat advertising but attendees of my 2018 session on “Getting Seriously Social” may remember this deck: https://www.iwinetc.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/1.4-Ballroom-IWINETC-Getting-Seriously-Social.pdf. Are you searching for guest posting services or blogger outreach agencies? At https://indexsy.com/guest-post-services/ you will find the top guest posting services. Link building is a core factor in SEO, so it is a necessity for your website to thrive. Using guest posting and blog outreach softwares to create quality backlinks for your website with ease!

Would you say Google Travel is having or will have any impact on wine tourism businesses worldwide?

I don’t think Google Travel is as big a threat to tourism as it is to travel. While Google has created a multitude of destination guides, wine tourism is in the enviable position is including guides with specialist knowledge, access to cellars that are inaccessible by the general public arranging their own journey, and expertise to visit the most relevant wineries for the region – not just those with the biggest marketing budget. Google did purchase a PSS solution (ITA software) and has had a comparison engine guilt in to the search results which outranks the brand itself, and has for some time. This is a serious threat to airlines and travel companies as this usually results in Google being paid a fee on the successful completion of a purchase even when the search was for the brand and the searcher had intended to purchase directly from the brand. That is a huge issue but thankfully wine tourism for the moment while there are specialists with a passion for communicating the story of their local wineries and wines, it will be less impacted by Google’s destination guides than other types of tourism businesses.

How can players in the wine tourism industry make their webs sites more visible to customers?

They need to follow the steps to properly optimise a website which are: research the topic; group the keywords into topic groups (small groups of keywords clustered around a tight set of keywords, not too diverse); decide which page related to which topic (if more than one, split the content up); write naturally; optimise the title tag for keywords but also make it attractive for people (ranking factor); optimise the mete description (not for ranking but for clicks); make sure you include the target keywords once on the page but otherwise write naturally; ensure internal links point to the page; write naturally (did I mention you should write naturally?).

For example, I just looked at a website that had duplicated title tags trying to rank for a single keyword across multiple pages. Not only did this not work, the title tag (the short title that Google uses in the search results, often taken from the headline of the page by WordPress but this is editable using a plug-in like Yoast) was replaced by Google because it was so useless. This teaches us that each page should be targeted at one topic only, title tags should reflect the unique, single topic using our keywords, and the meta description should be compelling, making people want to click. Many SEO specialists, like Victorious, know that it is important to utilize proper optimization in order to make our websites visible.

For more tips, IWINETC attendees from 2016 will remember I did an epic masterclass on this. The slides for that masterclass are here: https://www.iwinetc.com/iwinetcspeakers/judith-decabbit-lewis/

We are starting to hear about online tours where the customer is sent wines or tapas, video links to guides and written and visual documentation to their homes. Do you think this will be the future for wine and culinary tourism after the coronavirus lockdowns? That being the case, how should web sites change so they stay relevant and in business tomorrow?

I love the new subscription boxes I see with wine or gin plus snacks that are coming out which enable people to discover the wines and foods of a region each month or two or whatever. I think that this approach is fantastic as an additional offering to core wine tours, enabling people who may not be able to travel for whatever reason (time, fear, budget) to still virtually tour different wine regions, experiencing the difference terroir makes to not only wine but also the other products grown nearby.

As to the optimisation, because this is so new, there isn’t quite the search demand but it could easily become something should the restrictions on travel not ease substantially. As to selling, I think it is the kind pf product that could be added as a virtual wine tour, where different packages are offered to people for different wineries or regions where they get the package of wine and tapas or food of the region and a recorded guided tour of the cellar, winery, and the different farms involved. Given these could be recorded solo with a selfie stick and mic, or with two people from the same household, it could be recorded now with proper social distancing. This is then referenced using a QR code or similar link that is password protected so it isn’t just accessible to everyone and the content held that way. By relating the virtual tour to the in-person tours, within the same suite of packages, you can cross-sell to people who were looking for the tours. The key thing would be getting creative with Facebook advertising through targeting those lookalike audiences and advertising the new virtual tasting tours to that group and selling through that way. Sadly the SEO side of things might not work as quickly but if the packaging is sorted with the alcohol shipping regulation issues ironed out, it could work very well.

Meet Judith at IWINETC 2020 where she will be delving deeper in the topic of Website Optimisation and Digital Marketing for Dummies in the Wine Tourism Industry

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, the occasional bingo for money app on the phone, 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:

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