Should we bother with wine tourism? If so how do we get them to visit our region?

May 12, 2012 | 2013 Croatia

The purpose of this talk is twofold. Firstly, it sheds light on the question Wine Tourism. Should we bother? Secondly, it demonstrates how wine experience tourism providers can gain new customers and keep existing ones loyal with little or no monetary cost.

In 2011 the Great Wine Capitals Global Network published a market survey titled Financial Stability and Viability of Wine Tourism Business in the GWCN which includes Cape Town, Bordeaux, Florence, Mendoza, Mainz, Rioja, Porto and Napa Valley.

The figures

Great Wine Capitals Gloal NetworkOld world have a wine tradition the goes back to the 17th century while New World wine cities as the term suggests have a younger wine tradition that goes back to the 90’s. Data gathered reveals that wine tourism in both New and Old world dates back to the 90’s

The number of tourists per year reaches its peak in summer, which does not come as a surprise (70.5% of the visitors) Well it does come as a surprise to me as summer for Wine Pleasures is low season. High season being March to June and September to November. Why? From our own research i.e. asking our customers the answer is that a wine tour is a second holiday taken by adults and without the kids. Summer holidays are spent with the whole family and probably by the sea.

Can you estimate the average spending of each visitor?

The average spending per visitor is between 30 and 200 US$ (depends of course on the region)  200$ Florence, 188$ Napa, Rioja 30$ – that’s probably because Spain doesn’t charge for the visit!

Which are the most important benefits that wine tourism brings to your winery and region?

68, 9% Improve image, 61, 9% Increase revenue, 35, 6% increase employment


Wine Tourism with Wine PleasuresMost promotion is done through the Tourist Information Office (68%), wine tasting events (63, 7%), mailings/newsletters (61%) Traditional advertising is low – 28.6%

28, 4% said that the most effective promotion was in coming travel agents and tour operators.

Activities offered by the wineries are often limited to tasting (83, 1%), and guided visits (74, 9%), only 40% provide food facilities and less than 30% can offer accommodation.

Only in the New World regions the use of social media is widely used. Old Worlds destinations seem to be more attached to a traditional promotion based on wine tasting events and participating in trade fairs.

Wine Sales

What % of your income comes from wine sales and wine tourism?

77, 90% wine sales, 19, 45% tourism activity. Tourists pay for the activity and then they may buy the wine.

What is the most important distribution channel for your wines?

32, 1% direct sales at the winery, 18% Restaurant or Hotel, 16, 8% wine shop.

Do you consider your wine tourism activities as financially viable?

Wine Tourism with Wine PleasuresMajority said yes. Napa 100% yes

63.3% said that wine tourism activities are a good alternative to face economic crisis periods. A good example of this is the MICE market. Gone are days of looking abroad for a foreign destination to hold a MICE activity. Many companies look at something closer to home – wineries make excellent venues for corporate events – team building, meetings and so on.


  • Wine tourism activities seem to be not only sustainable but viable
  • Wine tourism income is steadily growing in each member city
  • New World is taking better advantage from the new technology promotion tools while in the Old World there is suspicion towards the new media
  • Income from wine tourism represents around 20% of total winery income but this figure does not take into account the wine sales that are generated later.
  • Wine tourism is above all a major marketing tool that should be 100% integrated in the commercial strategies of the wineries as the impact is so important for their image around the world.

So how do we attract more wine tourists to our region and business?

While there are hundreds of marketing tools we can use we believe there are only two effective ones:

  1. Run a web site 2.0 and get your messages to your target audience via Social Media
  2. Fam Trips for Tour Operators, Press and Bloggers
  1. Web 2.0 - What's that?Web site 2.0 – what’s that?

The internet has been around for some 30 or so years now. Until recently we had the Web 1.0 where content was static and in the most unchanging. Web pages were passive. Web 2.0 is active allowing for bidirectional dynamic and interactive dialogue. If your web site is not 2.0 then you are losing out on creating a relationship with the end user, or rather your customer, the one that stays in your hotel, eats in your restaurant, visits your museum, goes on a wine country bike tour, visits your winery and buys your wine or olive oil.

1.1 How do we connect with our existing and future customers?

WIne BlogBlogs. Wine and travel related blogs are abound on the internet and as today’s consumer turns more and more to the internet for information he or she is more likely to find a wine blog on say Istria than by searching traditional media such as travel magazines. So if your aim is to brand and market your business to potential customers then you need to get your messages on the first page of a Google search. Running a blog is the one way to do this.

1.2 What is a Blog?

A blog is a dynamic web site which you can manage yourself. Indeed, it is desirable that you do manage it yourself rather than contracting someone to do it for you. By posting information on your blog you can get your message indexed by Google within minutes and with a bit of practice your post will appear on the first page of a Google search.

Let’s Google search a couple of examples:

Wine Tourism Croatia – Wine Tourism Istria

1.3 Blogging – some practical tips

Fantastic wines at VinistraPublish some content at least once a week. Content can be a post on “The Fantastic wines we tried at Vinistra”  “See who visited us at Vinistra”  “Meet some of the people that stayed in our Hotel during Vinistra”.  Talk to people. Interview them. Do a podcast on your iphone. Take hundreds of photos and create an album. Video interview people. Video people tasting your wines, trying your food… Publish all this on your blog and get known, generate communication and sooner or later you will generate traffic to your business and region or vice versa.

#fsd as usual in Porec, Istria, CroatiaPosts don’t have to be 400 – 600 words but can be short and sweet – It’s a fine sunny day as usual in Porec. A photo of an important sommelier trying your wines or a 2 minute podcast or video of someone giving their impressions of a horseback ride through Istrian vineyards.

Be consistent, be honest and don’t give the impression of trying to sell something. Tell stories! A funny thing happened at the winery today……What a surprise we had today…..A ghost story…

So, we have a blog up and running so how do we get people to read it?

1.4 Enter social media tools

Social Media tool boxSocial networks for wine & tourism consumers and wine & tourism professionals are online communities which allow you to connect with consumers and build relationships that lead to on the one hand new customers and on the other loyal customers.

Take a look at these *figures:

90% of online users trust recommendations from people they know
81% of social networkers have received product advice from friends and followers
74% of those were influenced by the advice
70% even trust recommendations from people they don’t know

*Source EWBC in Numbers

Within these networks your grape escape destination and all that reside within the territory (wineries, hotels, agroturismo, wine shops, restaurants, museums, service providers (bike tours, 4×4 trips, balloon, horse, walking) can become household names when people form groups around them.

Where are people forming groups?

1.4.1 Professional

Linked InLinked in has several professional groups that you should join:

Wine and Culinary Tourism Worldwide – open group to for wine tourism experience providers to network with agents and tour operators

EITBTM – closed group for MICE providers to network with buyers

International Wine Network closed group for wineries to network with importers

Travel and Tourism Industry Professionals Worldwide

There are more if you search. Why not create your own? Vinistra?

1.4.2 Social

Facebook is where everybody is so jump on and create a Fan page so you can add content (such as photos, videos or articles) to keep your fans or likees as they are known nowadays updated on your business. Create a closed Group page where members can post their own photos and texts and network with each other. The average Facebook user creates 90 pieces of content per month.

  • TwitterTwitter

Open a twitter account and join the conversation. Twitter provides a platform for you to connect and share with people interested in wine food & tourism. With very little effort you can get your message and brand out to thousands of people several times a day which in turn will generate traffic to your main web site. Twitter has some 100 million active users each month. 64 Masters of Wine (25% of all MWs) are on twitter.

  • VimeoSocial Video sites – YouTube, Vimeo

Create an account on Vimeo and then start to make some videos – share your winemaking philosophy, show them how to make a typical local dish, explain why your wines match a known dish, a tour around the hotel kitchen chatting to the chefs, a How to video.. How to open a bottle of sparkling wine, how to taste wine……how to find white truffles….

Once you have created your video you can then embedded them on your own blog posts on your own websites. Create an account on You Tube and upload your video for added exposure.

  • Some tips
    • Social is the key word here – be social – comment on other people’s blogs and chat using social media tools
    • Use day-to-day language. Forget the corporate spiel
    • Getting started can be tough and lonely on the social media. Be patient (give yourself 4 months or so) and build up connections without being in a rush. Ask someone to hold your hand!
  • Show up in GoogleShow up on Google

Type your name into Google and see who is talking about you. Many of you will see that there are people talking about you and you yourself are not. By starting a blog you’ll see your posts start to appear in Google. Talk about not only yourself  but also about other wine tourism experience providers in your territory so that when the consumers is searching for example Kabola he will find reference to Trapan in the same article.

  • Get on Skype so people can chat with you, your winemaker or your wine tourism manager
  1. Fam Trips for Tour Operators, Press and Bloggers

which way BillyFamiliarization Trips (Fam Trips, for short) for Tour Operators and Travel Agents are common practice for the travel industry. For the tourism provider it is probably by far the most cost-effective marketing tool they can invest in to gain greater market share and sales. The provider is able to appeal to the Agent’s five senses by providing culinary and cultural experiences. This kind of marketing activity aims to inspire the agent to design and develop new products using the destination and providers sponsoring the Fam Trip as well as of course helping to sell their product better.

Wines of CroatiaWith Internet, consumers are using Google and twitter as their sole source of information gathering. Traditionally, travel lovers went to their local travel agent to choose their next holiday. Nowadays they are looking through blogs, social media sites, and forums… for all sorts of information (hotels, restaurants, local transport, attractions…) on a holiday destination. FIT travelers are now able to tailor-make their own itineraries and of course book their flights directly with the airline company making the local travel agent void and useless. MICE travel is also jumping over the middle man often booking directly (and saving 15-20%) with the Hotel venue for their conferences and meetings.

Today’s Internet provides not only a wealth of information (much more than most travel agents currently provide) but also allows the user to dialogue with the blogger, asking questions, requesting further information, asking for clarification and so on. Blogging is changing the way we both find, and sift, through information about travel. With rapidly increasing numbers of travel blogs being created, people searching the net are bound to come up with a travel blog before any travel agent web site.

Blogger Fam Trip iwinetc 2012Wine Pleasures, over the last 7 years and now as part of its annual International Wine Tourism Conference (IWINETC) has been organizing Fam Trips for international tour operators and travel agents. In 2011 Conference (Porto, Portugal) we took an innovative step forward and created an 8 day Fam Bloggers/Media Trip which provided bloggers with an abundance of material on cultural, culinary and wine tourism. In 2012 (Perugia, Italy) we repeated the event and the results were spectacular in terms of the amount of content published internet – more than 2,000 posts have been made to date on some aspect of the Fam Trip programme – and there are still new posts to be published. That is not to mention the thousands of tweets made prior to during and after the event.

Esplanade Regent venue for iwinetc 2013IWINETC 2013 is of course coming to Croatia in 2013 from 15 – 17 March and will consist of 2 days of talks, one day workshop for wine tourism experience providers to meet with international tour operators specialized in wine and culinary tourism – Fam Trips to Istria, Dalmatia and Zagreb and Slovenia and we hope to get sponsorship to repeat a Blogger/Media Fam Trip.

Participate in this event either in person or from a distance and you will benefit. Let the opportunity pass by and you will be disappointed.

Nowadays you can control your own commercial destiny with respect to wine and culinary tourism. You don’t need to rely on journalists, wine and food critics.

To sum up

  • Wine Tourism is both sustainable and viable
  • Wine tourism should form a part of your overall marketing plan
  • Wine tourism experience providers that set up and run an active blog will win in today’s market place. Those of you who do not will lose.
  • Wine tourism experience providers who are exploiting the social media channels by conversing with wine and culinary tourism lovers will win. Those that do not will lose.

Anthony Swift Vinistra, Poreč, Istria (Croatia), Saturday 12 May 2012.


See you in Zagreb for the 5th Annual International Wine Tourism Conference & Workshop

Iwinetc Banner 2013Here are some blogs you should know about which are talking about Croatian wine and culinary tourism:

Istria Aficionado

Come for the Wine


Blue Danube Wine Company

Wines of Croatia

Taste of Croatia

There aren’t many at the moment but just wait and see how many there will be by the time the International Wine Tourism Comes round in 2013!

International Wine Tourism Conference (IWINETC)

Founded in Spain in 2009, the International Wine Tourism Conference (IWINETC) has now accommodated over 2,500 wine & culinary tourism professionals in 45 different countries throughout the world.

Though opportunities for international networking, professional development, and world class industry information you will find that our conferences and workshops offer unique ways to discover grape escape destinations around the world.

IWINETC is the destination for those involved in wine, gastronomy and tourism. So come along and share your point of view and gain from the experience of others.


Tel: +34.93.897.70.48

Wine Events Worldwide.
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