Knowledge & Business have been the International Wine Tourism Conference’s (IWINETC) 5 day theme this year for close on 300 registered delegates from some 25 different countries tuning in from diverse grape escape destinations such as Austria, Australia, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Croatia, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Moldova, Portugal, Spàin, Slovenia, Serbia, UK, USA to name a few and from host region, Friuli Venezia Giulia and many other regions of Italy.
The 2 day Wine Tourism B2B Workshop between agents and media and wine tourism experience providers had more than 700 appointments scheduled and proved to be the business highlight of the 5 day event with many more meetings conducted after the meeting schedule through online meeting platforms.
IWINETC was scheduled to happen in person 27 – 29 October 2020 and to be hosted in the beautiful and spectacular grape escape destination that is Friuli Venezia Giulia with the support of Premium sponsors Promoturismo FVG
The 3 day conference programme saw a line of up of world class speakers providing excellent and relevant presentations for attendees to savour in these difficult times. Anthony Swift event Director provides some of the salient points from the conference talk programme:
“On day 1 Lucio Gomiero uncorked IWINETC giving delegates a taste of the Wine and culinary delights of the Friuli Venezia Giulia region. Chris Torres kept our spirits up by suggesting that the way forward at least in the next 12-18 months is to focus on domestic markets – staycation to coin a new word for the Oxford English dictionary. Jonathan Gomez Punzon of the United Nations World Tourism Organization gave a bitter taste of the new reality, the new normal but then served up that wine tourism and rural tourism are one of the safest kinds of tourism and will thrive during these challenging times but we have to adapt by providing safe experiences, by partnering up within a given destination, by providing excellence – a reason to travel he stated.
Day 2 saw WTM’S Responsible Tourism Advisor, Harold Goodwin present “The Business Advantage of Responsible Tourism”. Responsible Tourism is important for providing authentic experiences and ensuring that wine tourists do not have negative experiences. Caring for customers tailoring to their needs – show respect and care. You are only strong as the weakest link in your chain he said. Bubbly Judith Lewis gaves us food for thought when it comes to Post-Covid Website Optimisation and Digital Marketing in the Wine Tourism Industry. Cristina Mascanzoni Kaiser live from a winery on Lake Garda defined the luxury traveller of today as being a person seeking tailor-made experiences according to culture, a wine lover looking for a unqiue offer and for a wine tourism experience provider to be trained and responsible. She coined the phrase Be hospitalian! Francesco Bacarini topped up day 2 showing delegates the online booking platform Vitinera where a DIY wine tourist can book a winery visit in the Friuli Venezia Giulia and in other wine regions of Italy. A useful tool still in the fermentation stage.
Day 3 saw Marianna Sigala give a seminar on wine tourism Innovation during COVID-19 and this was followed by a seminar on “How to Improve Customers’ Experience for Wine through Technologies” with speaker Roberta Garibaldi. Peter Syme stressed the importance of understanding the customer journey and a few dos and don’ts when it comes to using Online Travel Agents.Champagne Tourist Board Director, Philippe Harant presented the Winetourism Lab project which aims to assist (coaching, financial advice….) wine tourism business iniciatives in the the region. Following on was a presentation of The Lower Austrian Wine Region.
Swift in the closing plenary session ended the IWINETC 2020 conference programme by saying “Despite the challenging times we find ourselves in, the wine tourism industry is clearly on the rise and people are looking online for wine tourism, accommodation and complementary activities to do in a wine region such as wine country bike tours, trekking and tasting, yoga, a place where kids can run around doing treasure hunts and so on. Chris Torres showed us this in his talk on day 1”.
Swift went on to address the audience by saying: “You right now are in the right business. We must now invest in our marketing efforts, take heed of all the advice given by our expert speakers, sit down with a glass of your favourite wine and watch the conference replays, take notes, think, action. You will win. You will thrive. You will be enjoying the new vintages when others with their heads in the sand will not or may well not. The future is bright for all who understand that wine tourism is a sustainable business opportunity”
Lara Persello in charge of the Area Enogastronomia – Strada del Vino e dei Sapori del Friuli Venezia Giulia and on behalf of Promoturismo FVG said a few final words and extended an open invitation for all conference delegates to discover Friuli Venezia Giulia as soon as travel restrictions are eased or removed.
Swift finished up by saying that “IWINETC will be back in 2021 and an announcement will be made in the New Year”.
The International Wine Tourism Conference (IWINETC) is the world’s leading conference, exhibition and B2B Workshop for the wine and culinary tourism professionals. Organised by wine tourism professionals for wine tourism professionals, the IWINETC includes a conference programme of around 25 talks, an exhibition area for providers to show grape escape destinations from around the world, a B2B Workshop for agents to meet with wine tourism experience providers and networking events to discover the host destination for the duration of the event. IWINETC attracts professionals working in travel agencies, wineries, hospitality, tourist boards, regional govenrment, associations, universities, wine import and activity organisers.
For the first time, IWINETC was run virtually from 26 – 30 October 2020 (3 day conference and 2 day B2B Workshop).