For wine estates and their visitors, the tasting room is a very important component of the full wine experience. Unfortunately, many wineries’ struggle with this very basic aspect. The COVID-19 pandemic has had a negative impact on the South African wine industry, especially if you consider the lockdown liquor bans and lack of international tourists and victors. It is thereby crucial for wineries to optimise their tasting rooms to help increase sales. Wineries need to do all they can to capture the attention of every person that walks through their tasting rooms.
Here are some tips for optimising your tasting room:
Optimise the space
One of the biggest draws for South African wine farms is the beautiful landscapes and wine lands. Even if you are incorporating modern design into your tasting room, visitors love to feel as though they are visiting somewhere that embodies the customs and cultures of the region they are visiting. Embrace the local and make sure that your interior design reflects that locality and culture. Arrange your furniture and tables in such a way that guests can have the best views. Alternatively set up an aesthetically pleasing section where tech-savvy guests can take Instagram-ready pictures to promote your winery on social media.
Optimise the basics
You want to make sure that your visitors have a pleasant experience from the moment they enter the winery. One area that is often overlooked is the basics. There are many things that you have to consider. Think as a visitor would. For example, is there enough suitable parking for guests? Are there wheelchair or pram friendly entrances and exits to the building? Do you have adequate signage to direct visitors to the various sections of your winery? What do the lawns or restrooms look like? Is your tasting room clean and presentable? If these basics are ignored, you will drive visitors away from your winery.
Optimise the experience – Make the tasting worth it
Guests may be visiting your winery for different kinds of experiences. Some may be there for a pleasant relaxing tasting experience, while others will be wine connoisseurs looking to taste your premium wines. Your tasting options need to consider all of these potential guests. Giving your visitors the choice between different tastings lets them decide which options match their mood. Most wineries have standard and premium tasting options, but you can consider food pairs or other unique ways to present your selection. Offering guests a menu or platters is a great way to increase sales. Many guests may want to nibble on something in-between tastings. Offering tours around your facility at a cost is also a great way to encourage guests to spend more at your winery.
Optimise your staff – Train the staff
Your staff is an important part of the guest experience. Make sure that your staff also focus on the basics. They need to welcome the guest in a friendly and professional manner the moment that guests enter the tasting room. They need to be shown a table immediately and the tasting options are clearly explained. Many casual wine tasters may be confused or put off by a complicated tasting so make sure that your staff guides them through it. Your staff need to be well informed about the winery’s history and wines. They should be able to answer all your guests’ potential questions. Provide staff incentives so that your staff is just as passionate about your wines and winery as you are!
Embrace the digital
One sure-fire way to encourage guests to buy wine after their tasting is to make the check-out process easy and convenient. Guests may be put off by long queues at the checkout counter so try and offer guests table-side service. Modern Cloud-based mobile Point of Sale software allows your staff to take orders and process payments while at the guest’s table. A smoothly running point-of-sale system is crucial to employee success and customer satisfaction.
Make use of this mobile point of sale system to also gather guest data. A smart POS system can help you gather customer contact details as well as customer spending behaviour, such as favourite wine varietal or wine label, etc. Using this data, you can send targeted communications to guests going forward and therefore perhaps increase future sales. A digital wine club can keep your winery in the minds of guests.
As mentioned, the tasting room is a very important part of your overall winery operation, but it can be quite complex. It is crucial that you pay attention to every detail to optimise your tasting room operations. Remember to start with the basics, consider who your guests are, train your staff and embrace the digital. Make sure that you have the right point of sale software in place to deliver great customer service, and you’ll be well placed to drive traffic, convert repeat sales, club sign-ups, and of course, create happy customers for life!