by Melissa Piper Nelson
To create a positive presence across media platforms is to understand the importance of the greeting that comes before the actual hello. Potential customers already know a great deal about your operation and your product even before they arrive at your doorstep. With all the introductory information already available, you may wonder why any initial greeting, in this case at your tasting room or event, demands special attention.
Here are a few reasons why: Close to 43 million tourist visits are made to wineries each year, which support thousands of jobs. Those visitors spend more than $17.6 billion with benefits to local communities (WineAmerica). The craft beer industry, where the tasting room and pub experience is important, is expected to account for 20 percent of the overall American beer market by the year 2020 (Brewers Association).
In other words, recent industry studies are showing a destination experience still rates high with craft drinkers and winery visitors. So what constitutes the greeting before the hello? It is the essential ambience and branding your business is built upon. Many travelers have arrived at a destination which looked picture perfect online or in the brochure only to be disappointed at the actual physical location. And customer satisfaction is linked to sales. Data collected for the Northern Grape Project, funded by the USDA, noted the “average amount of money spent at the tasting room (wineries) increased as level of customer satisfaction increased.”
Economic reports estimate there are over 10,000 winery facilities in all 50 states and “75 percent of adults of legal drinking age live within 10 miles of a brewery” (WineAmerica and Brewers Association), and then customers interested in quality destination food and beverage experiences have many options from which to choose. That translates to tasteful and comfortable surroundings, top quality customer service, superior products and creating an overall greeting that not only promises that package, but delivers it as well.
Certainly, online and liquor store sales present other, and sometimes more convenient, methods of purchasing your product, but various age groups still find the destination experience important. It links with purchasing from someone or some business they feel a connection with. Branding then becomes a key factor in the greeting before the hello. It establishes who you are and what your vision is for your product. Branding becomes more than a logo on a t-shirt — it is the overall foundational feeling you create through advertising, promotions, ambience and attention to detail. It is your story about your product.
Years ago, marketers emphasized selling “the sizzle with the steak.” The same is true today, you can create a great product but fail to develop its full potential without providing a satisfying customer experience. Potential customers are not shy about expressing whether you have delivered on your promise and their word reaches thousands of others seeking information. Along with production and operational concerns, it is advisable to create and maintain an atmosphere which encompasses customer care. In other words, create the experience, even before visitors show up at your location.
If you require another reason, consider data reported from the Northern Grapes Project and outlined in a Penn State wine blog. “Study participants that rated their tasting room satisfaction level a ‘4’ out of ‘5’ (highest level of satisfaction) purchased an average of 2.8 bottles of wine, but those who rated their tasting room satisfaction a ‘5’ out of ‘5’ purchased an average of four bottles.”
Welcome visitors to your tasting room to connect with you, your business and your product and begin to build relationships that create loyal customers, good reviews and