Loosening Up Helped These Wineries Engage Customers

Getting customers to buy a tasting is great, but getting them to buy a few bottles of wine or sign up for your wine club is even better.

Wine industry professionals who recently spoke with Vintner Magazine agreed that going off script and extending a customer’s stay in your tasting room are good ways to make sure your customers don’t settle the bill after just enjoying a tasting.

“We allow the steward to go off the printed tasting flight when they find a style of wine that the guest is liking, and they swap the selections for the tasting,” said Marketing Director Whitney Hrdlicka of Hope Family Wines’ tasting room in Paso Robles, “We are looking to truly wow every guest and find a wine they won’t leave without. This is our only goal — to wow.”

Keeping things approachable and having wines available at a variety of price points also has led to success in sales for Hope Family Wines. Customers who feel less intimidated and are served by approachable stewards have a great experience, said Hrdlicka, who added that a great experience led to a purchase 100% of the time.

Other incentives to purchase include waiving the $25 per person tasting fee if $100 worth of wine is purchased.

“All of the above seem to work,” Hrdlicka said.

Lost Oak Winery President Roxanne Myers said success in their tasting room looks like getting customers to “stay and play, but not stay too long, camp out and occupy a lot of space.”

Myers said the winery has a few different models that have proven successful in encouraging tasting room bottle purchases. 

“We’re kind of a destination, our North Texas location, so we have music, we have entertainment, we have tours,” she said, “We have magic shows and murder mystery dinners. We have painting classes. We have Happy Hours that extend for three or four hours. We have pickup events where you can taste food samples. 

“Those are all things that extend the stay, and that helps people purchase more than just a tasting.”

The winery also has a location in Fredericksburg. Features that encourage guests to stay there include blending classes and private tasting experiences and a rosé room, where they come in and have a dedicated space just for them. 

“If you engage them for an extended period of time, they stay a little longer, and they want to (buy more),” she said.

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