Getting the Attention of a Concierge in the Wine Industry

Getting the Attention of a Concierge in the Wine Industry

This past week at the Wine Marketing & Tourism conference we had the change to listen to a panel of speakers talking about wineries can get in front of those in the Concierge industry. ]

  • Colby Smith, Founder, CANVAS, Moderator
  • Christine McMillan, Independent Concierge, CM Destinations & Consulting
  • Maggie Walker, Lead Concierge and Wine Director, Kenwood Inn & Spa

Getting the Attention of a Concierge in the Wine Industry

Notes from the Q&A with professional wine concierge individuals and strategists. Keep in mind that this information paraphrased based on what I heard and the context of the Q&A session.

What is the state of Pay to Play in the winery business?

Christine: It’s difficult right now because the concierge industry is dealing with wineries and activities companies that are somewhat self-serving. The element of discovery is removed when you have a pay to play situation.

Colby: a common problem that wineries face is that a concierge comes and visits, but then they never send any customers. But that’s part of matching the right person to the right experience. The Win-Win theory is at play here, with a good guest experience, they will share with their friends.

What do you have to do to get a wine concierge to send business to a winery?

Colby: The guest experience is paramount – paying attention to the guest experience means that that guest gives good feedback, which feeds more visitors from a concierge.  It’s the wineries job to get everyone excited.

Maggie: It’s a relationship between the concierge and wineries – there’s a trust factor that if I send guests to you, that you will take care of them.  We want to know the new experiences that are happening at wineries, along the way, we build relationships with wineries. We’re interested in seeing how you speak with people and seeing what the personality of the property is like.  Staff turnover tends to show a problem, so seeing different people all of the time at a winery is a flag.

Christine: Building trust through google customer service is important, and high turnover is a feature of good or bad customer service.  I spend time with my guests before they leave me, so that I know what type of experience they want.

Communication: What are the best ways to communicate with a wine concierge?

Colby: Give me a call if something outside of the normal way of operating happens, that way we know the situation and can provide that feedback with the guest.

Christine: Guests will love that you took the time to follow up with them to ensure that they had a good experience.

What are your guests most challenging issues that you have to solve?

Christine: When guests request that they want to have a too unique of an experience, such as 8 people having dinner in a cave. When you let people know that the experience tends to be a private event, they are disappointed.  Wineries also are dealing with people wanting to have dinner at the winery.  One great idea is to have a winery send special wine to your hotel, to have along with dinner.

Maggie: Pricing special experiences and tastings is a critical change that needs to happen. Dinner pricing and tasting pricing is getting high, and it’s causing the experience to be more limited. People are doing 2 of 5 tastings instead of 5 of 5 due to prices.

Christine: Pricing needs to be in the $60-$85 range. Above that, wineries need to have something special that is being experienced by the guest.  A tasting in a small group setting can be a premium.

General Discussion About the Wine Industry & Concierge Services

Maggie: Most of my guests are 2nd time visitors, they see the value in having someone be able to find the right winery experience and wine taste that fits for their group.

Colby: when reaching out to a concierge, look for opportunities to provide a relationship building gift or invite.  Invite the concierge to a special event or wine club event – this helps a lot! Some wineries have said to me, when we have an event coming up with our club member – if you have someone that you have vetted that fits in, and I will try to include them in our special day for our club members.  The benefit for a winery that does this, is that the new visitor will be surrounded by your brand loyalists.

Christine: It’s wonderful when a winery calls me up to confirm a wine event or tasting for the next day. I have to confirm this information for my guests and it’s wonderful if they are being proactive – that’s a relationship building activity.

Colby: Consider different activities to get people onto the property – like Yoga! It’s growing as a thing to do in the winery experience. Of course, horseback riding is an opportunity too.

Christine: Make the activities about having some downtime with the guests, they need it. We try to educate people on the geography of the area, make sure to drink water all day, setting the right expectations and how to have a good time in wine country.

Work with the VRBO and Airbnb owners so that you can get into the list of the things to do. Guests really do listen to the suggestions that lodging locations make.

Scott Fish