Time and time again, during discussions with prospective sites, event guests are not particularly valued from a perceived revenue perspective, especially when compared to tasting room visitors. Wineries continue to remain focused on building tasting room traffic as well as maximizing the lifetime customer value associated with those visitors to their tasting rooms, while often discounting or ignoring the importance of event guests and event wine sales.
In many cases, it goes even further where the staff at tasting rooms prefer that the winery guests do not come into their tasting rooms before a wedding, and when they do, they think it is unproductive to attend to those visitors.
However, what if those same wedding guests were actually of a similar value to a tasting room visitor and, in many cases, were worth more to the winery? While not every event or wedding guest is the same, not every tasting room is the same from an economic perspective. To help you evaluate the difference, if any, between an event guest and a guest to your tasting room, we want to share with you this calculator we created to help you quantify your reality.
To get a more accurate number that specifically relates to the event and tasting room variances at your property, please click here.
It’s entirely possible, as we find with some of the sites we support that a wedding guest is worth as much or more than a tasting room visitor. If your calculations show this could be the case, it might be time to rethink your event strategy.
Having to rent a shuttle to bring guests in is not always in a couples budget. Be sure that your parking area is accessible, well lit and has enough space to match your maximum guest count.
Brides are looking for a great space to relax in before the hustle and bustle of the day is upon them. Make this area spacious, inviting and comfortable. It’s important to remember that the bridal party can often include 10 or more people so keep that in mind when creating this space.
It’s the one place most guests see at least once during their visit. Pay close attention to upkeep and cleanliness, and add welcoming decor accents to complete the look.
Did you once have fresh rosemary bushes that are now years old and woody? Perhaps your walkways have cracks and weeds that pop up from time to time? Try to take a walk through your property with fresh eyes once a week to make note of anything you can see that could be an eyesore to your visitors.
Consider investing in lightweight, high quality lounge furniture that can be used in various areas for your tasting room guests, and for weddings alike. Sofas, coffee tables, fire pits and umbrellas can increase overall value and ambiance with ease.
Selling wine is not an easy task, and clearly, it is not getting any easier. Given the landscape and headwinds that exist, is there an alternate path that could be taken to help bump wine sales?
We have found that the perception of events being an essential wine sales channel is far from being universally embraced. This point of view is because of several factors, which include:
What if you could flip this result and produce higher wine sales, wine prices, and wine club sign-ups while lowering wine club terminations?
How can you average a bottle per person for an event and 3- 5% wine club sign-ups too?
The answer is in how you sell wines to prospective event clients, as well as how you sell your wine to a host who has recently booked your site.
Most clients, who are the decision-makers as it relates to site selection, are first and foremost interested in your site. Unless you get the site booking, you will not get the ensuing wine sales. Therefore, when touring your venue, show your wine quickly during the initial splash. It’s not the time to wax on about all you have put into it, but rather the time to describe how you have an affordable wine list that can help manage event costs.
Once the prospective client understands how your list can be optimized to help them look good and also be right for their budget, they book your site, and you can begin to upsell. The upsell requires you to understand the menu they are creating and have a good working relationship with the caterer they have selected. With this knowledge, your wine lead can highlight proper pairings during the tasting as well as great pairings. Most of the time, these great pairings are the ones that translate to higher price point wines being select as part of the event menu and an increase in event wine sales.
As a result, including your net profit on the site rental, each guest at an event should help you generate about $50.00 head in incremental profit. With an average wedding yielding 120 guests, you do the math.
In helping our sites attract the right number of events to maximize their permits successfully, we find that it is first essential to understand who the right client is for your venue. As with most things, one size does not fit all, and, most of the time, fits no one.
When starting to work with a site, we often see the property marketed in generic terms that, in reality, apply to a vast swath of prospective clients. Positioning this way may seem intuitive, but narrowing your focus to find your real creneau, your niche, will ultimately help you achieve better results.
At one of the sites we work with, the entire focus is on the reveal, and the client’s desire to expose various areas sequentially as the event unfolds. For this site, those clients are the key.
At another site, it’s about the tranquility, with a more sedate wedding vibe. Yet another site suits the couple who want to be part of the winery experience, surrounded by the production equipment, the barrels, the vines, seeing the production crew going about their tasks.
Most surprisingly, at another site, the appeal is about footwear, or more specifically, stilettos…hard surfaces with no vineyard dirt to sink into and easy access for those of all ages with possible mobility issues.
The important take away is to understand what makes your site uniquely appealing and different, and then focusing your messaging to attract the right clients that will have a higher propensity to book your venue for those reasons, and at a price that works.
Over the past 5 years, Milestone has helped wineries maximize income and reduce event related stress while generating hundreds of five star reviews.
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Matt is a Sonoma County native. He has worked on the production side of events for over two decades. From bartending, to catering to event planning, Matt has done it all. He co-owned one of Marin County’s premier catering and event planning companies for many years. Matt is passionate about sharing our beautiful wine country and helping to create exceptionally memorable events. When he is not working you can find him mountain biking at Annadel State Park or Skiing in Tahoe, or maybe relaxing at a brewpub after a good trail run. Cheers!