With the significant rise in food and wine expenditure by international visitors, thanks to campaigns like Restaurant Australia and 100% Pure New Zealand, many wineries are increasingly relying on selling wines direct to consumers via their tasting rooms.
Even though a lucrative multi-million dollar market, wine tourism is also an extremely competitive market within Australia and New Zealand.
Let’s put this into perspective – over 2,500 wineries dotted throughout 65 wine regions in Australia and 11 wine regions in New Zealand.
In this space, it’s next to impossible to be found, let alone increase wine tasting room visitation and direct to customer wine sales without establishing a credible online presence.
Sadly, many wine brands still have not perfected the online space and are ignoring the benefits of not only a cohesive digital marketing strategy but also the importance of the wine traveler and their specific needs and wants.
If you really want to be competitive in the wine tourism space, you have to take into consideration the wine tourist. What are they doing and how will they actually find your tasting room in a crowded wine tourism destination?
Do you realize that on average 85% of leisure travelers only decide on what activities they are going to do once they have arrived in a destination? That’s a pretty powerful number of people visiting your wine region that do not have a set itinerary and may be persuaded to visit your cellar door!
And – they are traveling with a super computer in their pocket.
So what can you do to optimise your wine tasting room’s online presence so wine tourists can easily find you and therefore, visit you?
Website, website, website
First off you do need a website.
Invest in a website that is responsive, easy to navigate and search optimized (please take note of these three important components). If you do not have a website that covers at a minimum, these three components you’re just hemorrhaging wine tourist visitation and sales.
There are many reasons, but at the end of the day your customer expects it and Google expects it.
Don’t worry though.
Your website doesn’t have to be a big expensive deal – there are many options available from affordable monthly payment eCommerce sites, fully customized WordPress sites and beautiful one-page websites – it really does depend on your business objectives and budget.
Keep this in mind though – your website is working for you 24/7/365. So invest time, effort and $ in it as your website is your hardest working team member. (if you want more info on wine websites take a read of our blog – what to cover in a successful wine website build)
Websites may seem a complex area, so familiarize yourself with a few key terms as they will save you time and money.
- Responsive – simply means it fits or adapts to the size of the screen on which it is being viewed – one website viewable on many devices.
- eCommerce is an online store where you can sell your wines
- Wine Club – a members’ only area. This can get a little confusing so be clear on whether you want a members’ only area in the back of your website or just an email capture area to be able to gain emails or phone numbers for email or SMS marketing
- Search optimized means you’re easy to find on search browsers when your prospective customer types in certain keywords
We offer a free eBook on putting together a website winery brief – download our website design brief guide which will step you through the whole website process.
Google is the undisputed Big Daddy of Search Browsers and also has a suite of products that assist business online. The most important for any wine tasting room is Google My Business as it is ‘the one stop shop’ to get listed on Google.
Listing on Google My Business will save time and avoid the need to make duplicate entries across Google’s multiple products. You need only enter information one time, and it will populate into all of Google’s services. As Google notes “My Business connects you directly with customers, whether they’re looking for you on Search, Maps or Google+”.
It’s a free service AND if you’re asking why should I bother – type your winery name into Google. If your cellar door doesn’t immediately pop up with website link, opening hours, great photos and address…. Let me put it this way… you’re sunk!
Keep your listing updated – don’t just set and forget. By adding new content such as images every 3 to 6 months, you’re giving Google more content. Google loves new content (freshness factor) and will reward you accordingly in the search rankings.
Triumph on TripAdvisor
Like Google, TripAdvisor is the undisputed industry leader in its’ space – Travel Review Sites.
Make no mistake, wine tourists use TripAdvisor, so ignore at your own peril!
Go to TripAdvisor and type in your town or region – then type in “things to do”. Are you even on page one?
To get front and center of wine tourists when you’re competing with 20 to 50 other wineries in your region is not just tough, it can be a herculean feat.
Claim you listing, keep the information up to date and where possible, reply to Reviews – the good, bad and ugly in a timely manner. Ask people when visiting your winery to please write a review. It should become part of your customer service culture – these tactics will eventually reap the rewards.
With the increasing need to ‘pay to play’ on the major social media sites and the lack of reach due to a crowded playing field, many wineries are just giving up.
Stop worrying about vanity metrics such as Likes and Reach and shift your thinking to social sharing and customer advocacy.
Now, don’t get me wrong – I’m not suggesting you stop posting quality content on the major social platforms. What I am saying is tweak your social media marketing strategy. Give your customers visual cues in your tasting room to encourage them to post their experiences on their preferred social platforms.
Think of it this way – the first encounter a potential wine customer may have with your tasting room is not usually intentional, but rather occurs while they are browsing friends’ social media posts.
Thanks to the viral nature of social media, by getting your customers to check-in and share their content they’re doing the heavy lifting for you and promoting your cellar to their friends and family.
Australian Tourism Data Warehouse (ATDW) and Tourism Operator Database (NZ) are free central storage and distribution platforms housing digital tourism information. The content is accessible by tourism operators, wholesalers, retailers and distributors for use in their websites, booking systems and other digital channels. It’s also a great resource that wine and travel writers use regularly. Think of it like Google My Business – you need only enter information in one area and it will populate into many services – globally. Your cellar door information really needs to be on here if you’re serious about increasing visitation.
Spend a bit of time on this. Write good copy, use great imagery and similar to your Google My Business listing update it regularly. Also, list your Food & Wine Events on here.
Partner, Package and Promote
Your business is tied to the success of wine-related tourism in your area, so share content that is related to your destination on social platforms. Work with your regional and state tourism bodies – sign up for their newsletters and find out what campaigns are running online to promote your region and how you can get involved.
These are just a few ideas to help you establish a credible online presence and gain increased winery visitation. If you need more help in this area, please feel free to get in contact as we offer a suite of services created specifically for the wine tourism market.
Until next time….