The iPad in the Wine Tasting Room
Perhaps a binder with info on the winery
These are the primary and ubiquitous tools wineries tend to use for communicating to tasting room visitors. They are the same tools wineries have been primarily using for probably 40 years. Somethings gotta change.
I came across that change when I spoke with Felicia Alvarez, co-owner of Pithy Little Wine Company in San Luis Obispo, while attending the 2010 Wine Bloggers Conference. Pithy has largely done away with paper menus and binders and has put the iPad to use in the tasting room. It's a brilliant idea.
What does Pithy Wine Company use the iPad for in their Tasting Room? According to Felicia:
-Collecting email addresses
-Wine club applications or changes to membership information (ie credit card, address, etc…)
-Collecting orders that will be shipped
-Presenting tasting notes
-Providing maps of wine regions from which they source grapes.
-Photo viewing of wine production, vineyards, labels, bottle shots, events and more.
-Quick links to Facebook, Twitter, & Yelp so people can view their pages and/or post reviews or thoughts on the platform of their choice about Pithy wines and the tasting experience.
-A platform for guests to take notes on their experience and the wines they taste that they then can email directly to themselves or friends.
According to Alvarez: "It is an unobtrusive tool that enhances the tasting experience. People can explore as
much or a little information provided about us on the iPad. If they want to know more about the winery/company they click on that icon. If they want to explore the wince club options they click on that icon. The exploration is truly endless. If they don't want to explore then they place the iPad back in the cradle on the bar or hand it to a tasting room attendant. I have found that most guests enjoy the new technology and the ability to access the information that they are interested in. If the tasting room host is helping another group of guests and someone is waiting to ask a question, they are most likely able to find the information they are looking for on the iPad."
In my view, integration of the iPad is a pretty brilliant use of this new technology. Certainly the presentation of the material is nicer than a simple piece of paper, while wineries can still provide visitors with a takeaway item about the wines after the visit. I fully expect more progressive wineries to incorporate the iPad into the tasting room experience.
Of course how a winery's information is presented on the iPad in the Tasting Room and how the visitor navigates is going to be key to the experience. Alvarez explains their approach:
"We place the icons we want guests to explore on the home screen. If a guest picks up the iPad from the bar or is handed one by the tasting room attendant the default screen has icons that link to the specific portion of our website for each topic. For example, 'Home Page', 'Mailing List', 'Order Wine', 'Wine Club', 'Tasting Menu'. We are always changing the icons and their positioning depending on what we want guests to focus on. For example if we are running a special sale or promotion we will have an icon with a link on the top icon row."
But what about guests that just want to check their email or look in on Facebook?
"Most guests do not surf the web or check email, Alvarez explains, "but it does happen since it is still a new electronic tool that many have never had the chance to experience before and they want to play around a bit. I have found that if they do want to explore the web or check email it is only a positive addition to their experience that we have a tool available for them to easily do so. In that way it is a great customer service piece that is an extra amenity we can provide. Many visitors we see are traveling and may not have smart phones with email or web capabilities. They are appreciative that we have it available for them to use. To date we haven't had a problem with a guest abusing the iPad by spending too much time exploring other sites."
Technology has invaded the tasting room over the past decade. However, little of it has been customer facing, while most of it has been back-end tools for wineries to manage customer relationships. Pithy Wine Company's addition of the iPad into the tasting room strikes me as a most obvious promotional and sales tool that really can changed the customer experience for the positive.