The Right Next Step For Winery Tasting Rooms
We all know how to make reservations. And most all of us know how to make them on-line at this point. We reserve hotel rooms, tables, seats at shows, transportation options and much more. The reason we reserve anything is because there is only a limited number of the things we need and the reservation guarantees us a place or a thing?
Are visits to winery tasting rooms somethng to be reserved?
Increasingly, in Napa Valley and other wine country destinations, a reservation at the tasting room is required. And yet, most folks planning a visit to Napa Valley don't reserve a place at tasting rooms prior to their arrival in the Valley. GoVine is one start-up that believes 1) travelers will begin to reserve their place at the bar in advance and 2) that they can be encouraged to reserve their place. there.
GoVine.com was started by April Madden, a young, vibrant entrepreneur recently relocated to Napa from Seattle. "I've built a wine tourism site that will guide people to the wineries that give them what they want," she says. "If I come to Napa and I want to taste Cabernet Franc, it has taken lots of work to figure out where to go to taste Cab Franc. GoVine provides this information and lots more."
And indeed it does.
Currently, one hits the GoVine.com site and creates a custom tour based on where in Napa Valley you want to tour (St. Helena, Yountville, Howell Mountain, etc), what offerings you want (barrel tastings, cave tours, food pairings, etc), what amenities you require (picnics, gardens, historic sites, etc), and what varietals you want to taste. Put in your requirements and boom, you have a custom map, with wineries and their profiles and in some cases the ability to make reservations at the wineries you've placed on your tour.
GoVine currently is focused on winery tourism in Napa Valley. However, and importantly, it very soon will be expanding its reach to Sonoma County, the Central Coast and Southern California.
From where I sit, the challenge I see facing GoVine is not so much convincing visitors to Wine Country to engage with a site like GoVine in advance of their visit. This can be accomplished with straightforward consumer marketing and media relations that I think will find a receptive audience. What needs to happen for GoVine to go to the next level is convincing wineries to use such a system to promote their on-location experience.
The market for winery visitors in Napa, despite the popularity of this destination, is intense. The vast majority of wineries in Napa now take tastings on a reservation basis only. While folks will drive up to a reservation-only location, wineries often rely on the recommendation of other wineries, concierges at local hotels and B&Bs, restaurants and local, pulp-based tourist publications. Without serious outreach to these kinds of referring partners, a winery, particularly those off the beaten paths, can be in want of visitors.
GoVine charges wineries around $400 to $500 per year for membership. That membership includes the opportunity to cultivate a fan base at the site and communicate with them, use of an email reservation system on GoVine from the winery's profile page, an expanded profile beyond what GoVine has created for wineries already, expanded marketing opportunities with GoVine partners, and placement in pre-created GoVine Tours.
For $400 or so!
This is a bargain even if you just want to experiment.
According to Madden, as soon as GoVine is built out with its Sonoma, Central Coast and Southern California profiles, it will embark on a more robust consumer marketing program including media outreach, expanded integration and use of social media, targeted advertising and expanded partnerships, such at the one they have created with Living Social. This planned consumer outreach by GoVine is very good news for its current client base and future clients.
The number of visitors to Napa Valley is going to increase over the coming years. Its promotional associations are focused on achieving this. Nothing suggests the area will be knocked off its perch as the primary and most visible wine region in America. And Napa=lifestyle, a sector of the travel market that is more and more attractive. But we will also see winery tourism in Sonoma, the Central Coast and other regions continue to increase too. Wine drinking in America continues to increase and with it the number of aficionados that want to visit winemaking areas. And, in the short term, wine sales seem to be in a post recessionary mode, meaning travel to wine country will increase faster than travel to other regions as the economy recovers.
All this bodes well for GoVine and for its clients.