Let’s face it, you have had countless visitors in the form of birthdays, weddings, bachelor/bachelorette celebrations, tour groups & more but as a service professional you always want to be on the look-out for ways to perfect your methods. If you're looking for ways to put an extra cherry on top of that sundae and treating yourself to a well-deserved second glass of wine (and by glass I mean bottle), look no further than our ten ways to perfect a wine & beverage tour.
We asked our wine tour partners to share some of the easiest successes they have had in achieving 5-star TripAdvisor reviews, every time. Whether you are new business looking for exposure or a veteran tour operator trying to shake things up, check out our suggestions in case you overlooked some of the following improvements:
Digital Media & Take-Home Infographics
Here’s a quick question: what’s the difference between a PDF and a piece of paper? You guessed it, a PDF doesn’t kill trees. Providing supporting materials to clients both before a tour and after a tour, not to mention during a tour, can create a stronger tour experience. To be clear, pamphlets, brochures, infographics, and other printed materials can be useful but you can avoid the excess weight (and guilt!) by sending relevant information digitally via email or online booking system. We have heard many success stories with references to vineyard history, local wines, growing/harvesting techniques and more.
Customization is key for delivering an optimal experience. Do you currently allow your guests to book tours with a list of compatible premium amenities? We highly recommend up-selling your guests with add-ons such as: go pro rentals, photographers, cross-winery order lists, different grades of food pairings, vehicle upgrades, discounted post-tour gift certificates, discounted tour extensions, discounted pre-tour gift vouchers for souvenirs, and more.
Hop On/ Hop Off Tours
Though more common with craft beer tours, many wine tour operations have begun experimenting with hop-on, hop-off bus tours that allow visitors to partake in an extremely flexible and noncommittal wine tour. The idea is to allow a customer to choose how many pages they want their journey to have, what page they want start and end their adventure on, and have the ability to bail, guilt-free, at any moment in time.
Keep Tour Sizes Small
Personalization has proved to be an integral part of delivering an excellent wine tour. Whether you are expecting a large or small group on any given day, we recommend keeping groups as small as 4-6 per guide. Keeping a 1:6 max ratio is guaranteed to make an experience personable and entice 5-star reviews.
Wheelchair Accessible Transportation & Facilities
This is a no-brainer. Making sure entire families and loved ones can participate in a tour is an important factor. No person should be ineligible to participate with the exception of extremely difficult terrains. Making sure all vehicles are equipped with the appropriate functions may prove expensive but having at least one option will go a long way.
Although much more common today, food pairing has become an important part of complementing tours-de-vin. Whether you are providing a board of charcuterie or fine cheeses, an optimal experience should involve quenching thirst and satisfying hunger. For a bigger challenge, be diverse with your food pairings. Cheese and cured meats are great but what else do you have?
You’d think a personal playlist is guaranteed to impress but assuming that someone prefers a Pinot Gris to a Pinot Noir is a fallacy. Whether you are at a winery, in a tour bus, limousine, vintage car, etc. music can play an important role in making an experience memorable. Be flexible with tunes by asking clients what they want to hear in advance. Whether they are indifferent or have a favorite artist does not matter but knowing that you care does.
Automated TripAdvisor Reviews
On the organizational side, it’s important to automate several administrative tasks like asking participants to leave you a good review. There are many free tools that will allow you to schedule emails on future dates (e.g. Mail Conductor) but an online booking system is the only fully-automated method of sending review requests x number of hours after a tour.
Discounts For Online Booking
Online bookings require less effort, less labor, less time, and minimal investment compared to making yourself available for calling and emailing. By offering 5% discounts to groups willing to reserve via your website, you and/or your team could spend more time planning an experience and expanding the business as opposed to manual administrative work. Just to be clear, communication with customers is paramount but directing some traffic to automated methods could prove viable if certain customers do not speak English well, do not enjoy talking over the phone, want to make a booking at midnight, are younger, etc.
More Drinking (& Spitting)
One of the biggest differences between many wine tours in North America vs in Europe comes down to the number of samples offered at vineyards. Though this may be reflective of smaller batch productions, the French would argue that having enough wine to spit is an important element. A Samaritan would offer 10x the wine for free but a business owner may want to offer an up-sold tour with more samples.