[Sandra Hess – August 19, 2021 – San Francisco, CA]
With about 65% of US wineries falling into the “small (up to 5000 cases produce annually)” and “very small (up to 2500 cases produced annually)” categories, wine enthusiasts want more intimacy with brands they reinvest with. Over the past four years, we have seen an uptick in the number of instant messages, email requests, and inbound calls to our winery clients across the nation in which a customer is requesting trip planning assistance, recommendations, and VIP services in some cases. With that said, we have helped many winery teams implement new Concierge-Style Services as well as Private Client Services for those qualified customers. Not only is this a solid way to pre-qualify visitors, retain loyalists and set the right tone, it also strengthens hospitality partnerships with neighboring winery teams, drivers, restaurant and hotel staff, as well as adventure companies.
Concierge Services can be a key brand differentiator in this competitive direct-to-consumer winery space. Today’s luxury traveler has over 850 visitor center choices between Napa and Sonoma and another 220 choices in Paso Robles alone. This doesn’t take into consideration the many options available in almost every part of the nation. As our clients are working to keep up with demand, they have found great success with formally offering these types of high-touch hospitality services as both an acquisition and retention tool. Below, I have provided some questions to consider when launching a new Concierge Services Program. Feel free to reach out with questions on both this important program as well as the new Private Client Services Program.
#1 Define Your Ideal Concierge Customers
Before introducing winery concierge services, it is important to understand your audience and identify their top needs. Take time to meet as a team and answer these questions:
- Which current customer segments have been asking for concierge-style service? (Top LTV Customers, Long-Term Customers, First-Time Guests, Executive Assistants, etc.)
- What are the top 3-5 recommendations visitor center guests ask of your hospitality team or member services team?
- Are more first-time guests asking for recommendations when booking reservations online, by phone or personal email? (Y/N) Are concierge services offered at time of booking? (Y/N) Explain:
- Are guests asking more questions about “family-friendly”, “pet-friendly”, “large group friendly” options when building itineraries? (visitor centers, restaurants, hotels, etc.) (Y/N) Explain:
- Who will offer concierge services and when will they concierge department be available? There isn’t a one-size-fits all approach here. For mid-size to large wine brands with seasoned staff, the visitor center host or greeter is often the person who is asked to assistance with concierge-style services. For small and allocation-only brands, the concierge services might be provided by a family member, hospitality manager or winemaker. Being clear about who and when will ensure program success.
#2 Define Your Ideal Suite of Concierge Services
Now, that you have confirmed who your ideal concierge customers are and the type of requests your team is seeing most often, let’s define your suite of concierge services.
- Based on consumer demand, is now the time to introduce concierge-style services (Y/N)? Explain:
- List the type of concierge-style services your hospitality team can offer that would best cater to the needs of your current customers? (Custom itineraries, wine country weekend tasting recommendations, assistant booking VIP/private experiences, scheduling of tours and/or excursions, assistance with booking host and transportation services, private client management services – direct access to private/VIP experiences with winemaking, family, advance level wine educators, etc.)
- Will you need to add phone support, text service, etc. to best manage the concierge services division and offer some of the above? (Y/N) Explain:
#3 Identify your Ideal Hospitality Partnerships
Your hospitality partners become an extension of your hospitality team when introducing concierge services. Take some time to map out who your ideal partners are and why. Do these partners share similar values, customer lists, luxury experiences, etc.? Be sure to answer the questions below when defining your ideal hospitality partnerships:
- Who are your ideal visitor center partners when making tasting recommendations? List by winery name and indicate why next to each. Do they offer complimentary experiences, wine varietals, etc.?
- Who are your ideal restaurant partners when making dining recommendations? List by restaurant name and indicate why next to each. Do you have a large audience of vegans, steak house enthusiasts, luxury restaurant fans (Michelin rated, etc.)?
- Who are your ideal tour operator partners when assisting with trip planning/itinerary building? List by operator name and indicate why next to each. Do you have a large audience of outdoor adventure seekers, mountain bikers, spa-goers, nature seekers, etc.?
- Who are your ideal drivers/personal hosts when assisting with trip planning/itinerary building? List by driver name and indicate why next to each. Does each bring their own book of private clients, relationships with ultra-premium brands, etc.?