Texas Hospitality: Dinner and Dancing at Luckenbach

 

LuckenbachimagesEach year of the Wine Marketing & Tourism Conference is different in terms of meals and events, depending on our local hosts. In Texas, our local partners dialed up hospitality to a new level.

Two lunches and one dinner were included in the conference price, which is pretty amazing. The lunches were at local wineries Woodrose Winery and Becker Vineyards, which we appreciated very much. But it was the dinner at famous local roadhouse Luckenbach that stole the show.

Luckenbach is a combination of a small town and roadhouse made famous by the Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson song. It has a dance hall, bar, pickers (strings, not grapes) circle, and even a post office.

Our evening at Luckenbach, hosted by the Fredericksburg CVB, included wine tasting, dinner, and dancing. Check out this awesome dinner menu, a combination of local Tex-Mex with the historic German roots of Fredericksburg:

  • Station One: Shrimp wrapped in bacon with asadero cheese and jalapeño sliver, beef and chicken street tacos, Broken Arrow Ranch axis tamales, and Honeybee Farms vegetable quesadilla
  • Station Two: Opa’s bratwurst with sauerkraut, Fredericksburg Farms zwiebelkuchen (German onion tort), Dutchman’s Schnitzel on a Sticket, and pommes frites cones.
  • Station Three: Mini pecan pie tarts, mini black forest tarts, and apfel strudel

Thank you to our local hosts, Visit Fredericksburg, Texas Hill Country Wineries and Go TEXAN!

Be sure to subscribe to the WMTC blog feed to get news. and updated as planning for 2017 gets underway.

Stay connected with WMTC on Facebook and Twitter!

Wine Marketing & Tourism Conference to Return to Sonoma County in 2017

The Wine Marketing & Tourism Conference will return to Sonoma County in 2017, November 6-8 at the Hyatt Vineyard Creek in Santa Rosa, California. The conference will take place immediately prior to the 10th annual Wine Bloggers Conference.

Registration Is Open Now

Next year will be the seventh running of the WMTC. Previous stops were Napa, Sonoma, Oregon, Paso Robles, Virginia, and Texas. We have decided to return to Sonoma County for two main reasons.

Swmtc-no-date-with-signboardsonoma and Napa are, of course, the heart of the North American wine industry and this will make the conference more accessible to the bulk of the wine industry. In addition, 2017 marks the 10th year anniversary of the Wine Bloggers Conference, which will take place November 9 – 12 in the same hotel. This will allow wine industry participants from across the country to schedule one trip to participate in both conferences.

Pricing for WMTC17

Pricing for the Wine Marketing & Tourism Conference will again be based on when you register:

$325 through December 31, 2016
$350 through March 31, 2017
$375 through June 30, 2017
$400 through September 30, 2017
$425 after September 30, 2017

As always, workshops (already set) and optional excursions (to be set) are extra. Citizen Bloggers and Media can receive a 50% discount and groups of three or more attendees from the same company/organization using a company email address can request a code from us for a $50 discount per person. Plus (see below) there are discounts if you register for both WBC and WMTC.

Attending Both the WMTC and WBC

The Wine Bloggers Conference is not just for bloggers. The content is appropriate for everyone and the connections you make as an industry member can be invaluable. Here are two ways you can participate in the Wine Bloggers Conference:

  • Attend both the WMTC and WBC. If you register at the full (non-blogger) industry price for both the Wine Bloggers Conference and the WMTC, you can receive a $75 discount off both conferences. Just contact us for the code. (Not combinable with other discounts.)
  • You can choose to sponsor the Wine Bloggers Conference. Sponsorships start at $500 for Live Wine Blogging (the premier event at the conference) or $2,000 to sponsor the Thursday opening Reception & Expo. So even if you can’t attend the entire WBC, you can stay through Thursday to pour your wines and present your information to all WBC attendees.

We hope you can join us in 2017. Please consider registering today!

Thank You TEXAS!

wmtc16

When Zephyr Conferences sat down in Virginia with our future #WMTC16 conference hosts, we knew this coming year would be fantastic.  Each step of the way to planning the 2016 Wine Marketing & Tourism Conference, our wonderful Texas hosts have been engaged and passionate about sharing the Texas Hill Country with wine industry professionals from across the country.  Through the entire conference, Fredericksburg, Texas has glowed with charm, friendly people and fantastically impressive wines.  #WMTC16 attendees have been given a glimpse into the Texas spirit and have had loads of fun experiencing Texas wines.  Thank you to our hosts and sponsors; Visit Fredericksburg, GO TEXAN and Texas Hill Country Wineries who have shown us such incredible Texas hospitality.

Texas Hill Country has been amazing and as we searched for a new location for 2017, WMTC is excited to head to Santa Rosa in 2017!  We will be hosting a unique format for WMTC17 just before the 2017 Wine Bloggers Conference.  For those looking for more content or to connect with dedicated wine writers, we hope you consider joining us for both events.  More details to some soon and please stay up to date by following the blog feed here.

See you in 2017 as #WBC17 already has a record attendance and we expect to sell out for both wine events.

Cheers to TEXAS and a great 2016 event and see you next year!

WMTC16 Workshop and Wine Expo Recap

A huge thank you to our #WMTC16 2016 sponsors!

wmtc16-projection

Looking back on the pre-conference workshops and wine expo, the day was a huge success offering content for attendees who received in-depth information on social media and online advertising targeted for the wine industry as well as tasting room management, best practices for tour operators and a winery associations summit.  To see what sessions were offered during the workshops this year, read the descriptions and their associated blog posts here.

Following the workshops, the 2016 Wine Tourism Expo did not disappoint with a heavily attended wine party celebrating wines from across the country.  Wine was poured and presented to attendees from emerging wine regions and, of course, wines produced locally in the Texas Hill Country.  After networking and making some new friends, many attendees were whisked off the William Chris Vineyards for a private wine dinner and winery tour.

Today marks the first official day of #WMTC16 beginning at 9am with Bryan Daniel from the Economic Development and Tourism Division of the Texas Governor’s Office.  This morning, WMTC16 content will continue to focus on wine and tourism progression in Fredericksburg, Texas and the beautiful Texas Hill Country.  Attendees will have the opportunity to hear from principal players in the wine tourism development in the area and learn more about winery development and production in Texas.  Following an in-depth introduction to Texas wines will be a panel of wine writers discussing relationships with wineries, wine tour operators and destination tourism agencies working as influencers in the wine industry across the country.  Attendees are all invited to Woodrose Winery for a wine lunch excursion which will be a real treat.

As we continue into day 1, be sure follow along with the agenda for the day and stay tuned with all things #WMTC16 on Twitter!

 

WMTC17 Nearly Sold Out

The 2017 Wine Marketing & Tourism Conference has 195 registered attendees and is nearly sold out!sold-out

In fact, the two included lunches and the Wednesday dinner have already reached capacity. Therefore, the $395  “all-access” tickets we have been selling are no longer available.

Instead, here are two options for you if you wish to still join the conference:

Those registering for the conference now will still have the option on the registration form to register for the workshops, Monday and Friday wine excursions, and Tuesday and Thursday optional dinners. Remember those of you already registered for the conference can also separately register for these additional meals and excursions.

Representation from Across North America at the WMTC

wmtc-perspectivesOne of the benefits of moving the Wine Marketing & Tourism Conference each year is that it makes it more easily attended by the local wine and tourism industries. This year we will have big representation from Texas.

Yet the WMTC attracts attendees from throughout North America every year. At this point, we already have registrations from 23 different US states and Canadian provinces.

One advantage to this wide representation is learning about the many booming wine regions in North America, often due to local sales and visitation. This year, we have a special session titled Perspectives on Wine Tourism from Emerging Regions with these speakers:

  • Lorri Hathaway, Michigan
  • Chris Goblet, New Mexico
  • Miki Finnin, Oklahoma
  • Aaron Liersemann, Mt. Hood Territory, Oregon
  • Nicholas Wilson, British Columbia
  • Jess Koehler, Ramona Valley, California
  • Cheryl Smith, Georgia
  • Gillian Mainguy, Nova Scotia
  • Rebecca Gushen, Maryland
  • Kristin Ballard, Nebraska
  • Devon Perry, South Jersey

When before have you ever had a chance to learn about the wine industry in all these regions, much less all at one time?

Another advantage is getting to taste wines from a large number of locations. In 2016, our Expo will include wines from these states:

  • California
  • Colorado
  • Maryland
  • Michigan
  • New Jersey
  • Oregon
  • Texas
  • Washington

If you represent a wine region not represented in the above list, please register for the conference today!

Tasting Room Management with the Pros

tasting-room-managmenetOn Tuesday, November 8th the pre-conference workshops will kick off!  The 2015 workshops were very well received and this year the workshop sessions were designed to go even more in-depth based on feedback from last year’s attendees.
The morning workshop will focus solely on digital marketing including social media and online advertising for wineries and wine destinations.  The afternoon workshop will feature 3 choices for attendees:
  • Tasting Room Management – read below!
  • Best Practices for Tour Operators – see blog post here
  • Winery Association & Tourism Agency Workshop & Summit – see blog post here

We hope you will join us for both the morning and one of the afternoon sessions!

Tasting Room Management Workshop

This year’s tasting room management workshop is set up a bit differently.  Attendees will learn best practices for leveraging an ideal blend of technology and processes to convert first-time visitors into loyal customers and club members. A “tasting room management checklist” will be provided with five improvements that can be implemented the very next day. The workshop will be led by Sandra Hess, the founder of DTC Wine Workshops, which supports wineries of all sizes in the areas of e-commerce, CRM, DTC Strategic Planning, and Training Services. Assisting Sandra will be tasting room pros Jesse Barter, General Manager of 4.0 Cellars; Anthony Harvell, Director of Sales and Operations for William Chris Wines; and Sabrina Houser, owner of Dry Comal Creek Vineyards.
We got a chance to ask Sandra a few questions about what attendees can expect to take away from her workshop:
Can you paint us a picture of what a successful tasting room should look like?

A successful tasting room is filled with engaged customers, club members and first-time visitors enjoying a variety of tasting experiences. Consumer demand is shaping the way wineries throughout the nation are updating their tasting options. Millennials are showing a great interest in wine exploration and want more education and high-impact experiences when visiting wineries. Loyal club members and long-term customers expect to be treated like VIP’s when visiting the tasting room and in many cases are looking to make an advance reservation or enjoy a club member lounge space. The key ingredients to managing a successful tasting room is having the right people and systems in place. In the Tasting Room Management workshop at the Wine Marketing & Tourism Conference on November 8th, the top five tools for managing a successful tasting rooms and growing direct wine sales will be revealed.

Can you tell us a few mistakes that wineries make in setting up what they perceive as a good tasting room environment?


While creating a sense of demand is great for selling more wine, tasting room managers who aren’t mindful of managing guest experiences will lose out on repeat business. Most of us have been in a crowded tasting room where it is difficult to event get up to the tasting bar let alone get our hands on the first pour. As direct to consumer wine sales now represents over $2 billion in wines shipped and consumers want more from their visits to tasting rooms, it is essential for tasting room managers to map out guest experiences and have a solid plan in place. To maximize use of space and ensure that both first time visitors and repeat customers are welcomed properly and treated with care, the proper mix of staffing and tasting spaces need to be in place. More will be revealed around the top mistakes to avoid in our workshop session. 

When looking at smaller wineries, what is the most important factor they should be investing in when developing a plan for setting up their cellar door sales?

Smaller wineries have the opportunity to have meaningful conversations with tasting room visitors that can lead to long-term and loyal customers relationships. The most important factor in building a successful direct to consumer sales division is to listen to customer feedback and match tasting experiences and events that appeal to the interests of most. Training the tasting room staff to first offer excellent hospitality and the wine experiences will ensure that customers keep coming back. Documenting key data through the POS and CRM systems doesn’t need to be cumbersome but is critical in staying connected to repeat customers and club members. We will be sharing case studies around how small wineries are leveraging the right tools to grow direct sales in this hands-on workshop session.
Sandra HessSandra Hess is the founder of DTC Wine Workshops, which supports wineries of all sizes in the areas of e-commerce, CRM, DTC Strategic Planning, and Training Services to grow direct to consumer wine sales and retain loyal customers. Prior to joining the wine industry, Sandra served small to mid-sized businesses as well as global corporations in the areas of CRM software, website design, online marketing, public relations, compliance management and workflow automation solutions.
  We have great attendance numbers already for #WMTC16 and look forward to seeing many exciting wineries, DMO’s, tourism agencies, tour operators and wine writers in Texas this coming November!  Have you registered yet?

Wine Country Videos Done the Right Way

wine-country-videoTelling your wine and wine destination stories with video will instantly delight, educate, entertain and capture the heart of your fans and followers.  Additionally, well executed video will deliver tourism opportunities by allowing travelers and wine lovers from around the world to see and follow your flavor in regards to your wines and your wine region.
On Wednesday, November 9th, #WMTC16 offers a session titled, Wine Country Videos: Learn what it takes to make an engaging video and how it can help define your brand and bring you more visitors. We’ll discuss everything from concept development to production to distribution.
Filmmaker Dina Mande from Juice Media will help guide you through the process of choosing when, where and how to create successful video content to engage your viewers, boost your social views and promote your brand.
Juice Media is a fantastic resource for the Wine Marketing & Tourism Conference and Dina, being an experienced producer and presenter will be prepared to share some extremely valuable tips for wineries and wine destinations to get off the ground with wine country video production.
dina-on-white
Dina Mande is a multidimensional director, editor and producer who lives to discover energetic visual stories that connect heart and mind. Mande has filmed interesting people, fantastic places, lush vineyards, and worked with leading wine brands and regions including The California Wine Institute, Napa Valley Vintners, Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance, Silver Oak Cellars and J. Lohr Vineyards and Wine

As founder of Juice Media in Paso Robles, Mande has continued to expand her horizons, directing over 500 videos since 2010, winning 19 Addy Awards, a Telly award, and four top Wine Spectator Video Awards. She’s the director and co-creator behind the popular viral web series “Paso Wine Man,” which has become a cult phenomenon within the wine world.  With an unwavering love for telling bold, unforgettable stories, Mande continues to chase down inspiration, camera first.

 Have you registered for WMTC16 yet?  Pricing increases October 1st so reserve your spot at the early pricing today!

Learn How To Create Great Events to Bring in Big Numbers at WMTC16

creating-engaging-activities-events

Creating Engaging Activities & Events: Events are one of the major drivers of visitors to wineries and to wine country.  Expert Beth Costa from Wine Road will be presenting to attendees about creating interesting themes, executing effective planning, ensuring financial success, and what works and more importantly what does NOT work when designing wine country events.

Beth Costa is the Executive Director of Wine Road, an association of 197 wineries and 54 lodgings in the Alexander, Dry Creek, and Russian River Valleys of Northern Sonoma County. Wine Road is famous for its many events, including three large annual celebrations including many of the area winery. Beth previously worked for Kendall-Jackson Wine Estates as the Tasting Room manager of multiple properties. WMTC asked Beth Costa to tell us a little more about herself and her presentation details to give some insight.

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“I have been living and learning how to manage large industry wide and winery events for the past 16 years.  My, how times have changed!  Sixteen years ago it was work to simply get the word out that you were hosting an event. Printing stacks of postcards, collecting mailing addresses, lots of busy work.

We no longer see a need to print and mail postcards; it’s easy to get the word out. Now the issue is how to price an event so the right amount of people attend and buy wine. You need to create an event where the attendees make connections with the winery or wineries so they want to come back and support those wineries in the future.

I imagine every speaker at the Wine Marketing & Tourism Conference will touch upon on how today’s consumer wants an “experience” not just another belly-up-to-the-bar tasting.  This is true for every winery event. As an association representing 200 wineries the challenge for us is creating experiences that work for so many players.

In Sonoma County, California we are also in the midst of a heated debate between residents, wineries and the county planning department.  Issues on the table are how many events are too many, along with how to better manage the flow and the concentration in rural areas.  If this debate is not currently happening in your neck of the woods…believe me, it will. 

In this session I will share what we have learned during this wild and crazy year of celebrating our 40th Anniversary of Wine Road, with a different event every month. What were we thinking??!?

This was a year of learning and I look forward to sharing my experiences, successes, and sometimes failures with this year’s Wine Marketing & Tourism Conference attendees.”

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Interested in improving your event planning and execution?  Register for WMTC here.

Tour Operator Best Practices in the Wine, Beer, and Food Industries

miami-culinary-toursDid you know there are at least 235 wine tour companies in the United States? And at least 400 worldwide?

Have you noticed that every major US city now has both a beer tour company and a food tour company taking locals and visitors alike on scrumptious tours of area breweries and restaurants?

Food and drink tourism is not new but the prevalence of tour companies has expanded greatly in recent years as the food and beer worlds have caught up with what has been standard practice in wine regions for years. It is now possible to visit most any major city to take a day culinary tour or to spend your vacation time and dollars visiting the world’s best regions for beer, wine, and food.

From 1:00 – 4:00 PM on Tuesday, November 8th we are pleased to present a Pre-Conference Workshop on Tour Operator Best Practices. If you are running a food or drink tour business or interested to start one, this is an event you do not want to miss.

Topics to be covered include:

  • Selecting a niche
  • Identifying your target market
  • Insurance
  • Employees and Guides
  • Pricing
  • Selecting tour locations
  • Running great tours
  • Marketing
  • Soliciting feedback

This workshop is more than just a presentation. Everyone in the room will likely have information to contribute and this will be as much round table discussion as presentation. Nevertheless, we have three great presenters:

  • Allan Wright (me), who has an MBA in Entrepreneurial Management from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and has 19 years experience operating two tour companies (Zephyr Adventures and Taste Vacations)
  • Miguel Lecuona, who operates a Texas wine industry consulting business and drew up the tour operator agreements for the popular Wine Road 290
  • Andy Potter, owner and operator of Austin Eats Food Tours who is also speaking at this year’s Global Food Tour Owners Conference

If you are a food or drink tour operator, eager to start one, or interested to learn more about this for your region, please join us! Please note there is an extra cost for the workshop of $125 and you need not be registered for the conference to attend.

Photo courtesy of Miami Culinary Tours.