2017 Wine Marketing & Tourism Conference Call For Content

The Call for Content and Speakers for the 2017 Wine Marketing & Tourism Conference is now open:

Content Proposal Form

Please keep in mind several things concerning content proposals:

  • The last day to submit a proposal is Monday, March 20
  • All content sessions should be related to wine marketing and/or wine tourism
  • The best sessions provide real-world examples and offer concrete, useful takeaways
  • We already have pre-conference workshops set up covering more than any previous conference.  Each 3 hour session will cover digital marketing, photography & videography, tasting room management, best practices for tour operators, and winery and tourism associations.
  • We will take all proposals, edit as needed based on our experience and prior history of presentations, and present to the WMTC alumni for their vote, March 24 – 31
  • Those sessions that get rated as most interesting will be the ones accepted into the conference agenda
  • We will provide a free registration to all speakers but presenters must pay their own travel and hotel costs

The 2017 Wine Marketing & Tourism Conference will attract approximately 250 high-level attendees from around North America and the world.  This years conference will precede the VERY highly attended Wine Bloggers Conference – November 9-12.  If you and your team are curious to attend BOTH conferences, we have some unique discounts to offer that you will receive once you have completed your WMTC17 registration.

Please considering joining us and register today!

Intensive Workshops at 2017 WMTC

For years now one of the most well-received aspects of the Wine Marketing & Tourism Conference have been the three-hour intensive workshops that take place the day prior to the actual conference. These workshops allow us to focus on a specific subject and audience, provide more in-depth coverage of a subject, and allow time for interaction between the audience and presenters.

In 2017 we have five workshops set for Monday, November 6. Two take place in the morning and are designed to be appropriate for all attendees. Three take place in the afternoon and are specifically targeted to wineries, tour operators, and winery associations / DMOs. Workshops require an additional registration fee of $125 for one or $200 for both morning and afternoon; you need not be registered to the conference to attend the workshops.

For complete details and to register, please see the Workshops page. Brief summaries of the five outstanding workshops are below.

Morning Workshops (8:30 – 11:30 AM): Choose One

Eight Pillars of Digital Marketing: Robyn Scott and Beth Peluse, both of whom work for conference organizer Zephyr Conferences and each of whom has worked for digital marketing agencies in the past, will present Zephyr’s comprehensive “Eight Pillars of Digital Marketing”. The content will be tailored to the wine industry and is applicable both to those relatively new to digital marketing and those more experienced.

Practical Photography and Videography: We all know a photo is worth a thousand words and the future of online communication is video. Yet too many wine industry businesses  are not equipped to take, edit, and promote either photos or videos – and not ready or able to hire a professional to do this for them. Our presenter is Lisa Mattson from Jordan Vineyard & Winery, orchestrator of the Journey of Jordan wine blog that has won awards for its photography and videography.

Afternoon Workshop Options (1:00 – 4:00 PM): Choose One

Tasting Room Management: Tasting rooms are key to selling wine from the “cellar door” and are often the first and only impression of the winery for potential customers. This workshop will cover all aspects of tasting room management, including staffing (hiring, managing, and training), layout, pricing, selling, wine selection and pricing, wine club memberships, non-wine merchandise, setting hours, deciding on whether to require appointments, and more. 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.

Best Practices for Tour Operators: Join a couple dozen of your peers as we discuss best practices in running a tour operator business. While this workshop is designed for those running beer, wine, and food tours, it will be applicable to all tour operators (day tours or vacation tours) and those considering starting a company. We will discuss selecting a niche, identifying your target market, insurance, employees, guides, pricing, selecting tour locations, running great tours, and soliciting feedback. The workshop will be facilitated by Allan Wright, 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).

Winery Associations & DMOs Workshop & Summit: Winery associations and tourism promotion agencies based in wine regions (Destination Management Organizations, Chambers of Commerce, Convention & Visitors Bureaus, etc) work hard year round promoting their region to visitors interested in wine. These associations play a critical role in defining their region, creating awareness, and helping members achieve success. Our presenters will include Ken Fischang, President / CEO of Sonoma County Tourism; Karissa Kruse, President of Sonoma County Winegrowers; and a representative of Sonoma County Vintners to be announced. These three agencies have done a stellar job at promoting wine and wine tourism in Sonoma County, are a model for the country (and the world), and will have lots to impart.

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!

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!

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.

Welcome to Fredericksburg and the Texas Hill Country

Welcome to Fredericksburg and the Texas Hill CountryThe first presentation at the 2016 Wine Marketing & Tourism Conference (after the pre-con Workshops and official welcome) will be a Welcome to Fredericksburg and the Texas Hill Country. By moving the conference to a new wine region each year, those visiting from out of state learn about that local region and including the specific challenges they face and successes they have achieved. In 2016, we are especially looking forward to hearing from the local area as Texas is booming in wine tourism and yet relatively unknown outside the area.

We have a great panel (see below) including a winery owner, grape grower, and tourism agency director. Our moderator is January Wiese, Executive Director of Texas Hill Country Wineries, the association that represents the member wineries of the Texas Hill Country region. As a long-time WMTC attendee and Advisory Board member, January assures us the panel will be highly interesting and educational for the audience, revealing the both the successes and challenges of wine tourism in Texas!

Chris Brundrett, co-founder of William Chris Wines, has established a career in the Hill Country as one of the state’s fastest rising young winegrowers. While earning a horticulture degree from Texas A&M, Chris spent time in the Hill Country, acquiring experience in the winery and the vineyard. He then quickly proceeded to take on head winemaking responsibilities for several wine labels, managing vineyard properties in both the Hill Country and the High Plains. In 2010, he planted the Brundrett Family Estate vineyard with his father Bruce in San Angelo, which will produce winegrapes exclusively for William Chris.

Andy Timmons of Lost Draw Cellars is a 4th generation farmer who grows cotton, peanuts, and wine grapes. He established his first vineyard in 2006 and now owns and manages over 500 acres of grapes in the Texas High Plains AVA. One of the winegrowing pioneers of Terry County, Andy is committed to producing quality Texas grapes on a consistent basis. Working with some of the best wineries in the state, Lost Draw Vineyards has won several awards including gold medals at the San Francisco, Dallas Morning News, and the Pacific Rim International Wine Competition. In 2014, Andy was awarded the T.V. Munson Award from the Texas Wine & Grape Growers Association, which recognizes exemplary contribution to Texas grape growing.

Ernie Loeffler is President and CEO of the Fredericksburg Convention and Visitor Bureau, which markets Fredericksburg and Gillespie County as a premier travel destination on the regional, national and international stages. Fredericksburg has many things to offer visitors, including its fascinating German history, but promoting the local food and wine is a major mission of the organization.
Needless to say, we have an excellent agenda and experts lined up for #WMTC16….get registered today!

New Sister Conference: Beer Marketing & Tourism

BMTC website

Zephyr Conferences is proud to announce our newest conference, the Beer Marketing & Tourism Conference. The conference will take place March 28-30, 2017 in Asheville, North Carolina.

Yes, this is a conference very similar to our Wine Marketing & Tourism Conference. We are now in our sixth year of running the WMTC so the new beer version is a bit later to the scene. But that is as you would expect; beer tourism itself is just now becoming established.

As a member of the wine industry, you are undoubtedly familiar with the raging craft beer industry. Here are some details for you.

  • The craft beer revolution is booming. Craft beer sales by volume in the US were up 12.8% in 2015 on top of 18% growth in 2014.
  • Don’t think the craft beer revolution has peaked. Craft beer represents only 12.2% of the US beer market and it continues to take market share from the big brewers.
  • There are now over 4,400 licensed breweries in the US. More get added almost every single day.
  • With increasing numbers of breweries, competition for tap room visitors and retail shelf space is becoming tougher. It is because of this that beer marketing is now of strategic importance.
  • Beer tourism is just now becoming established, with two dozen vacation tour operators and day beer tour companies in most major US cities.

And here are some interesting things to consider when comparing beer to wine:

  • Breweries are generally not tied to their raw materials and thus can be located anywhere. Every city can have breweries and anywhere can be “beer country”. This is more similar to the “urban winery” model, which is only a small part of the wine industry.
  • Breweries are divided into categories: brewpubs, microbreweries (small), regional craft breweries (a bit bigger), regional breweries (the biggest craft brewers), and large breweries (the big boys). Of these, the first two, which make up the vast majority of breweries, often sell all or nearly all their beer from their own premises. Hence, “beer tourism” and tap room sales are just as important to the beer industry as are wine tourism and tasting room sales to the wine industry.
  • An interesting difference is that brewery tap rooms are set up more like bars, focused on consumption on premises. Yes, many breweries allowing tasting and some sell beer to go (in “growlers”). This comers to wineries where tasting rooms are primarily set up to induce to go purchases rather than on-premise consumption.
  • “Beer clubs” are not yet very established at all (in part because of greater shipping difficulties), as compared to the prominent position of wine clubs in winery marketing and sales

We at Zephyr are already quite involved with beer tourism. We run beer tours with our Taste Vacations tour company and active beer tours with Zephyr Adventures. We ran workshops on beer tourism and beer marketing last November at the Wine Marketing & Tourism Conference in Virginia to test the concept.

We are excited to add this new conference to our Zephyr Conferences schedule. Come join us if you have an interest in cross-pollinating!

Stacie Jacob to Lead Wine Association and DMO Workshop and Summit

We are very pleased to have expert Stacie Jacob lead our scheduled three-hour Winery Association and Tourism Promotion Agency Workshop and Summit.

Stacie JacobStacie has outstanding experience on both the winery association and tourism agency (including Convention & Visitor Bureaus, Destination Management Organizations, etc) side.

  • Served as the first-ever Public Relations Director for the Washington Wine Commission
  • Spent seven years as the Executive Director of the Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance, one of the nation’s leading wine regions
  • Worked as Chief Executive Officer of Visit San Luis Obispo County, the county that includes Paso Robles but also has tourism assets including the Pacific Coast and Hearst Castle
  • Currently runs her own consulting firm, Solterra Strategies, which offers public relations, brand strategy, and marketing services

Stacie is probably one of the few wine industry leaders who has served as a chief executive of both a DMO and a winery association and thus is eminently qualified to run this workshop. The workshop will include real-life best-practice examples in the following areas:

  • Big-picture strategies for associations and DMOs in wine regions to help you decide where you should be headed as an organization
  • Possibilities for establishing significant and sustainable funding including major events and new tax or public-private funding arrangements
  • Ideas for collaborating with key partners including local businesses, other agencies, and even organizations outside the area.
  • Discussion of the nuts and bolts of managing an organization including staffing, premises, working with members, promoting outside the area, and much more.

This workshop is actually a “workshop and summit”. Stacie will be in communication in advance with those people registered to gather ideas, case studies, and best practices. We will also spend the final hour in discussion where all participants will be able to ask questions of and share ideas with their peers.

If you are a leader of a winery association or tourism promotion agency in wine country, this workshop is for you! You need not be registered for the conference to attend.