As we the Wine Tourism Conference organizers set up content for the November 16-17 conference, one fact we have noticed is there are very few hard statistics on wine tourism. That situation has improved somewhat with the publishing of results of a wine tourism survey done by the Great Wine Capitals organization.
The survey was conducted across the eight international markets of the network and included answers from 454 wineries. If you are at all interested in wine tourism (as you must be or you would not be on this website), it is worth reading the survey. Here are a few items that stuck out with us:
The report sites Tourism Offices as the most prolific form of promoting wine tourism services but also says wineries consider this promotion not very effective. More effective is the use of tour operators and travel agencies – which from our experience is generally more entrenched in other areas of the world than in the US – but even this form is only considered effective by 28% of respondents.
Clearly, the promotion of wine tourism is not working well for wineries.
Despite this, wineries state that on average 19.5% of their income comes directly from wine tourism. In addition, 78% of income comes from wine sales (one might expect this to be even higher) but direct sales at the winery is the best outlet for these wine sales at 32%. This is somewhat misleading as combining sales at wine shops (17%), supermarkets (16%), specialized shops (8%), convenience stores (3%), and other stores (1%) produces an overall impact of 44% of wine sales at retail. Still, clearly wine tourism is very important to overall revenues and to sales of wine.
68% of winery respondents said they considered their wine tourism activities “financially viable”, which is interesting in that 32% apparently spend more money on wine tourism (fancy new tasting rooms, employees, etc) than they receive back. The report states every winery respondent in Napa considers tourism financially viable while many in Mendoza and Florence do not – there is clearly disparity across regions in what is working and what is not.
The report does not give much of a nod to internet marketing, stating only in the New World (Napa, Mendoza, and Cape Town) is “social networking, mailing, and newsletters” used by wineries. This is sort of amazing in that e-newsletters, websites, and social media marketing are quite common in the US.
Overall, 91% of winery respondents think wine tourism is useful in helping wineries survive during times of economic crisis. And the maxim in business is always to continue to invest in marketing (in this case in wine tourism) during a downturn so one can succeed even more when an economy improves.