As the 2nd Annual Wine Tourism Conference wrapped up many attendees were enthusiastic about the connections they made with peers and what the two-day event revealed about the state of wine tourism. In addition to the networking opportunities the conference gives focus on the latest developments in the industry as well as the challenges and trends.
Chris Cutler from Swanson Vineyards in St. Helena, California, was pleased with the content. “This was my first WTC, so did not know what to expect. I felt like the presentations were very thoughtful, informative, and meant to add real value to my experience,” said Cutler.
Both first time attendees and conference veterans agreed that collaborations and partnerships continue to be the lifeblood of successful wine tourism campaigns. And it is critical that all stakeholders’ work together to promote events and keep each other informed throughout the year.
The primary challenges cited were not having the budget or support from the leaders in local and state governments to make wine tourism a priority and the need to educate local city councils on the revenue created by in market dollars spent on wine tourism.
A leading trend in many markets was the combination of wine and activity. From cooking classes to kayaking, developing programs that reach customers through their interests and passions is one of the most effective ways to create an experience that connects people to a brand or region and converts visitors into consumers after a trip.
Social media continues to be an important part of the marketing mix for wine tourism and many attendees noted their biggest challenges were managing the growth of social media and the need to have guidelines in place to handle both negative and positive feedback on user generated on comment sites such as Trip Advisor and Yelp.
Looking towards the future, the consensus was that the future for wine tourism looks bright, and that mobile applications and third party reviews will be the key drivers as more wine tourists depend on their hand–held devices for food, wine, and lodging recommendations.
Author: Marcy Gordon
Photo Credit: Michael Wright Studio