One of the best aspects of yesterday’s Wine Tourism Conference content were the two-hour industry breakout sessions. The 236 people attending the conference split into these groups: wineries, wine and tourism associations, tour operators, and other wine tourism related businesses.
The industry breakout session for “other” businesses (lodging providers, media, marketing, PR, and other wine tourism related businesses) consisted of a lively discussion moderated by Ray Johnson, Director of Sonoma State University’s Wine Business Institute and Marcy Gordon, of Come for the Wine. The conversation ranged form the challenges facing implementing wine tourism initiatives in their particular business model to the types of collaborations and partnerships that have been most fruitful over the last year.
In the tour operator session, moderated by Reno Walsh of Zephyr Adventures (which organizes active travel tours in wine regions in addition to the conference itself), the group focused on marketing and what is and is not effective in securing customers. Members came away with a long list of ideas for how to improve their individual marketing.
One of the most fascinating sessions was the breakout group of wine and tourism associations, hosted by Donnie Winchell of Ohio Wine. It was amazing just to listen to each person’s brief introduction of their individual wine or tourism region. Ultimately, the group agreed the regions should work together more to grow wine tourism as a whole, which will help each region individually. More on this to come!
Finally, a large group of winery representatives gathered to address the challenges of getting visitors in the cellar door, something that is so important in the sales mix for many wineries. This session was moderated by Michaela Baltasar and Taylor Eason.