In a survey of wine tour operators located throughout the world, responses indicated they expect a 21.4% increase in customers served in 2014. 70 tour operators from 12 separate countries took part in the survey conducted December 30 – January 3 by Zephyr Adventures, organizers of the annual Wine Tourism Conference and Wine Tourism Day.
In fact, all but one operator predicted an increase in the number of customers, indicating the optimism for growth in organized wine tours is pervasive.
At the same time, when asked “what is the biggest challenge you face as a wine tour operator?”, 56% responded “Finding Customers”. One anonymous respondent explained “My sole concern lies in marketing, in finding the proper clients who have the time, interest and money to participate.”
The world of wine tour operators is diverse. Zephyr Adventures currently has a list of 280 wine tour operators around the world on the Wine Tourism Conference website broken into the sub-groups Wine Tour Vacations, Day Tours, Custom Wine Travel, and Wine Area Transport. The tour operators on the list are located in 20 countries and 26 US states.
Other tidbits from the survey include:
- When asked to label their customers’ wine knowledge, tour operators say 30% are “oenophiles”, 48% are “wine fans”, and 22% are “novices”.
- Most wine tour customers travel as a couple or with friends; there are slightly more females than males; and the bulk of participants’ ages is spread equally among the 30s, 40s, and 50s.
- The average wine tour company was founded in 2006, meaning it is entering its eight year of doing business.
- 86% of wine tour companies are owner operated and 54% have no full-time employees.
- The size of wine tour operators ranges dramatically, from a few per year on high-end personalized tours to over 50,000 customers taken on day tours or simply winery transport services.
- Vacation Tour Operators cite “Location” and “Quality of Wineries” as the two most important factors on how their customers choose a tour.
- The average group size of wine tour vacations is only seven-eight persons and 85% of these operators will take a group consisting of only one or two people.
55% of respondents indicated an interest to attend the 2014 Wine Tourism Conference, so consider reserving your spot today to meet these front line advocates of wine tourism!
Full Disclosure: Zephyr Adventures runs wine, beer, and food tours around the world in addition to organizing the Wine Tourism Conference, Wine Tourism Day, and Wine Bloggers Conference.
Eric Miller says
My company is not included on your list of tour companies, even though I was at your convention in Portland last November. I look forward to being added to your list. I market myself as ‘Eastern Washington Wine Tours with Wine Professionals’ as I have a B.S. degree in Global Wine Studies from Central Washington University. I also work as Director of Marketing for Ginkgo Forest Winery of Mattawa Washington. My basic business model is to offer ‘Join-In’ tours on a re-purposed airport shuttle bus, weekends from the Yakima Visitors Center. People like the comfort of the walk on bus and good visibility. Wine tourist may join in to a public tour as individuals, couples, or small groups, buying tickets by the seat. The tours are 5 hours long and cost $65 per person. I also offer charter tours year round.
I am in expansion mode now and will be adding a similar service to the Tri-Cities (Kennewick) Visitors center, and an additional larger bus for convention attendee outings, larger charters, and corporate entertainment.
Eric, thanks for the heads up. I have added you to the list! Good luck with the expansion.
We are glad you appreciate the news. The portion on the blog is the portion we release publicly. The full results will be released to those tour companies that participated in the survey. If you didn’t this year, Leslie, we’ll do it again next year!
Leslie Frelow says
This is great and interesting news!!! It is wonderful to see that the market is growing internationally. Will you post or email the final results to your membership?