Our friends at a PR Firm, who attend a lot of travel-trend conferences, have shared some new trends in travel. Many of these are pretty exciting opportunities that are custom-made for visitors to wine country. Here are some of the major highlights of recent trends that wineries can use to their advantage when crafting experiences to meet the demands of today’s traveler.
Many travelers stated that they plan to take more weekend trips in 2019. It will be the year of ‘bite-sized travel’ – squeezing in more curated travel itineraries into shorter time frames. Millennials have been reported to be more experiential and they are willing to go farther for shorter lengths of time. This can be a good way to capture this elusive market. We already know that tourists spend long weekends in our areas. If these visitors are looking for more experiences in a compact schedule, we can help them achieve this by partnering with other nearby wineries to schedule a whole day of activities for them. Can we create an ongoing ‘passport’ event that includes other like-minded wineries in our area? A rising tide lifts all boats.
Celebrations of Changes
Celebrating a new job or career milestone, or a birthday or engagement is a great reason to hit the road. What are our guests celebrating? We may need to change how our reservation process works in order to capture this information so that we can be prepared. It is also an important question for how we qualify walk-in guests. Ideally, we could develop a celebration protocol – decorations/candles/food pairing so that all we have to do is go to the freezer and get the box when the happy party arrives.
Traveling with Friends
We may not always be excited to see large groups arrive, but another important trend is traveling with large groups. This trend goes far beyond bachelorette parties. If we treat these guests well, we can create lots of new brand ambassadors in the process, in addition to selling wine and wine clubs. Let’s look at our venue with new eyes – what spaces can we use for larger groups so that their experience with us is one they will enjoy and recommend to friends? Something outside in the vineyard, or perhaps a place in the barrel room, even a tent in the parking area? Be flexible and creative and find a way to make it work, or we will lose these opportunities to someone else.
Many tourists are seeking to augment winery travel with learning something new. Blending seminars, barrel tastings, and food pairings are fairly common in our business, but are there more ways we can help our visitors learn? Let’s keep in mind that many folks are still intimidated by wine and the winemaking process. Also, consider businesses who want to offer team bonding and retreats as a perfect fit for some of these learning experiences. Adult camps are becoming more popular as alternative vacations, and harvest camps are still a novelty. Culinary travel will continue to rise, largely thanks to Instagram, so make those experiences photo-worthy!
It’s a good time to be tucked away off the beaten path. Adventurers will continue to hunt for truly local and authentic experiences to give them bragging rights when they get home. “Insiders” will help travelers live like locals – note the creation of the Harvest Card business in Sonoma County that offers an annual paid membership in exchange for complimentary tastings and discounts on bottle purchases at participating wineries, special hotel rates, and waived corkage fees at exclusive partner restaurants. It could be a good time to expand our concierge services to take advantage of this trend.
Stressed-out travelers are seeking calm and serenity via outdoor experiences. Think about everything you have to offer at your beautiful winery. Sculpture gardens, vineyard tours, meditation walks, dog hikes, and yoga classes among the vines all get folks outside as they seek to reconnect with nature via our unique activities – followed by wine tasting, of course!
Travel season is upon us! Which of these trends will you embrace at your winery?