How not to do wine hospitality: 5 common mistakes when welcoming guests to your winery

Jun 24, 2022

The latest reports all say the same thing: wine tourism in Italy continues to enjoy significant growth. Tourism related to Food & Wine has grown significantly in the last four years, increasing the volume of travelers interested exclusively in food and wine tourism from 21% to 55%. But how can companies differentiate themselves from their competitors and what are the common mistakes that detract from visitor experience? To help you create the best possible experience for your guests, we’ve compiled a list of  5 common mistakes when welcoming guests to your winery, taking into account the changes in wine tourism in Italy in recent years and current trends in experience-led tourism.

1- Treating all wine tourists the same

The COVID-19 pandemic, the resulting new digital opening and new lifestyles have led to a fundamental change in the target. As well as the wine expert, today the casual tourist, the student, the opinion leader, the lover of luxury and the wine enthusiast are just as likely to pay a visit to a vinery. The data of the XVIII Report on Wine tourism, presented at Vinitaly2022, offer us to outline an identikit of the typical wine tourist: under 35, with a high level of education and an above average income, someone who loves direct experiences, is digital savvy and prefers to be outdoors. The typical wine tourist is also international and increasingly feminine.

On the other hand, it is also important to keep in mind that each wine tourist comes to the cellar with different objectives, knowledge and expectations. Only by beginning the visit with the right questions can we understand the particular needs and motivations of each and every wine tourist and organize an experience that truly exceeds their expectations.

2- Presenting your experiences in a fragmented and confusing way

As we saw from the identikit of the average wine tourist: the new visitors are digital savvy. The proportion of tourists who seek information online about hospitality experiences and expect to find comprehensive and understandable content is constantly growing. Among the essential information: opening hours, the ability to book online and the full list of experiences on offer must be in the foreground.

Too many wineries still find themselves unprepared, both in relation to their online presence and the competence of their staff on the ground. In order to develop attractive  experiences in the field of wine tourism, commercial and marketing services, as well as foreign language competencies are essential. However, let’s not forget that it is equally essential to acquire and cultivate appropriate digital and communication skills of the reception team.


3- Limiting your experiences to a particular season

Just 8% of Italian wineries open their doors all year round. With current trends in the world of work, which are increasingly oriented towards flexible hours and short holidays spread throughout the year, it is necessary for wineries to study tourism trends to understand how best to cover all periods of the year, adapting the range of experiences to the season and to what the territory can offer.

4- Offering a stale experience

Tastings, direct sales and guided tours still represent the cornerstones of wine tourism hospitality today. Nevertheless, the research shows that the typical guided tour is no longer enough. It is therefore necessary to expand the range of experiences on offer, without being afraid to experiment. Some examples? Involvement in the preparation of typical products, experiences in the vineyard, trekking, excursions to nearby art centers, cooking classes and wellness activities. Some vineyards even offer the opportunity to be an oenologist for a day, during which the guest produces his own wine, bottles it and takes home a unique souvenir of the experience.


5- Taking reception staff for granted

It’s true that the work of a hospitality manager can be repetitive. At the same time, creating tailor-made experiences for each individual visitor can help the hospitality manager to remain motivated. Wine tourists are certainly interested in the history and culture of the place and the winery, but their first point of contact, the person who welcomes them, can still make or break the experience. The ability of reception staff to tell a story and create a connection with visitors could be your competitive advantage over other companies that offer a similar range of experiences.

Final thoughts

So, we’ve given you a list of five mistakes to avoid when welcoming wine tourists to your winery. But the challenge doesn’t end there. Not only are there many other aspects to explore, but the trends in the sector and the habits of the visitor are constantly evolving. In short, to make your cellar experiences unique and satisfying, it is essential to stay up to date with the latest trends in the industry and demands of the traveller. With that in mind, here’s a quick suggestion: keep an eye on our blog!