So Your Winery Tasting Room has Reopened?
6 Hospitality Tips to Practice – Always
It’s been almost 3 months since California's state-issued a SIP (Shelter in Place) order for all winery tasting rooms to close their doors. Now the green light has been turned on for Tasting rooms to reopen with careful care and adherence to the COVID guidelines.
I think many of us would agree that if you placed one ear to the ground, you could almost hear rumblings of the ‘stir crazy’ and those ‘over it’. Although not everyone is indeed comfortable with wandering out again – something is to be said about those that are craving human connection – that have been careful in this marathon of quarantine sessions that deem themselves as ready to re-discover their old haunts.
There is no doubt that the juggling act of ensuring safety protocols for guests while delivering quality hospitality is so daunting that it will definitely take some time to adjust. There is grace for your efforts during this time for the new adaptations of service. However, it will be crucial not to lose focus on the main checkpoints of hospitality.
#1 – Everyone is Welcome . . . Everyone
Read this carefully. The business model in which many (not all but many) wineries and winery tasting rooms have adapted since the inception of the concept was based on 4 familiar community outlets – Restaurants, Bars/Taverns, Hotels, and Hospitals.
The core origin of word HOSPITALITY is derived from the Latin word ‘hospes’ or ‘hostis’, and is the root for the English words - host, hospitality, hospice, hostel and hotel. Which directly points to 3 more associated words within the etymology pointing to the service of whom being “host," "guest," & "stranger."
Not to do a deep dive into ancient history here, but I encourage everyone that works in hospitality to research it. Restaurants, bars, and taverns began as a direct correlation to lodging, hotels, inns, and hostels.
What does this mean then? Well, if you have chosen to work in a guest-facing role within the hospitality industry and you have decided to reopen your world of serving to others – this means that you are giving license to serving everyone always.
But what if our brand is not for everyone? Look – I get that, but I think you can agree that this is not a decision you are able to make. Allow the guest to make that decision for you. There are also ways to help relay your brand info of exclusivity without making people feel dehumanized. If you are unable to do this – explore ways to train yourself to do this or excuse yourself kindly from the hospitality industry until you have learned this skillset or have re-evaluated your business model…or if this fails, call me, I can help you.
#2 – Make them Feel Good
Guests come to you to feel something. . . something good. Deliver to them the reasons why they chose your brand in the first place. Start with making your already loyal guests feel comfortable again. Take a moment to thank them for their loyalty in supporting your brand during the pandemic, whether they attended your virtual wine experiences and zoom calls or placed online orders keeping your revenue alive. After you have thanked them once – thank them again and remind yourself that without them your brand waivers in existence. Whether you do this through email, phone call, or social media messaging, be sure to put their minds at ease that you value their memories there with you and are ready to welcome them back – also a good time to introduce any new guidelines of service without beating them over the head with it.
With new guests – make them feel that they made an amazing choice and reaffirm their decision to choosing your brand in every connection you make with them. Surprise and delight your guests by delivering the unexpected and ensuring you are always ahead of their needs in service.
#3 - Make Them Look Good
You may think this is silly, but trust me. Start complimenting your guests. The moment you do this, you will see your sales increase - I promise. No seriously, find something that you genuinely like/love about them, and let them know. Don’t be fake doing this, and don’t be creepy.
By complimenting your guests, what you are doing is two-fold:
First, you are reaffirming their small decisions in letting them know you notice the small things that they are putting out there (whether it be their style, the way they taste wine, etc.) they are communicating with you who they are.
Secondly, when they receive your compliment, their bio-physiology releases serotonin on a molecular level into the cortex of their brain, where they make emotional and meaningful choices. This includes which products they decide to invest in. Try it… no really, try it.
#4 – Deliver Confidence but not Conceit
Especially now, your guests want to know and feel that they are in secure hands. Part of this deliverable is to present confidently the message your brand can convey. This confidence should be mirrored in both your written language and in person. Yes, your visitors want to be rest assured that you know how to manage your tasting room, your team and the most updated safety procedures; however, they also want to know that you know what your brand philosophy is and need to hear it.
The difference between delivering a message in confidence and being overtly conceited can be easily sniffed out by your new guests and should be avoided. Yes, know your brand strengths but don’t act like you are the only winery that makes wine with uniqueness and diversity.
#5 - Don’t Be Boring
OK so I know we just got finished talking about messaging here but we would be remiss if we didn’t repeat our own mantra to you. Don’t be boring. Please. For all intensive purposes, put yourself into the shoes of your guest. Now think of how many wineries and tasting rooms they will be walking into that day. Now think of how many versions of winemaking procedures they will be hearing. Now think of how many times they will hear ‘handcrafted & family-owned’. Ok. . . got it?
Now tell a different story. Tell the story they cannot read on the back label of your product. Tell the story of the vintage and the drama and struggle behind why working hard to make this product is a tale of blood, sweat and tears. People want humanness not robotics, even within the framework of the stories you tell and how you tell them.
This being said, be sure to rehearse the way you deliver your brand story.
PS – your passion when telling these stories will be contagious.
#6 – Pulse Check Your Ethical Compass
Human ethics should already be something that we all create and inspire from however, sadly – many brands need to just take a moment…conduct a pulse check on your brand…and realign themselves with human interest and a definitive morale code.
Ask yourself. Does my company support mental health? Does my brand offer human diversity? What are the ways we can change, redirect, retune, refine and support those in need? Tone-deaf messaging in this day and age will not be tolerated by many guests that come in through your doors. Be sensitive, be realistic, get creative and become more open to the world around you.
By popping the bubble that surrounds your brand and realigning yourself with the current needs of your community – you will in fact reset your ethical compass and be easily embraced by many. No one person is expecting you to change the entire world with your new initiatives; start small and meaningful with human purpose.