Blog, newsletters, social media, reviews portals, local searches, OTA: the many forms of online wine grapevine that creates an image and turnover
The virtual wine grapevine is the major instrument for the growth of wine tourism. Up until 2013 it was a human chain mouth to ear, today the viral action that takes place on the web among wine lovers who publish images of their visit and comment the experience, wine bloggers who write posts that then get shared … A procedure that must be cared for and fed and in so doing you create a community with whom there is a daily dialogue. One of the most efficient instruments for this scope is the creation of a newsletter to be sent via internet every 15 days always the same day and time) to those who have visited the winery or who have made contact through the web site. It should contain offers reserved for faithful clients (events, special releases) ..the next few appointments and some news. The client becomes a friend –follower and is regularly updated with what is happening on the estate, so as to become aware of the daily goings on. The newsletter is also useful to sell courses, tastings, shopping to a particularly attentive and faithful clientele.
Obviously the mother of all news is the blog or the news section in the web site. Many wineries have a blog but only Marilena Barbera, of the Sicilian Barbera wineries has been able to get into the first positions in the international ratings as wine blogger. Each producer has their own style. There are those like myself who write about everything that makes me curious even out of the estate and then there are those who rigorously write only about their own wines and tourism proposals. All techniques are right if they bring visibility and clients.
Today word of mouth is online and especially on the large portals for reviews, the most important of which is TripAdvisor. Wineries are in the section called Activities and you own page must be carefully checked adding images and answering the reviews.
Unfortunately the important appellations attract those who want to seem experts and consequently they express criticism thanks mainly to incompetence so it is very important to answer kindly and carefully. At the same time it is very important to ask satisfied customers to write a review by giving them a TripAdvisor card.
Among the portals that publish reviews there are also those for georeferencing such as Google Maps. To be present and with good reviews on these instruments has an enormous importance because more than 50% of individual tourists seek the winery to be visited using the car GPS of with their phone when they are already in the wine region and they decide depending on what they read. For this reason it is necessary to signal and have signalled ones winery in the local search portals.
The wineries that have accommodation facilities often have an online booking service which allows guests to book and the estate to update in real-time their bookings, to send the police the info regarding guests, and to keep the accounting. This is a reduced tourism version of e-commerce. Few wineries have a similar service for booking tours and tastings, others still use email and telephone.
Lets remain for a second on the subject to speak of OTA – Expedia, Booking, Trivago …- the wineries that have contacts with one or more of these colossuses often see their virtual image “squeezed”, and in searching for the winery name one sees how the large travel agencies online “thieve” the first position on Google. To compete with the ability of these large companies ‘s indexing ability of these giants or to compete with their prices, is impossible, but is on the other hand advisable to have a more complete and captivating and maybe offer some small extra to those guests who book directly . The agencies who sell winery tours also “thieve” visibility from wineries as do the societies who sell entertainment and tem building tied to wine and the schools on wine for tourists…. Each day it is more and more difficult to get visibility and that is why it is very risky to postpone an economic and organizational investment in this sector because in the future, the way to get results will always be more complicated and tiring. Another mistake is to consider the activity of online article marketing an alternative to the work done by a traditional press office. Both are necessary and strengthen each other.
To learn from those who are really clever I suggest looking at the winners of the Wine Blog Awards and the Wine tourism awards by Drinks business and the ratings regarding web communication by WineNews.