I was listening to the radio, a while ago, and happened upon an interview with Chip Conley, who started the Joie de Vivre hotels. While I was not familiar with him, I have stayed in one or two of his hotels and enjoyed my stay. I was impressed with the attention paid to the guests’ well being and satisfaction.
As relationship building is as important in the wine industry as it is in the hotel business, I was interested in what he had to say. One of the things Mr. Conley said was:
“Disappointment is the result of badly managed expectations.”
In the wine industry there is a lot of talk about the (capital E) Experience and how important it is to provide a good experience. However, it has been my observation that tasting room staff spends very little time determining the expectations of the visitors to their tasting rooms. Hospitality employees have told me, on more than one occasion, that all visitors come to their winery to be educated. I certainly agree that some are looking for education about wine, winemaking and grape growing, though others are looking for different things: to be entertained, for connection, for fun. Or perhaps they decided to stop at your winery because they had been in the car too long and needed to stretch their legs.
People’s expectations are not always realistic, but they still believe that they have the right to have their expectations met. Our job is to find out what their expectations are, while visiting the winery, and to meet or exceed those expectations. If we do that, we will make more friends for the winery and sell more wine. So, before we start talking about the wine, let’s find out what our people expect from their visit to the winery.
Remember: it’s not all about the wine.