Wine tourism: What is the situation and, given the COVID-19 situation, what can be done to save the summer season?

 

Given the economic crisis due to COVID-19, Terre de Vins brought together wine tourism companies and partners of the Wine Tourism Trophies. Here, they present a situation report and talk about the future of their sector.

Today, wine tourism is a major challenge for Gironde, the biggest French département in terms of vineyard land use. But how can wine tourism companies tackle this pandemic and leverage the situation to take the sector to the next level? Brigitte Bloch, Pierre Jean Romatet, Nicolas Manfredini and Château Lamothe-Bergeron debated the question..

Wine tourism: securing and reassuring in order to save the summer season

For chateaux organizing wine tours, the period from April to late August remains decisive. Since the vineyard estates were allowed to reopen, Nicolas Manfredini has noticed an explosion in last minute bookings on his platform, Winalist. Created in 2017, this platform enables customers to book vineyard experiences in Italy and in France. The idea behind this website is to promote the experiences offered by Terre de Vins. This gives wine professionals greater exposure, simplifies tour bookings and reassures visitors looking for activities that suit their needs

Given new consumption methods and the French government’s health measures, adaptability has become essential. In addition to its group tours, the ‘A la Française’ agency now offers self-guided cycle and walking tours. Château Lamothe-Bergeron has taken the same approach by switching some of its tasting tours to private booking only.

 

Wine tourists: winning the loyalty of a new client base

For professionals in the wine sector, the goal is to reconnect with their French client base and adapt to new and emerging needs. While 65% of wine tourists are French, as Brigitte Bloch reminds us, the idea is to come up with innovative packages, with the safety of guests in mind, to attract a target audience that has high standards.

Château Lamothe-Bergeron is focusing on education and ease of access. Tours and tastings have been reconfigured, and a self-guided tour and free activities involving wine and its history have been introduced to entertain visitors of all ages. The founder of A la Française, Pierre Jean Romatet, has also decided to focus on attracting families by offering some packages free of charge for children under 16 years of age.

The main challenge for all wine tourism companies remains customer retention. In 10 years, the proportion of return visitors to a chateau has not risen. Creating customized and genuine tours seems to be an ideal combination for catering to these last minute situations, as Brigitte Bloch explains. The idea is to offer discounted prices and special offers so visitors stay longer and explore the region.

Given this exceptional situation, where all professionals in this sector must adapt, a mutual assistance movement has emerged and combines complementarity with community. While this pandemic has delayed the tourist season, it has enabled vineyard estates to seize new opportunities and reconnect with their local client base.

And lastly, the simplest things are often the best.

Vatel Bordeaux & BIWSA have been partners of the Wine Tourism Trophies since the award’s creation two years ago.

Margaux BRIAND – Promotion & Communication Department Intern