The Elephant in the Tasting Room: Collecting Contact Data 

Elephant in a room

Imagine this – you start your workday by looking at the first table reserved. “Ok – John Doe is coming in with 3 other people.” So, you look up John Doe in your system. Not only do you see his email address, but you see his wife’s name is Jane and last time he visited, your coworker noted that he brought a dog named Skip. So, you find the dog bowl and write “Welcome John & Friends” on a reservation tent. A group of four arrive, clearly 2 couples, along with a dog. As they approach the door you say “Welcome, you must be John?” John’s friends are impressed, which makes John feel cool. You seat them and give them a splash of wine (and the dog some water). The tasting goes very well – they clearly had a great time and they purchased cases of wine. John and Jane joined the wine club and now you have their friends on the mailing list too. The cycle continues…now imagine how much different this experience would have been if you had no background information to start with.

Collecting contact data – for someone out of practice, it can feel like that pushy part of your job that ruins a great tasting at the end, but we are here to assure you it is not.

Here are 3 reasons why collecting contact data is so important.

  • Our customers WANT to hear from us – our customers have a different perspective than us. Just because we don’t to be on our winery’s mailing list, doesn’t mean others don’t. We all have that one place we actually open the emails from because we love the company and/or product; for wine lovers – your winery could be it! They want to know about your events, promotions, and new releases, but they need to be invited.
  • It is an extension of good service – keeping track of repeat visitors makes it easier for us to provide great service! If we can greet them at the door by name, we will make them feel comfortable, beginning the rapport building right from the start.
  • Our database and club members kept us afloat during quarantine – when we were forced to close the tasting rooms, our loyal fans kept paying our bills (and salaries). This is job security people!

Ok, now let’s address the elephant in the room – do we need to ASK for peoples’ information when our reservation system will do it for us? WISE’s answer – absolutely!

  • We only want to email people who WANT to get our emails. So, we should invite our guests to join our list, getting their consent before we start emailing them. We caution against using business card fishbowls or other incentives to collect email addresses – would you rather have value buyers or repeat buyers make up most of your list?
  • Reservations only capture ONE member of the party. How often do we get a party of one? And married couples – don’t assume the reservation maker is also the email reader in the duo.
  • New guests may not give you their good email address until you’ve built rapport – what’s the point if all our emails are going into a 10-year old inbox where all emails remain unopened for all of eternity?

In 2021, our mystery shopping data showed us that the average tasting room metrics for attempting to collect contact data decreased from 38% to just 18% – ouch. Let’s not give up on the system that saved our bacon in 2020. WISE (as well as your local DTC platform, your marketing team, and your manager) would like to see the industry bring this percentage up. Like most things, collecting data will come easier with practice. If we remember to use the information we’ve collected, and work with our team, it will also make our jobs easier and more fun.