Debbi Fields of Mrs. Fields Cookies has this motto: Good Enough Never Is. From this philosophy, she built a cookie business empire. Making people feel special and cared for, giving customers her very best, was a key ingredient in her recipe for success.
In our world, great winery guest experiences are a well-orchestrated dance between performing the acts of service, and creating the feelings of hospitality. Customers want magic in the tasting room: the magic of wine, winemaking, the beauty of the wine country, the beauty of the tasting room, the joy of people coming together. They don’t want to know that you’re tired, the ice machine isn’t working, sales are down, you haven’t had a break, you’re mad at your boss, or the POS system is a royal pain. They simply want to relax and enjoy the pixie dust. This is where hospitality begins: seeing things from the customer perspective, understanding what they’re feeling and seeking – and providing that to them in a way that is personal, memorable, enchanting.
Service is just ‘good enough.’ Service is the task, it is what we do. Hospitality is how we make the guest feel while we are doing the task. It is the genuine warmth we provide while we pour the wine. It’s a mind set and a choice, to consciously decide to give more and do more for each individual customer.
So how can we elevate our guest experiences to provide outstanding hospitality?
Service is suggesting a restaurant. Hospitality is picking up the phone and making the reservation.
Service is the act of ringing up a purchase. Hospitality is the act of finding exactly the right merchandise that goes perfectly with the purchase, to make an upcoming event more special.
Service is pouring a wine and explaining the varietal and the location of the AVA. Hospitality is about finding how our guest enjoys wines and recommending food and wine pairings for their favorites.
Acts of Service:
- Logistics – showing where the bathroom is, where the tour begins
- Pouring wine, talking about wine
- Selling wine, selling club memberships, capturing contact data
- Ringing up the order, taking money or credit card for payment
Acts of Hospitality:
- Making guests feel welcome, feel comfortable.
- Making guests feel part of the family, part of the winery, part of the wine club community
- Making guests feel important, feel understood – by asking open ended questions and being an active listener.
- Having fun with guests – when you have fun yourself it’s contagious.
- Making guests feel special through relevant, meaningful surprise & delight.
Surprise & Delight
The ‘bonus pour’ has become a standard practice in many tasting rooms. That is service. However, one size doesn’t fit all, so it’s up to us to figure out what our guests would enjoy most, and so that each guest gets a relevant extra pour. That is hospitality.
“I noticed you are interested in the Club, let me pour you one of the club only wines.”
“You said the Merlot was your favorite, let me pour you an additional splash while you fill out the order form.”
See the tasting room and guest experience as your guests do. Taste at other wineries and learn to walk in your guests’ shoes. It’s the little things that mean so much. Have a pen, a napkin, and water available. Carry the wine to the car. Offer a blanket if your tasting experience is outside and it gets chilly.
More customer engagement, and emotional connection has the additional benefit of happier team members. The job can be boring if you are repeating the same monologue again and again each day. It becomes rewarding for both the customer and employee when there is real engagement.
Great Hospitality is free. All it takes is a moment of your time to look outward – to put on your metaphorical customer glasses – and to see where you can truly help someone. If you don’t, there are hundreds of wineries out there who will be happy to care for the customers that could have been yours.