While it might not be brain surgery, being a winery tour guide is still a pretty important and impressive job. Tasting room associates and tour guides are the ‘front line’, the face of the brand and often the first interaction guests have with our brand, wines and winery. A winery tour guide is seen as a professional wine educator and most people are not only in awe of all the knowledge a guide has, but they look to the guide as an expert. A tour guide is tasked with introducing – or reinforcing – the brand and being the go-to for knowledge while guests are visiting.

Not only are tour guides an important liaison to guests, tour guides are a big part of the business success of a winery.  When a tour is done well and guests really enjoy the experience, guests want to ‘keep the magic alive’ after the experience is over by joining a wine club and purchasing wine. Tours are a huge benefit to a winery because of this increase of wine club signups, increase in sales dollars, and an increase in brand awareness. The better the tour and the more engaging the tour guide, the more likely sales and wine club signups will result.

It’s a win-win situation – guides get the respect of being an expert (not to mention getting to walk around each day making new friends) and the winery benefits financially and with brand recognition. It sounds simple, but we all know being a tour guide isn’t that easy. Here are some key best practices to keep in mind to ensure not only we – and our guests – are enjoying ourselves, but we’re also adhering to our business objectives.

Tour Tips & Tricks for Best Practices:

  • Corral the Crowd. Tours can be a challenge, especially with larger groups. The best way to keep control of your group is to treat them like a bunch of 4-year-olds and shepherd them – walk ahead of the group and keep them close. Talk loud enough that the back of the group can still hear you (speak from the diaphragm not from your throat), and choreograph the tour so it is physically inappropriate for the guests to be walking ahead. If people are talking during the tour and distracting others, stop talking and make eye contact. Usually that’s enough for people to keep private comments for a private time, or use open-ended questions to re-engage them.
  • Create the Connection. It’s easy to make friends when we have a captive audience who wants to hear all about what we do…our job is to engage with our guests and educate, entertain, and entice them (with incentives to buy wine, join the wine club, or keep in contact with the winery). Not everyone is created equal, so don’t assume guests all understand everything, especially our ‘wine industry’ vernacular. If we can engage guests by using the Platinum Rule (treat others as they would like to be treated), we can play off their answers to our questions and find out their needs. The easiest way to do this is to create intimacy within the larger group by engaging in smaller subset groups and asking open-ended questions.
  • Consider the Crumbs. Don’t let Hansel and Gretel be the only ones laying a good trail to follow. The best way to build a connection with guests and give good service is to figure out what their needs/wants are and deliver it. Laying a trail of bread crumbs for your guests on the benefits of buying the wine that they are enjoying, joining the wine club, or staying in touch, is just good service if you’re giving them what they want. Plant those ideas throughout the entire experience and then complete the experience by closing the loop with the Triple Score (1. Ask for the sale. 2. Present the wine club. 3. Collect contact data.)

Now, go out there and give the phenomenal tour that you know you can. Just remember, the experience isn’t over until the guest has made their purchases, signed up for the club, and are walking out to the door.