New customer segments are evolving both in the U.S. and globally. The millennial generation will be the single most significant factor affecting U.S. market demand. These 70 million consumers are both wine and tech-savvy and are used to using their mobile phones to order food and drink on demand. Creating travel plans, or purchasing wine via a retail channel is no different. Matching consumer’s on-demand needs with producers’ products create a win-win for both sides.
It’s clear that wine producers are seeking to become stronger at positioning their brand while gaining insights into their consumers’ behavior and market trends. Through specialization and the adventurous nature of high-end wine consumers, producers will continue to have a steady flow of buyers who constantly seek new experiences and education; many consumers will persist in their quest for undiscovered, higher-quality DTC wines.
It is necessary for winery owners to accurately recognize how visitors use technology and devices in order to better promote their business within their available marketing budget. Furthermore, by understanding which websites or social applications visitors use at each stage of planning and how they access those sites, marketers will be more able to provide the right marketing content in the right places, utilizing the right formatting to optimize the viewing capabilities.
Over the last decade, there have been significant changes to the information search patterns and information consumption, in part due to technological advances. As new devices are offered and new technologies are developed, prior research quickly becomes outdated and is less reliable in guiding the implications of changing tourism trends.
Users, both domestic and international, are increasing their reliance on review and recommendation- type websites designed to help them find and plan winery visits. Currently, there are very few reliable options to find and plan a trip to a winery matching tastes and desired experience. The winery directory websites that do exist often list out of date, incomplete or incorrect information. Winery and user participation levels of these types of websites are low due to poorly designed UI/UX. They provide limited value for both the brand and consumer and this disconnect leads frustration on both ends.
There are generally two types of winery review websites. There are those that cover a large number of wineries but provide a low level of detailed information and websites that have fewer listings but provide detailed information exceeding most people’s expectations. In other words, sites that use TTB and COLA registration information as a basis for displaying their data seldom provide detailed winery descriptions, amenities, and review information. Sites that do provide detailed winery descriptions and reviews often list only a small percentage of the wineries that actually exist.
During research for the development of Wine Routes, I had the opportunity to take a closer look at how Yelp, Trip Advisor, and Google list wineries’ attributes. Below are my findings:
Yelp includes a total of 4,722 winery listings; 3,389 wineries listed with hours; 3,302 claimed wineries; and 320 reviews
Winery reviews at yelp.com are like finding any other business on the platform. Users find wineries by choosing a category type from the free-form search bar such as the term “Wineries.” Next, they choose a location where they’d like to find results such as “Near Santa Rosa, California.” Wineries are then displayed in a list view and ordered by which businesses are paying to be promoted. The winery filters are basic such as indicators for a price ($, $$, $$$, $$$$), (Open Now), (Online Booking), (Highest Rated), (Most Viewed), and (Distance from current location). Advanced filter options are available but they don’t seem all that useful for someone wanting to visit a winery, ie (Parking, Y, N) (Wi-Fi) and (PokeStop Nearby).
When a user clicks on a winery they will be brought to a landing page that showcases the winery. Descriptions are often minimal and if present, are supplied by the winery. The limited feature/amenity search only displays 10 wineries at a time, which is rather limiting when trying to plan a trip. A review total and count are displayed along with a map, address, phone #, URL, hours, photos and messaging. For businesses paying to be promoted, coupons and redeemable offers can be displayed. Users can assign 1 to 5 stars to a winery but cannot search using these metrics. Users are unable to create itineraries but can bookmark wineries to add them to a list. Yelp does not provide a winery with the ability to list any information about their wine such as currently available vintages, prices, rating, reviews, vineyard or AVA details.
Trip Advisor includes 2,936 total listings, 1,431 Businesses with Reviews, Review Counts 2,897
Searching for a winery on Trip Advisor can be a bit tricky. Reviews are found under “things to do” and are listed in a group of other things to do, including “Brewery Tours” and “Farmers Markets.” Wineries cannot be found by name, feature or sorted by amenities and there is no way to create an actual itinerary. Users are however able to save a winery to a list and can provide a 1 to 5 rating by which they can sort wineries. What separates Trip Advisor from Yelp and the other directory-based websites, is its Online Booking feature. If a winery is set up with Trip Advisor they can post details about tours. Interested tourists can then pre-purchase those offerings, which is a win-win for the winery and Trip Advisor.
Tourists can easily find wineries on google.com by typing in either general or specific terms. Most wineries have consumer-facing websites, which means Google lists them under the plethora of search variances. As it relates to wineries, users can add a review using a 0 – 5-star scale but they cannot search for wineries but can sort based on these ratings. Google.com does not allow wineries to be searched based on feature and amenities but does provide high-quality mapping, directions, and itinerary functionality.
Wine Routes includes 4,180 open to the public tasting rooms.
Wine Routes elevates the wine travel experience for users and brands alike. Using Wine Routes’ wine country trip planner, consumers are able to explore wine country locations based on amenities, varietals served, price level, and reviews. Additionally, they can curate and share their very own wine routes with the community, allowing them to customize their perfect wine country experience.
The social aspects of Wine Routes bode well for the marketing of wines. There is a lot of confusion in the marketplace with the seemingly endless labels in the retail and DTC channels. Until now, consumers have had to rely on formal education from experts, books, magazines, and newsletters to help determine which wines to purchase to reduce the risk of a dissatisfying experience. However, there has been a shift for wine enthusiasts to rely more heavily on social media and seek advice from friends and acquaintances.
Wine Routes allows users to interact directly with one another in the tasting room, enhancing their experience and providing feedback on visits and taste profiles. As users taste, cellar, and review wines on Wine Routes, they are contributing to a growing knowledge base that will help consumers find and learn about wines from other wine lovers like themselves. Users can quickly add descriptive tags and reviews, storing their personal taste and experience of the wine. Saving wines and following wineries create a connection between that user and the brand, helping them stay engaged and informed of new wine releases, special offers, and experiences long after their trip ends.
This streamlined integration of travel planning and consumer-brand interaction is a first for the wine industry. What sets Wine Routes apart is that we have brought all brands and experiences together into one community, providing consumers a single platform to access on-demand information about their trips to wine country. Additionally, brands now have the ability to attract consumers who have shown a direct interest in their wines and winery. This not only builds brand awareness for wineries but also deeply emphasizes brand identity and expands the general winery narrative. For example, someone who lives in Florida wants to travel to California for a wine tasting vacation with friends. They would be able to use Wine Routes and filter potential wineries by location, varietals served, rating, reviews, and amenities.
Here are example search types: Family friendly, Provides tours, Free tasting, Located in the Dry Creek Valley AVA, Serves Zinfandel, Has a 5-star rating. A list of wineries matching those geo-targeted specifics would be returned. They would select which wineries they would like to visit and what order they want to visit them in. Once they have created their route, they would name it, publish it, and share it with friends and via connected social media channels. The users would have the ability to review both the wines and wineries, save the wines to their cellar, and create tasting notes.
There is currently no nationwide app on the market that allows a user to create, save and share a wine route, i.e. multiple points of interest. Through our research, we have found a number of apps that have tried but have been unsuccessful in creating usable wine routing assistance. None of them have been able to create a sticky social environment that ties users to the app, leading to outdated and inaccurate data and poor user experiences.
As a wine-centric specific media publisher, our consumer behavior and audience insights help clients increase sales and build brand loyalty, thus making us truly unique from other wine specific digital publishers. In today’s ever-changing digital landscape, delivering the proper audience the right message at the right time is complicated. Wine Routes has built an integrated marketing solution that allows us to fully map the consumer’s path, in turn maximizing exposure and leading to a path of purchase and increased brand loyalty.
If you’re a DTC producer with an open to the public tasting room and looking to build brand awareness and engage with your consumers, we invite you to claim your Wine Routes winery profile. Once your account is claimed you will have access to a robust backend where you can manage wines and have them displayed to thirsty customers looking to make travel plans.
We are working to transform the way people travel and experience wine country. We invite you to join us in this venture to explore wineries near you and plan your next trip!