In Good Taste: Creating Tasting Room Experiences That Inspire Brand Loyalty

By Leisa Melancon, Director, Heron Crest Marketing

Your brand is much more than a logo or slogan; it’s your business reputation. Intuit co-founder, Scott Cook, said it best; “A brand is no longer what we tell the consumer it is – it is what consumers tell each other it is.” Building a successful brand takes time and requires ongoing support from everyone on your staff. Every interaction with your customers provides an opportunity to build your brand and inspire brand advocacy by creating a personal connection and earning trust.

Your tasting room provides the perfect opportunity to create a setting that inspires brand loyalty and turns visitors into lifelong customers and advocates. While it’s important to focus attention on the actual tasting, the overall visitor experience must be considered.

To elevate tasting room visitor experiences you need to be tuned in to your customer’s expectations. Next to a face-to-face conversation, one of the most effective ways to gain customer insight is through social media monitoring. What feedback are you receiving on your Facebook, Twitter and other social accounts? Also check out reviews of competitor tasting room visits on social media sites, such as Yelp and Trip Advisor. What can you learn and implement from the conversations?

In a recent search of social media posts about tasting room visits, I found some common insights into customer expectations. Comments centered on atmosphere and comfort, customer service, communication and memories. Key takeaways are provided below, along with some possible tactics that can be tailored to suit your unique brand.

Crowd Control – If the tasting area is busy, direct visitors to an overflow area, such as outdoor seating, a gift shop or event room. One social media post offered praise for a winery that offered them a complimentary additional bottle tasting, due to a delay.

Food – Offer cheese and fruit trays for purchase and provide seating areas for visitors to relax and enjoy them with a bottle of wine. Several social media posts mentioned how enjoyable it was to spend time enjoying the scenery after the tasting.

Music – the right selections can support your brand and set the mood. If you’re playing CD’s, consider selling them in a gift area. Live music is popular and doesn’t have to be expensive. Consider hiring a new local musician that is trying to develop a following.

Seating – Offer seating options to accommodate the variety of needs that can occur.

Lighting – Inexpensive updates can be made to enhance lighting and set a mood that best reflects your brand. Simple displays of branches strung with tiny white lights are an attractive low cost option.

Events – What makes your winery unique? What community events could you schedule that reflect your branding? Events that support local charities promote good will and are fun, profitable and rewarding.

Friendly, Attentive Staff – Greetings matter. Even if you’re busy, make sure visitors are acknowledged and feel welcome.

Engaging Tours – Keep the content sounding fresh and interact with guests. Make it special by sharing your unique brand story and including interesting historical details.

Education – Share and discuss each wine, and allow for conversation. Offer guests an opportunity to sign up for emails to receive updates, newsletters, etc.

Clear, Detailed Signage – one visitor mentioned that a sign indicated the winery was open until 6pm, but when he arrived at 5:35pm, he was informed tastings were cut-off at 5:30. While the need to allow time for tastings prior to close of business is obvious, communicating specifics up front can help avoid disappointment.

Gifts – Even if you don’t have space for a full gift shop, you can set-up a table or counter display to allow customers to take home keepsakes from their visit. Logo merchandise, such as winery t-shirts, are popular and help spread brand awareness. Corkscrews, coasters and other wine-related gadgets are perfect gift options for areas where space is limited.

Photos – If visitors are snapping selfies or taking photos of each other, offer to take a group photo for them. Many will share their images on social media, mentioning your winery. (#brand building!) Why not create a photo op spot? A barrel display or vine-covered trellis would be a draw. Of course you’ll want to capture images for your own social pages, as well.

Consumer insight is essential to providing your tasting room visitors the enjoyable, unique experience they seek. The more you know about your customers, the easier it is to create more personal, memorable visitor experiences that inspire brand loyalty and increase sales.

Photo of Leisa Melancon

Leisa Melancon is a Certified Marketing Consultant and Director at Heron Crest Marketing in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Heron Crest is a boutique marketing consulting firm specializing in branding, content marketing and creative design. Leisa can be reached at