Building a Better Wine Event: Advice from Marketing and Event Planning Professionals (by Mort Hochstein)

Posted: April 23, 2013 by wynmaker in California, Celebrities, Cellars, Food, Social Media, Tasting, Vintage, Wine, Wineries, World wine news
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

 

 

Every year members of the Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux present wines in San Francisco, Chicago and New York. Their visit is one of the high points on calendars in major markets and is jammed with portfolio showings, regional and individual winery tastings.

 

The promotion by the premier growths of Bordeaux comes after months of preparation by staffers at Balzac Communications and Marketing in California. Organizers follow a 10-page battle plan that covers client goals, site selection, budgets, consumer and charity partners, invitations, tasting books, stemware, badges, trade and media lists, staffing and a long roster of peripherals. Many planners work with similar templates, smaller or equally detailed.

The success of a wine event starts with planning and a clear understanding of goals. The failures can often be traced to poor advance work and faulty follow through. The pitfalls are many, and catastrophes can happen. Here, marketing and event planning professionals offer their wisdom on planning the perfect wine event:

Things Do Go Wrong
All too frequently, wines, particularly those that must clear customs, are not available though they are listed on the program. Sometimes exhibitors do not know the wholesale or retail prices, speakers talk too long, or event sites are not ready on time. Melanie Young of The Connected Table in New York offered a litany of things that can make a presentation go sour.

“When you enter a poorly organized event, the room lacks professional ambiance. Registration is in disarray, there is no one to greet and direct guests and no helpful signage. No spit buckets. Cheap glassware that smells like dishwasher fluid. Tasting books that lack critical information or lines for writing notes, seminar handouts with no suggested pricing, poorly prepared literature that will only be tossed out afterwards,” she said.
“I’ve been to tastings with fragrant flowers and pourers wearing perfume. I’ve seen events where no one understands the need to serve product at the right temperature—white wine too cold or too warm and red wine that needed to be decanted—servers not briefed and unable to answer basic questions,” said Young.

Sam Folsom of Folsom Associates in San Francisco recalls arriving at a restaurant where the room was not prepared. “Our guests stood around waiting for staff to arrive and watched while they scrambled to set tables,” he said.

Be especially wary of large amounts of alcohol available at big consumer events, warns Aileen Robbins of the Dunn Robbins Group in New York. “When people pay to attend a tasting they really don’t want to ask questions about the terroir, they want to drink and eat as much as possible in the allotted time,” she observed. “I’ve seen inebriation, people who’ve fallen down stairs, passed out and wine glasses shattering after being dropped from upper floors.

On the other hand, having too few patrons can cause its own problems. “On another occasion, so few people showed up at a tasting that I was tempted to have waiters put on their street clothes and come back as guest,” Robbins said.

“Long ago,” comments Marsha Palanci of Cornerstone Communications in New York, “ I learned not to take anything for granted. We organized a vertical tasting at a Manhattan hotel and were assured that we did not need to rent stemware. When we arrived, we found a mix of six Riedel stems and six margarita glasses. We got rid of the Margaritas, and had guests empty, rinse and reuse their original glasses after the first go-around.”

Robbins added. “Once, a site manager locked us out because the client hadn’t paid the balance of the bill. Management refused to open the doors at starting time until we found a valid credit card to cover the amount.”

 

When Planning Works
Former sommelier Evan Goldstein directs Full Circle Wine Solutions. At a recent Full Circle tasting for Argentine wines at Cork Buzz, a popular venue in New York, guests first attended a seminar led by presenter Keith Goldston, master sommelier. Goldston lectured on Argentine wines, conducted a sampling of selected bottlings and orchestrated a lunch with matching wines, followed by a walk around tasting.

Each guest received a pamphlet detailing the wines and the wineries, harvest report, bottling details, tasting notes and suggested retail prices as well as the menu for the luncheon. The preparation was complete, down to spit cups for each participant, often an overlooked, emergency entry at tastings. Goldston had toured Argentine wine country, knew the wines and the vineyards and was able to answer all questions with ease.

“Planning is a complicated dance—you have to balance what you know will work with what your client wants and can pay for,” says Honora Horan, principal of HH Communications in Manhattan. “You have to get ‘good’ attendees: accredited, knowledgeable writers and appropriate wine buyers, sommeliers and retailers. There has to be something for the journalists to write about and wines that will appeal to the trade.”
Read on …

Advertisements
Comments
  1. […] Building a Better Wine Event: Advice from Marketing and Event Planning Professionals (by Mort Hochst… […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s