Wine tourism is considered one of the most developed tourist products in the world in the last decades. This usually requires constant investigation and monitoring to adapt the supply to the evolution of the demand. But what is the future of the wine tourism industry and how was it changed by the Covid-19 pandemic? In a way, it was forced to look for alternative strategic paths, since the pandemic crisis has imposed enormous challenges on business organizations.
Let us find out which alternatives are the future of wine tourism.
How the Wine Experiences Were Reinvented
In the last months, regions like the Douro, Vinho Verde and Porto have been working on their action plans to recover their activity and reinvent themselves.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, wineries have gotten creative in how to stay connected with consumers. For instance, some have established flat-rate delivery fees in their products, and are also betting on e-commerce for selling their wines. One wine experience that has really grown in the past few months and was a way that estates have come up with to reinvent themselves in order to remain in the market is the virtual wine tasting. These virtual tastings, many of them private – meaning it is a session between the client and the moderator – allow customers to experience a wine tasting from the comfort and safety of their home.
Through streaming services, visitors will enjoy the wine along with the moderator, who is often the winemaker who describes the wine in a fun and engaging way. Along with the tasting, you can ask questions while learning all about the estate and its wines. Estates like Quinta da Lixa and Quinta Nova are some that have in their offer these fantastic online private wine tastings.
The Importance of the Digital
Due to the pandemic crises, the importance of the digital has found a new way as something that was supposed to change in the years to come gained a new acceleration rate in its process.
Each region is making virtual publicity of its best tourist attractions to reach its target audience. The common objective is to unify efforts to launch a sector that was having a hard time getting out of weeks of total inactivity. Therefore, virtual campaigns have been promoting their regions and experiences while maintaining their presence on social networks to engage with their actual followers and new ones. They have also been preparing to adapt to new future trends and to the changes the new visitor demands will entail for tourist products and services. As mentioned earlier, and one of the biggest promotions found in their channels is the elimination and modification of its terms and conditions, using the ‘Book with flexibility’ option to help travellers feel more comfortable booking their future experiences.
The Newfound Importance of Sustainability
In recent years, this industry has been searching for untapped natural resources and capabilities for synergies between the primary sector and tourism, in which sustainable development and environment preservation are the key-factor. New opportunities inside the industry have been arising for innovation and the creation of sustainable processes and products in the pursuit of a sustainable competitive advantage. These kinds of processes create an incredibly positive business-related performance as customers were already searching for places to visit with sustainable practices, and now, due to the pandemic, these have gained even more importance in the consumers’ minds.
Environmental sustainability in the wine industry is receiving increased attention from retailers, governments, environmental groups, and consumers. It is also a powerful motivation for wineries and tourism-related businesses to become more environmentally sustainable, due to strategic, internal, and external drivers. These motivations lead the estates to sustainable practices such as water, waste and energy management, risk management, supply chain management, employee training, and community relations. They also increased concerns about the safety of the employees, company culture, environmental impact, and social responsibility.
A wine tourism market can be considered successful and sustainable through the loyalty of returning wine tourists and the ability to attract new tourists to the winery or wine region – supplemental products and services are required, such as regional recreational opportunities, wine tastings, educational services, customer service, and knowledgeable winery staff, in addition to the core product of the wine itself.
Generally, long-distance tourists do not plan visits to a wine region based on the presence of wineries and wine products alone but seek a wide variety of cultural tourism and outdoor recreation. This desire of the wine tourists to access the knowledge of the winemakers is characterized in engaging in this educational service, which is an important part of the winery experience.
Text and photos by Wine Tourism in Portugal