Wine Tourism Conference 2024 at Lanzerac

"The Business of Wine Tourism" was the focus of this year's conference, held on Thursday 30 May 2024 at Lanzerac Wine Estate, and by all accounts one of the best yet. Margi Biggs announced that she will no longer be convening the conference in future. So perhaps it is time for South Africa Wine and Wesgro to step up?

With Cape Town receiving the highest number of tourists ever in the V&A Waterfront, it definitely is time for us all to sharpen our Wine Tourism pencils and look at how we are receiving our visitors and how are we engaging with them on an ongoing basis.

Technology and integration of data are the order of the day, as well as collaboration and working together, and if you are not using all these to assist your efforts then you may be missing the big bus.

According to Paul Wagner, long-time educator at Napa Valley College’s Viticulture and Enology department, "We sell lifestyle, not wine" and we often forget that in our marketing speak. Most people don't travel because they want to drink wine, but have a myriad other activities in their plans, with wine being one of them.

Mike Ratcliffe made it clear that you need to pick one thing and do it well and make it your brand identity. And as a traveller/tourist, ensuring that you can take bookings for your visitors, esp international tourists who plan way in advance.

And will soon we will have the new Cape Winelands Airport, which will take the load off Cape Town, provide services for airlines and hopefully make it easier for visitors to come to our beautiful winelands.  Mike Wilkinson presented on this massive investment in the country.

Veteran DTC Specialist Peter McAtamney: "The Holy Grail - complete alignment between your offer and the customer's most desired experience!"

Francois Rautenbach, who took Singita's wine offering to a new height: "Think about your property as a conservation property. Things are changing. People want to see authenticity, good quality, diversity, a real lived experience."

A People focus is what it is about - learn to understand your customer. DTC (Direct to Consumer) focus is clearly where it is at and honing one's skills in this area is going to reap rewards.

Stories sell, we need to seduce people. We sell a sexy product and people actually do want to hear from wineries after they have visited, so we have many opportunities to improve our long-term brand loyalty.

Gratitude to Margi for the many years of arranging this conference... She will be much missed.