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Cellar door experience

Getting the cellar door just right is essential, because for most wineries this is where it all comes together – tastings, sales, introducing your brand and collecting feedback. Running an effective cellar door can also make a big difference to your profits.

Factors that contribute to success include:

Location

  • Being close to, or preferably part of, a main tourist route
  • Your proximity to target markets and/or high population areas
  • Your ability to attract visitors year round
  • Being part of a strong tourism region and/or close to other wineries

First Impressions

  • Brand consistency through your signage, buildings, grounds and facilities
  • Professionally presented and maintained entrance, grounds and buildings
  • Authenticity and a clearly recognisable point of difference

Signage

  • Strong entry statement that entices visitors to stop
  • Good directional signage into and throughout your property

Extra Selling Points

  • Adequate parking for a range of visitors, including buses, caravans and limousines
  • Your ability to create a destination in your own right
  • Features that encourage referrals from other wineries and attractions
  • Family-friendly facilities and grounds
  • Links with nature-based activities
  • A range of facilities that lead to a "total tourism experience"

Welcoming cellar door design

The type and range of facilities you offer will determine the length of time visitors are prepared to spend with you, and will also influence how much they're likely to spend and whether they will return.

Visitors need to be "rewarded" for making the trek to see you and the last thing they need is to feel intimidated. Therefore, carefully consider how your design, both external and internal, makes people feel. Is it relaxed and inquisitive? Or tense and intimidated?

Whether you operate from a tin shed, a stone cellar or invest in upmarket contemporary infrastructure, the goal is always the same: to create a memorable experience that will translate into customer loyalty and ongoing sales.

All of this sets the stage for the visitors' experience, adds value to your wine brand and contributes to your bottom line. And remember, once you've caught their attention and got them to your property, it's over to you to begin building the relationship with your customers.

Outside the door

You've only got one chance to make a first impression. Before visitors can taste your wine, they need to find your property. And before they do that, they need a reason. If yours is a well-known and sought-after brand, that alone might be sufficient reason to track you down.

But for the majority of visitors to Australia's wine regions, the quality of the wine is not always enough. In fact, the region's reputation for quality wine will usually be known, so there is probably an assumption that every winery in the region produces decent wine.

Some visitors don't pre-plan their winery visits and will respond favourably to things like prominent signage and entry statements. Others will rely on referrals from friends, family or other attractions they've visited. Another segment will take their friends and family to tried and trusted cellar doors, while the more adventurous will deliberately seek out somewhere new.

Whilst you may not believe that you can directly control the way other businesses in your community talk about you to their customers, in reality you can influence their perception. Did you know that two of the businesses most often asked for advice on where to visit in a region are the newsagents and service station?

You need to be aware of how they perceive you and what information they're actually relaying to people. You can achieve this by taking the time to develop a relationship with them, invite them to visit your property or occasionally drop in a bottle of wine. You can then be confident they will have a positive message to convey.

It's another example of casting the net wide to encapsulate all the elements that will impact on the number of visitors that find their way to you. Paying attention to all of the external factors, both on your property and within your community, will pay big dividends.

External facilities checklist (PDF)

Inside the door

The way you project your brand image doesn't stop at the entrance to your cellar door - it needs to weave its way through your facilities and into the experience. There are many elements to consider when designing your cellar door space, and while you can't expect to please absolutely every visitor who walks in your door, you can increase the chances of creating a memorable experience by incorporating a range of facilities and activities that will appeal to most.

What is the role? The role and function of your cellar door is the first thing to consider. If you're simply offering wine tastings and perhaps selling some wine-related accessories, then your design can be quite simple. However, if you intend incorporating food service, interpretive displays, merchandise, group tastings and tours, you need to consider how these elements can be presented harmoniously in line with expected visitor numbers.

Filling the space Think of your behaviour when you walk into a restaurant that's virtually empty - do you feel inclined to take a table? Why do you think restaurants position early patrons closer to windows and areas visible on entry? People are social creatures and often require reassurance that others support their decisions. If other people are present, it must be okay! Generally, there's a minimum volume of people required to create a conducive atmosphere. Conversely, if there are too many people and the space feels crowded, people will assume that service will be poor or slow and this will deter them. Hence the need to balance the space in a cellar door to cater for different needs and different sized groups.

Internal facilities checklist (PDF)

Adding the ambience

Intangible elements are just as important as the tangibles. Connecting with visitors at the emotional level involves engaging the senses. A crackling fire in winter creates warmth and has a gravitational effect on visitors. Use a little imagination and consider things like music, video, and even oak barrels to create your desired atmosphere and put visitors at ease. It's all about attracting visitors and encouraging them to stay long enough to connect favourably with you and your brand, resulting in a sale.

 

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