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Old 01-26-2016, 07:44 PM   #1
Hokapsig
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Well, this past Sunday we did our first wine show. The show was at the Convention center in downtown Pittsburgh and was featured as a "Women and Wine" show. The promoters told us that they had presold 8000 tickets and that there would be 14 wineries and about 70 other vendors catering to women.

Based on this information, I called other wineries which would be going to this event. I was told (by reputeable winery owners) that, based on this information, we should bring about 100 cases and be prepared to sell out that day. Tempering my exhuberance, we took about 80 cases (sell out early and go home). The event was to run from 11 am to 5 pm.

However, this event was a day before the Nor'easter snow storm that shut down much of the east coast. 4 wineries could not attend as they couldn't get through the snow. I'm thinking, "great, less competition should equate to more sales for us".

I took along my best, though untested, crew (all heros in my eyes). My wife would run the square for processing sales, my co worker would get bottles ready for the bottle check, ffemt and my son and I would be the pourers.

We were not prepared for the onslaught of 8000 thirsty women, all which had been promised "unlimited wine sampling". The problem we soon encountered began to add up. The wifi connection would not work, meaning the credit cards would need to be keyed in manually instead of swiping the square (costing more and slowing down the process). We were soon inundated with women 8 deep at our table, all demanding wine tastings with only a few buying. We were told our wines were good, but the expectation was for the women to drink and taste, not to buy. We ended up giving out 8 cases in samples, though we did sell about 15 cases of wine.

Thank goodness for the Angel known as ffemt. He saved the day by offering his truck to transport the 50 cases of unsold wine back to our winery (even after being in the trenches and slinging wine for 6 hours). Remember, we were to sell 100 cases and wouldn't have to transport any wine home.

Women soon became unruly and surrounded our table and wine supply. We did experience some product shrinkage due to the unruly crowd. For any new wineries getting ready to do thier first show, let me post some of the lessons which we learned the hard way. Other professionals are encouraged to post thier lessons for us newbies too. Trust me, we could use the lessons.....
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Old 01-26-2016, 07:56 PM   #2
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I'm sorry to hear about your experiences. Direct sales, in any field, are very very hard and full of emotional ups and downs. At least you tried, and you no doubt learned things that will help you plan your future sales actions. I wish you the best.

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Old 01-26-2016, 08:03 PM   #3
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Lesson 1 - we brought 11 wines to introduce and sample. This was too many. women that wanted to taste all the wines took too long and got confused as to what they tasted and liked. Many had thier free fill and moved on without a purchase. Next time, we will limit our line up to 6 or 7 wines (one dry, 2 sweeter/semi sweet whites, 3 sweet reds/blends).

Lesson 2 - serve only the people in front of you. The women surrounded our table and those on the sides demanded to be served, causing us to rush back and forth and spread the pouring staff out too much. Next time, we only serve those in front of us. Those women on the side will either move to the front or move on. We don't want to sacrifice our gameplan for tasters demanding our attention and spreading us thin.

Lesson 3 - we had one square for processing payments. This was not enough and I have no doubt we lost sales due to not having our equipment work properly (even after testing frequently the night before). We will procure another square for faster processing.

Lesson 4 - more equipment. while trying to provide a positive experience to the tasters, we bagan to empty bottles from the tastings and needed to uncork and put the pouring spouts back in. We soon had multiple bottles opened using up all our spouts. also, we only had two wine openers (one which took a chuck out of my thumb). At least 2 openers with additional openers as a backup.

Lesson 5 - half pours. Although we are allowed to pour an ounce per tasting, we cut back to half or quarter ounce tastings. We learned that REAL fast....

Lesson 6 - private space. Our wine supply was located behind us, but we didn't have tables to enclose the 2 front tasting tables. The women were almost in our pouring area due to the uncontrolled crowd. the next time, 2 more tables will be taken to enclose our space. No more shrinkage for us.

I'm sure there will be more, but I'll let others impart thier wisdom......
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Old 01-26-2016, 08:07 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AZMDTed View Post
I'm sorry to hear about your experiences. Direct sales, in any field, are very very hard and full of emotional ups and downs. At least you tried, and you no doubt learned things that will help you plan your future sales actions. I wish you the best.
Thanks Ted, but don't feel sorry for us. We learned, albiet the hard way, about doing a wine festival. If we wouldn't have learned, then you could feel sorry for us. We learned an experience and will be better for it. We don't want to sound whiney, but it was a baptism by fire for sure....

PS. thanks for the good wishes....
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Old 01-27-2016, 10:19 AM   #5
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Great information. Thanks. Lessons learned are mistakes not repeated.

1. 11 wines! Yes, that is way too many. I will be sticking with no more than 5. This is great advice.

2./6. - Thanks. I wasn't thinking about this problem of controlling the crowd, space and focus.

3. I have learned to make sure my cell phone internet sharing is always available in case there is no wifi. I use my phone as a wifi hub. Having more is always good.

5. Yes - not possible to provide full pours for that many people. Did the event provide glasses for the ladies? If so, you don't have much control over their glass size. If you are providing tasting cups - I have found that using those small plastic shot glasses rather than a larger cup to help limit oversampling. That and those simple plastic slow pourers work well.
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Old 01-27-2016, 11:30 AM   #6
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I have worked some events like this for my buddy's micro brewery.

One thing we did was to structure the fences and barricades so that a single file line forms. Once a person reaches the front of the line an usher can then direct that person to one of five "tasting stations". As soon as that "tasting station" frees up, the next person in line is directed there. This forces the crowd away from your tasting tables.

When you say "shrinkage", are you saying that there was out-and-out theft of your wine? If so, what kind of women were these people????
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Old 01-27-2016, 06:51 PM   #7
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Although the inventory is not done yet, we did experience the theft of some wine. I like the idea of a que line and we may try to do that.

We supplied the 1 ounce shot glasses and only filled them half way. The next two shows supply tasting glasses.
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Old 01-27-2016, 07:42 PM   #8
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You cannot control or stage lines at most wine events. You have to work around that. Having one person that does nothing but opens bottles and returns empties back to the cases helps a lot to keep things running smoothly. Keep the empties so you know what you sold and what you sampled. A large cooler with dry ice is beneficial for keeping sweet wines cold until opened. I personally don't enjoy working wine festivals (drunkfest) compared to working a tasting room. A festival people are there to drink in the tasting room they are there to taste and hear your story. With that said, some festivals are very profitable.

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Old 01-28-2016, 09:42 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Runningwolf View Post
You cannot control or stage lines at most wine events. You have to work around that. Having one person that does nothing but opens bottles and returns empties back to the cases helps a lot to keep things running smoothly. Keep the empties so you know what you sold and what you sampled. A large cooler with dry ice is beneficial for keeping sweet wines cold until opened. I personally don't enjoy working wine festivals (drunkfest) compared to working a tasting room. A festival people are there to drink in the tasting room they are there to taste and hear your story. With that said, some festivals are very profitable.
Runningwolf, you write that there are many interesting exhibitions, can give some examples?
thanks Chanel

 
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Old 01-28-2016, 07:17 PM   #10
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Chanel I don't see where I said there are many exhibitions. But with that said in the area that Bill and I live in there are wine tasting events throughout the year. You just have to pick and choose which one fits your winery best. Some may be too far away to see return customers or too big that you would not be able to keep up. There are fantastic events for every winery in this state. With you being in Italy I'm not sure what you have available.

 
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