Hallgarten & Novum Wines Events Manager, Chris Porter, has been working with the company for almost 20 years and is the brains behind the logistical operation that is the Annual Tasting – our yearly showcase of the best parts of the portfolio. With preparations for the 2020 tasting well underway, Chris has taken a step back to consider the top 10 things to consider when running an event.
First off, define your primary objective and convey this to your customers. It is essential to be as targeted as possible to attract the right audience. What is our purpose? What do we want to achieve? Who do we want attending? Where is our focus? These are just some of the questions you will need to explore.
Whether it’s a large scale event showcasing hundreds of wines, or a smaller affair with a handful of producers, the overriding objective remains the same – to impress and generate business.
Ultimately, an objective combined with a theme brings focus, and will help to qualify the success of your event, with any achievements translating into sales and favourable write-ups.
Timing is everything
Month – Timing is key and this next step should align with your main objectives. For example to gain traction on any newly launched wines, you must consider when the trade reviews their wine lists, as they will be more inclined edit their portfolio around then. Seasonality is also crucial, as certain themes work better at different times of the year.
Day – Most events work well mid-week. If yours is aimed at consumers, try to think when they would most likely have free time such as Thursday, which is late enough in the week but not a prime weekend day.
Time – In most cases it’s important to not start too early. Beginning at 11am works well in the wine industry for trade tastings, as this allows time for travel, but still provides an opportunity to taste before lunchtime. Also bear in mind the finish time and consider the audience. For us, if we’re inviting sommeliers or restaurateurs, they are often limited by service times, so finishing too early may not provide them with the opportunity to attend. For a wine merchant holding a tasting in the evening the hours between 6pm and 9pm are prime time.
Choose the right venue
Venue choice is paramount to success, and as such it is crucial to choose somewhere that can accommodate the right location, capacity and ambiance to enhance your event. Alignment to your theme should also be considered. If you’re not holding the event at your own site, a spacious, well-decorated venues close to amenities such as transport links, hotels, restaurants etc. are a good option, and can be easily transformed to meet your needs. Consequently, opting for a premium venue is usually a good investment.
Identifying your target audience is vital in order to tailor your event accordingly. On top of this, it’s important that any invite you design is clear and concise, with minimal content at the early stage. The essentials, if relayed effectively, should be enough to peak their interest; further information can be relayed at a later date.
Transmission of your invites to your selected audience is quite key, digitally inviting guests is time-efficient and simple, whereas a hand delivered invite is a personal touch that is always appreciated.
Timing is important here, if sent out too early, the event may be forgotten, but too late and run the chance of people already having plans. Two months in advance of the event usually works well and provides a suitable amount of notice for your customers.
Social media – Promote, inspire and share
An extremely useful tool in promoting anything these days is social media. It is a great way to connect with the targeted audience for your event, and in the right hands can be incredibly effective.
The beauty of social media is that it is so accessible, you can easily create a buzz and spread the word across a number of different platforms, such as Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook.
To promote events effectively, creating a social media calendar to plan and regulate activity can help to build anticipation through a steady release of content.
Promotion of your event doesn’t stop on the day. In fact, it’s the perfect time to generate some noise about it! Getting staff and guests to use a previously specified hashtag when posting on social media can help endorse your event through various online channels via the sharing of photos and videos from the day. Keep an eye on who has used the hashtag and track the engagement after the event – these could be future customers!
Reception – The gatekeepers
At any event it is essential to have a pair of sociable and welcoming people looking after reception. This is the first point of contact for all guests, and it is important to create a good first impression. Streamlining this process to minimise time spent at this area will ensure customers remain satisfied, and are not put off by long queues before even entering your event.
The main jobs here are to register arrivals, meet and greet your guests, and be a point of reference through your customers throughout the day. Keeping track of attendance is imperative to understanding the success of the event.
It is important to remember that although sustenance should always be considered, it is not the primary focus of the day. If you opt to provide food, try to keep thing simple. Small plates and finger foods will encourage guests to socialise and also try different flavours with your selected wines. This is key, and where possible should be encouraged as it’s fascinating to discover how different wines pair with different foods.
Alternatively, should you be hosting a winemaker’s dinner or something similar, providing foods that generate a wow factor when paired with your chosen wines, can really help to enhance your offerings. Be mindful nonetheless to select foods that do not detract from the wines themselves, irrespective of the circumstances.
Food for thought…
Provide the right tools
In order for a wine tasting to be effective a few elements are key;
- Tasting booklets – A source of information as well as a place to make notes.
- Glasses – Too much is never enough! Try to allow for roughly 2 glasses per guest, however be mindful that some people may take more, and of course there are always breakages!
- Ice buckets/Ice – This will keep you from running to the fridge but don’t over chill your wines.
- Spittoons – An essential in any wine tasting. Make sure you provide enough, as they fill up quickly!
Miscellaneous – Don’t forget the little things! Pens, corkscrews, slow pours and jugs of water are all crucial.
At the end of the day, you need to breakdown your event and tie up any outstanding tasks. It’s important that this is done efficiently and within the timings agreed with the venue. To ease the pressure I normally start a soft breakdown half hour before finish, just to make the task easier when the time comes.
At the close of the day, encourage guests politely to conclude their day. Then it’s all about working as quickly as possible.
Work with your staff/team to clean up and dismantle any physical equipment, banners, signage and surplus stock etc. You should be leaving your venue in the same condition as when you first arrived.
Once complete, thank staff for a job well done; a small victory drink normally goes down well!
Review & follow-up
Evaluation of your event is a must. Gathering feedback can be done in a number of ways such as via an online survey, paper handouts or simply through conversations. The main thing here is timing – don’t wait too long after the event as people’s memories will fade.
Did things go well? How many potential new customers turned up? Any good write-ups? What didn’t work? What could we do better? The good stuff is great to hear but sometimes it’s better to focus on the negatives. Why? Well these are the things that need fixing, especially if you wish to repeat things in future.
Follow up with attendees & absentees. Thank them for coming and continue discussions if needed. For those who couldn’t attend, recap what they missed and let them know how to remain in contact. Regardless of whether they attended or not, a consistent follow up is key.