In my recent BDN Blog post, I pointed out that there are misconceptions about the use of alcohol and wine in selling room nights. Unfortunately, many new Airbnb and bed and breakfast owners are not aware that they should not be so casual when offering wine to their guests. The use of wine in marketing rooms can be beneficial in sales, but it can also open a property owner up to liability and misleading guest expectations. Wine, Revenue Strategy, Airbnb, Bed and breakfast are not usually terms linked together, but in this post, I hope to convey that you can successfully market wine and generate a revenue stream for any lodging property.

Here are my guidelines for using wine in marketing to increase revenue

  1. Do the numbers.There are fees associated with having wine on your property. In addition to the actual stock cost, you have licensing fees, storage fees, taxes, and insurance and management fees. There could also be certification fees for safe serve liquor and food. When you do your cost analysis, gather all these figures from the state and the town.
  2. You have all the expenses now, how much do you think you will sell? There are some industry strategies for successful retail. One of the most important components of sales is Traffic. You need traffic to sell an item. If you have limited people visiting your property, there less of a chance of actually selling anything. Successful stores have their storefronts in areas that have high traffic. Be realistic about sales. I do not want to dissuade you from selling wine because you do not have a lot of physical traffic if you keep reading you will see that you can generate other types of traffic by using your email campaigns and welcome letters.
  3. Does your property management system have a component to sell amenities? Does your reservation system have a line item in the check out to add wine? Does that property management system know the difference between the sales tax and the lodging tax? Does that system have a report for dividing the sales into different accounts? These are important questions to think about before you dive into the liquor sales world.
  4. If you give away complimentary bottles of wine, how many guests do you think you can woo with a “free” bottle of wine. What is the packaging that you will create? You will have to be very creative to market a wine experience at your property. Some fun package titles are Summer and Sip and the Great Grape Escape. You will have to determine your audience and cater to them. In addition to finding wines that your specific tribe will enjoy in their lodging package, you need to find wines that the local wine shop does not carry. If you offer a wine at your inn and then the guest sees it in the downtown, there might be some resentment for the difference in price.
  5. Can you be a property that has a guest reward program? Innkeepers are known to go above and beyond for their guests. The Innkeeping lifestyle attracts people that enjoy hosting and celebrating. Most innkeepers struggle with what to do when they learn that one of their guests just got married or engaged. The natural instinct is to give them a present. A customary wedding or engagement present is wine or champagne. A bottle of bubbly is very festive. If this is a tradition that you would like to uphold at your property, then you should plan for it in your business plan. Make it an expense and have bottles of wine and champagne on hand to give out when you learn of guests good news. You will have to be consistent with your generous gifts because when the great reviews come in, future guests will have expectations.
  6. Can your property host big events such as weddings? The only way I could justify having a liquor license in my 8 room inn was that I could host weddings. If you have ever been apart of wedding planning you know that the money is to be made in the liquor. I did not know how to cater food for 150 people, but I sure could do the math for the liquor. Hosting the bar at a wedding is a great opportunity to add to the bottom line. If you can host big events several times a year, you will have the opportunity to move big quantities of beer and wine. You can also charge for the labor, storage, and planning. There will be another blog post about specifics to a great Inn wedding or event bar. If you have the ability to host big events, learn about the different liquor licenses and safe serve options in your state. This could be a real money maker.
  7. Can you touch your guest at least 3 times with at least 3 options before they get to your property? It will be important to educate your guests about the carefully curated wine selection you have at your Inn. You should reach out to the client at least 3 times before they arrive with options. A strategy could be 3 separate emails, I a month out, 1 a week out and one the day before. If you are not set up for multiple emails, you will need to make sure the wine webpage you have on your website is optimized, you have a section on your Facebook page for menu items, and have glamour images of wine fun on Instagram. Do you have a PR connection that can write about your wine packages? There are many ways to plant the seeds of a sale in your guest. Ideally, it would be preferred to get your client to order the wine at the time of making the reservation. Make sure your PMS has an option to line item a bottle of wine or package. You should have at least 3 options in your offer. There is usually a low price, middle price and a high end priced item. You might have to experiment with pricing during your season to optimize revenue.
  8. Can you present the wine selection is a way guests will want to buy it? When selling any kind of merchandise, you have to remember to present your items in a way that is tasteful, engaging and easy. Is there a place in your property that guests can handle wine and inspect it before they buy? Do you have a place that is monitored all the time so guests do not just walk away with a bottle without paying? You have an obligation to monitor the alcohol on your property, it is not good practice to leave bottle unattended. If you do not have a proper display case, you might have to reconsider the display option. If you have the perfect spot for them, then make sure the guest clearly gets the information and pricing they need to make a sale smooth and easy.
  9. Be realistic, Are you ok around large quantities of alcohol? I ask this because you must know yourself and your staff to have a safe and healthy revenue relationship with wine. Both you and your staff will be looking at cases and cases of wine every day. If anyone in the equation has a history of alcohol abuse, there can be terrible consequences. Try to be honest and understanding of substance abuse issues. It is advised to have all alcohol locked up and out of site from staff and any possible underage children that are in the property. There is a huge responsibility that comes with hosting liquor at your property. TAKE IT SERIOUSLY!
  10. If this is overwhelming and you still want to do it… You can now hire SuiteRev to create and implement your Wine Strategy. Call Today!
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