Vinpro recently hosted a two-part Direct to Consumer (DTC) Sales and Marketing workshop in collaboration with Robin Shaw & Traci Ayris of Wine Tourism Australia. The workshop aimed to present a practical, targeted session that draws on the content in the South African Wine Tourism Toolkit (SAWTT), developed by Robin last year.

Vinpro tourism manager, Marisah Niewoudt

Last year, Vinpro hosted four workshops with the aim to continue the sessions in 2020. Unfortunately Covid happened and the workshops moved online. “It’s a continuation of the toolkit rollout but we asked people what they want to learn. During the pandemic, DTC became even more important so the timing was perfect.”

The workshop, hosted via Zoom, included themes such as developing an effective DTC marketing strategy, understanding current global tourism, travel and consumer trends, identifying key target markets, and more.

Online platforms critical

Due to Covid, the only channel that remained accessible after March was ecommerce. “Tasting rooms were closed and South Africa experienced two domestic sales bans coupled with a short period where exports were banned.”

According to Marisah it was critical for wineries to sell online because even if they couldn’t deliver wines they were able to generate income. That’s why it was necessary to equip them with skills to improve their business models.

Furthermore, wineries that were well equipped for online/DTC did well and were able to sell online. These wineries also saw a huge increase in sales.

Last year attendees flagged DTC because it’s popular in the United States, Canada and Australia. In contrast, South Africans don’t buy as much online as Americans. “Although there are many factors involved, we realised there was a gap for people to learn more about DTC. And it’s a good way for them to do it because margins are profitable.”

Practical skills 

The goal of the workshop was to provide wineries with at least five key takeaways of practical measures they can implement in their business. “I want them to have tools to generate revenue, and attendees are excited to implement what they’ve learnt.” We wanted to give attendees something that was fit for purpose and fit for their business, she says.

For Marisah, the highlight was when wineries realised all the possibilities. “We received very good feedback from delegates, such as: ‘the timing was great’, ‘this is going to help me so much’, or ‘we’re redesigning our website so this was extremely timely for us.'”

Next for tourism?

Marisah is currently working on a skills audit and will conduct Zoom presentations to introduce wineries to this opportunity and encourage participation.  “We really want wineries to participate so that they can upskill their employees.”


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