Tour operators come in 2 kinds: ones who come with expert guides and those who need the staff to do the talking. \n
During low season, this is the time for the person responsible for tourism to be working online and in other avenues for developing new ideas for the coming season. \n
There is no replacement for your staff knowing your product. Period. \n\nMuch like the number of press releases I&#x2019;ve received with INCORRECT technical information about wine because the person who wrote it had no idea what they were talking about.\n
Roles in wine tourism & how they functionIn-house winery staﬀIncoming tour operatorsIndependent local tour guides
Considerations for Hiring People should be hired for their personalityand the ability to communicate. This should take precedence over ANYqualiﬁcation or degree they may already have. Hiring for a tourism role should be long-term,not seasonal.
Why?Facts and processes can be learned personality and friendliness cannot!Pay attention to their credentials if they have them already Tourism initiatives should not ONLY be executed during high-season
Don’t just take my word for it...Opinions from LinkedIn
“The skilled factor is vital as having the rightlevel / amount of knowledge is one thing, but the ability to put it across to consumers and the trade in an enthusiastic, passionate and entertaining way is something else!!”
“ In Europe, we feel that wine is intrinsically linked to theculture and culinary traditions of the region in which itsgrown. So its important to present it to guests in thatmanner, in a cultural context. This also gets across anotherimportant point to guests: that wine is about enjoyment,pleasure and conviviality! A great wine tour guide knows howto impart a sense of cultural context, pleasure andconviviality to guests that makes their trip an authenticexperience of the region theyre visiting, and highlymemorable!”
“...we have found that its essential to have a guide who is highlyknowledgeable about wine, but who also has two other very importantqualities: 1) experience working with tourists, and 2) impeccable customerservice skills. Guiding a wine-oriented tour is not the same as giving a wineclass.You have to know how to provide information tailored to each person,as some guests will have a great deal of wine knowledge and want verydetailed, high-level information, while others have less knowledge (andinterest) and will want a shorter, simpler answer.There are also times to talk, and times to just let the clients enjoy the sceneryor the meal. Guiding is sometimes about teaching, and a lot about helping theclients have a great time on their tour. Knowing how to provide greatcustomer service is terribly important. A wine expert who is incapable ofdealing with a client who needs to ﬁnd a pharmacy, or needs their room to bechanged because of an issue at the hotel, or any of the myriad of issues thatcome up during a tour, is not going to be a good guide.”
So is education important? YESA wine knowledgeable guide is prepared to givethe right amount of information to the tourist that wants to hear it.
Options for education?In-house staﬀ should have IN-HOUSE education.Quality control of the training is maintained and it isinexpensive In-house education is investing in your product and in along-term employeeThey should participate in all facets of the winemakingprocess on siteInclude this when they are interviewed for the job. Ifthey don’t want to get dirty, consider someone else
Outside CredentialsWine service (sommelier)Academic (journalist, author)
The Major Options Court of Master Sommeliers (International -London based) Wine and Spirit Education Trust(International - London Based) Associazione Italiana Sommelier (Italy)
Court of Master Sommelierswww.courtofmastersommeliers.org www.mastersommeliers.org Focused on wine knowledge and service Table side etiquette is taught and part of the examination Teaches wines of the world Must pass Certiﬁed at a certain score to be INVITED to sit the next level of qualiﬁcation.
Court Structure 4 levels: Introductory, Certiﬁed, Advanced,Master Sommelier Intro: 1 day REVIEW course, then exam No review course for Certiﬁed, just self study Advanced (if invited to sit): 3 day reviewcourse, 2 day exam
Pros & Cons: CourtVery rigorous program from the start Service examination could be an indication ofhow well service is executed in a tourismsetting Focus is restaurant, restaurant, restaurant Coursework is in English
Wine & Spirit Education Trust www.wset.co.uk Focused entirely on “bookish” wine knowledge. Service standards as studied as theory, not as practice Teaches wines of the world Introductory not required as admission to Advanced, Advanced required for admission to Diploma
WSET Structure5 levels: Simply named Level 1-5All have classroom instruction with tasting before examsLevel 1: for the absolute novice.Level 2: Introduction to wines: e.g. What and where isChardonnay?Level 3: 16 lesson course in-depth on wines of the worldLevel 4: MUST pass Level 3 to enter the programIntensive 3 year program with 6 units of exams
Pros & Cons: WSET Provides a theory base that can be applied towhat is being seen in the winery. Does not go into depth on practical service.(Is this needed for tourism or not?) Focus is reading, reading, reading. In English.
Associazione Italian Sommelier www.aisitalia.it Service and theoretical knowledge Focus on Italian wines (international winescovered but not as completely as others) 3 levels: 1, 2, 3 (brilliant!)
Pros & Cons: AIS Course entirely in Italian Food & Wine pairing is a major component ofLevel 3 Only really recognized in Italy Doesn’t have a broad scope on the wine world
In conclusion....Hire on ability and aptitude. The education will follow.