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Back in the early 1990s, I was living in San Francisco, and one of my favorite getaways was a drive up to Sonoma’s wine country. In those days, Sonoma was relatively unknown. There were no celebrity chefs or Michelin-starred restaurants, just plenty of great farms, country stores and, of course, some of the best wines in the world.
In this issue’s cover story, “California Vintage” (page 10), we take an insider’s look at the wine country of Northern California. The destination has certainly changed over the years, and it’s become a hugely popular, must-see stop for foodies all over the world. As the story states, “Northern California’s wine country is to the U.S. what Provence is to France and Tuscany is to Italy. It represents the good life ....”
At about the same time that we were working on the cover story, we were putting together one of our live Connection webinars. The topic for this particular webinar was group travel, and the experts that were online with me confirmed that small-group travel can be immensely profitable for travel agents. We discussed the need for agents to find and cultivate a clientele that are passionate about a subject and identify with a niche group. Wine aficionados are one such group. (Visit TAWGroupConnection.com to hear an archived version of the webcast.)
In fact, wine lovers share a lot of traits that agents often look for in clients. Generally speaking, they are sophisticated, interested in destinations all over the world and they often have some discretionary income. Also, food and wine lovers value experiences more than objects — they understand that an evening sharing a great meal provides memories to cherish. Of course, travel is all about the value of experiences and making memories.
As you read this issue’s cover story, you might start thinking of ways you can develop a wine-loving travel group of your own to enhance your business. There are certainly plenty of wonderful experiences to be had in Northern California as well as all over the world.