When was the last time you were at an event and you walked away from the bar talking about the wine? It’s hard to get excited about the same old selection you see ubiquitously at every one of “these things,” right?
If you’re like the corporate planners we polled this summer, the last thing you want is for guests to consider your event run of the mill. In fact, if you’re like them, you want your event to be memorable for the right reasons – with guests actively participating, having fun and connecting with each other.
You want your event to be fresh and add value.
Did you know wine selection is a key tool for making your event a success?
Let’s take one of our venue partners for example, a top-notch, full-service operation that must create stand-out events time and again to be successful.
They rightfully pride themselves not only on their immaculate space and thoughtful approach in planning, but also the farm-to-fork food experience they deliver. Their wine list needed to follow suit.
Called upon to help, we saw a unique opportunity to set them up for success – not only in working with their clients, but also by ensuring their wine list would pay itself forward to guests’ event experiences.
Why? Analysis Paralysis is an Event Killer.
People (guests) who find themselves in unfamiliar territory are overwhelmed by too much choice. And people who consider themselves in the know become distracted by too many options (whether good ones, or more often, stuck determining the ‘best of the worst’). At an event, while the bar line grows and grows, conversation among party-goers becomes awkward as people fight their decision demons. Guests become stressed and just want to get back to the people they already know and the larger festivities. A key networking and guest-engagement opportunity is lost.
So we retooled their custom list aiming to:
a) Streamline offerings, which even novice clients (like many guests) could comfortably choose from;
b) Offer wine options that would stir the interest and enthusiasm of guests when they saddled up to the bar – and as they headed back to the festivities;
c) Creatively reflect their brand.
From here our partner was ready and able to work with their own clientele to create a winning guest experience. In effect, their custom wine list became their secret weapon.
As in the example above, you can – and should – use your wine selection to bring additional creativity to bear, get people engaging (in and outside of the bar line) and underscore your brand or event in a fresh, subtle way.
How do you go about it?
Streamline Selections, aka Operate in Technicolor. While guests may not know the ins and outs of wine, they do know which color they prefer. Offer just one of each style: a white and a red, with one festive sparkling wine for good measure. That’s your flight of what we call “House Wines” – Analysis Paralysis abated.
Pique Curiosity. Skip the Italian Pinot Grigio, California Chardonnay or Pinot Noir and the Argentine Malbec. You get the idea – these are the predictable options. Offer choices that have familiar nuances, but that guests might not ordinarily come across. Guests who consider themselves in the know try something new (or are excited to enjoy something they recognize isn’t often an option) while novices just enjoy for the sake of enjoyment.
Hint: Blends from France, Spain and Italy are often a wonderful starting point, or seek out wines from lesser-known countries like Austria (whites) or Lebanon (reds). Don’t hesitate to ask for guidance, or get outside help. Your local wine shop is a great resource to solicit input on lesser known crowd-pleasers.
Unleash Your Creativity. Once you’ve decided on the wines, facilitate fun organically by renaming each selection in a spirited or meaningful way that will get folks engaging in line – and afterwards, with their choice in hand. Try playing-off of branding or corporate culture elements. Or use the excuse to celebrate (or roast?) particular staff members or departments. Want to detach a bit from work? Give the selections personas – like “Nuanced & Daring – Red” and “Lively & Luxe – Bubbly” for the sparkling wine.
Bottom Line: Wine naturally adds levity – and a traditional bar set-up offers an opportunity for guests from all corners to connect as they make their way to your Libation Station. By being both more deliberate in choosing a focused selection of your own House Wines and more playful in how you present them, you make things less fussy – and more fun – for guests.