By Adam and Larry Mogelonsky

Heading into budget season for next year, there’s a lot of uncertainty as to how hotel executives can best divide the bucket amongst labor, equipment and capital investments. The industry is still in a recovery period from the pandemic and possibly entering a recession with all of the implied knock-on effects for travel numbers. It’s a forecasting disaster. While hardly a panacea to this complex scenario, we hope that this passion of ours can be a profit center for your property.

Anyone who has chatted or worked with us knows that wine is our favorite alcoholic beverage. In essence, it’s just fermented grape juice with an ABV range of roughly 9-16%, and yet bound by those constraints are a world of flavors, stories and experiences. The more you learn about wine, the more you realize you don’t know jack. It’s this ceaseless sense of discovery that, when done right, will halo onto restaurant revenues as well as your leisure packages, room service, banquet event orders, arrival amenities or anywhere else where beverages can be sold.

Why wine now? There’s no debating that staffing is a critical challenge at the moment (and by our predictions for rest of the decade), as is enhancing your technology in all manner of automations and digitalizing guest service improvements. But having a solid wine strategy can help to drive TRevPAR – the total revenue you capture from each and every guest.

Again, wine isn’t the silver bullet to ensure profitability, but an important element within a grander effort of maximizing guest satisfaction through heightened property utilization. That is, we know through commissioned studies, our own data and through pure anecdote that the more a guest uses a hotel’s services and amenities, the happier they are and the more likely they are to leave a positive review or recommend a friend. If offering a great selection of niche vintages or champagne upon arrival can enhance the onsite experience, then why not?

In this sense, asking ‘why wine now’ is akin to pondering ‘why TRevPAR now’. With the potential for a ‘normalization’ of travel numbers heading into a recession year, to keep 2023’s topline at pace with the gangbuster that is 2022, you need to buttress every head in bed that comes your way with any add-ons and experiential offerings that increase the per-folio amount.

  • What convinces a restaurant patron to opt for the most expensive wine by the glass instead of the cheapest one?
  • How does menu presentation and server training affect a restaurant’s ability to sell the luxury bottles on the wine list?
  • How does the story behind each winery influence its pricing?
  • Is it better to stock obscure vintages and varietals or stick with the more well-known producers?
  • How does ‘anchor pricing’ impact wine sales or any beverage for that matter?
  • What tactics can you take to use wine to incentivize hotel packages?
  • What tactics can you take to boost wine-oriented arrival amenity purchases?
  • How do you evaluate your sommelier’s ability to sell wine?
  • How can you use wine to motivate servers in order to keep them around?
  • What can you do to transform each wine purchase into a memorable experience?

These are a few of the questions we attempt to answer in our latest book, “In Vino Veritas: A Guide for Hoteliers and Restaurateurs to Sell More Wine” (2022). The key word in this longwinded title is ‘more’; we assume your F&B director has all the basics covered, with this book as the tips and tricks to make your beverage revenues sing.

The principle throughout is to figure out how to increase wine sales in aggregate. If you can do that, then you can apply those lessons to any other part of your operations that will drive TRevPAR, be it spa, golf, parking, room service, gift shop, laundry or activities facilitated through neighborhood partnerships. And if nothing else, this book will deepen your knowledge of this millennia-old elixir so that every glass becomes all the more enjoyable.