Wine and travel go hand-in-hand. For those of us who love a good bottle of our favorite (or maybe an undiscovered favorite!) wine, no journey or evening meal are complete without a glass of the nectar of the gods. So it comes as no surprise that many of your guests also love a great bottle of wine.
Regardless of a traveler's budget, there are great wines out there today from around the world. But this isn't a column about wine, per se, and The B&B Team doesn't recommend (officially) any wine at all. However, we love to talk about service, ingenuity, and personalization in the travel industry, so I enjoyed reading a recent article in the Wine Notes section of the Wall Street Journal called, "Bringing Your Own to Fine-Dining Places." It seems even the toniest restaurants are having to be creative in this challenging economy.
Most people know that if you want to (and are allowed to) take a special bottle of your own wine to a restaurant, you'll pay a (sometimes hefty, even punitive) corkage fee to have the sommelier open it for you. That hasn't completely changed, but there is writing on the wall.
Dorothy Gaiter and John Brecher write, "More and more restaurants are offering special deals on wine – 50% off on Mondays, say. But we were looking out for something more – BYOB with no corkage at top-notch places." As it turns out, they found a few experimenting with a range of variations from "corkage-free" specials to discounted wines on otherwise slow nights, or even every night. The goal was to encourage folks who might otherwise stay home or go somewhere less pricey to dine with them and save on the cost of wine. Danny Meyer of the Modern restaurant in Manhattan is quoted saying, "We decided … there would be a graciousness behind it, that you would actually flatter us bringing in something from your cellar to have with our food and hospitality. We decided that if we did this, we have to actually go overboard to demonstrate our appreciation."
Does this sound familiar to innkeepers? It should, because those of you who make your living offering gracious hospitality are experimenting with variations on this theme to generate business. Stay three nights, get the fourth free. Stay with us five times, and your sixth stay is 50%. Book our best room for Friday and Saturday, and we'll include a gift card for our favorite restaurant (or maybe a bottle of your favorite wine). You get the picture.
Creative packaging is all about adding value and personalizing, recognizing that creating an incentive to spend time/money with you can generate win-win scenarios, whether it's no corkage fee for your wine while at a fine dining restaurant or special promotions and add-ons to stimulate the desire to book a night at your bed & breakfast now.
Are there any great restaurants in your area offering a deal on wine or "no corkage Mondays?" Do I hear "weeknight rooms?"