We are living in interesting times. The impact on the hospitality business is unprecedented. In light of the unique circumstances we find ourselves in, we thought it would be helpful to gather learnings and insights from industry veterans in hopes that we can help each other out. Have stories and insights to share? Let us know at email@example.com
GranMonte Vineyard and Winery is located in Asoke Valley, Khao Yai, approximately 2 hours’ drive from bustling Bangkok, Thailand. GranMonte Vineyard and Winery has a unique business structure, which consists of a 10,000-case winery, tasting rooms, guest house and full-fledged 120 seat restaurant, all scattered about a 36-acre vineyard. The 36 acre Vineyard has planted international grape varietals like Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chenin Blanc, Viognier, Verdelho, Durif (Petite Sirah) and Grenache. Award-winning GranMonte Vineyard and Winery is a family business founded by visionary Visooth Lohitnavy, his wife, Sakuna, and daughters, Nikki and Mimi.
By Mimi Lohitnavy, the Director of Marketing and Public Relations, GranMonte Vineyard and Winery
Our business is roughly two-prong: one part is strictly focused on producing and selling wine, and the other part is in tourism and hospitality. Both are unfortunately being affected by the current downtime. For our wines, we sell the most at our cellar door, and second to that is the distribution to 5+ star hotels and restaurants throughout Thailand. This is impacted by the swift decrease in tourism, though we can see that from small local restaurants to large hotel chains, everyone in the industry is trying their best to continue their business even with fewer customers. For our own wine tourism at the vineyard, we definitely are receiving fewer visitors both locally and overseas.
There are many levels of responses we can make and have made so far.
Tourism and Hospitality side
- In terms of immediate response to cleanliness and safety to make sure that our visitors are safe, we implement temperature measuring for visitors and employees.
- Distribution of hand sanitizers throughout the vineyard.
- We clean all surfaces in frequent intervals, and other standard responses that a small business like ours can do.
Understanding your customer
On the tourism side, there isn’t much use to inject promotions, deals, etc right now when visitors both locally and overseas are stopping their physical travels for the time being. People from Bangkok including expats still came to spend time at our vineyard these past weekends, but as the situation is still unfolding (and most likely worsening) we cannot expect the trend to continue.
We have to understand each segment of our visitors (for example, local Thai visitors, Japanese expat visitors, visitors from China, from neighbouring countries, from Europe etc. which are all different) and anticipate which group will recover faster and resume their travels before the others. Only then can we start to design what it is that they might want, what their concerns and limitations might be after having gone through this situation, and what would draw them back and quickly.
Buyers and Business Partners
- On the wine selling side, we, as a supplier, extend credit terms to the businesses that need it.
- As a show of care and solidarity to our hotel and restaurant buyers, we gift them hand sanitizers when our sales team visits them – it’s a small gesture that we believe helps to keep the good relationships going in this difficult time.
Quick adaptation of Digital Strategy
- We are also finding ourselves accelerating our digital strategy much more than we had planned – it’s neither easy nor cheap for a business our size, but the need is becoming urgent. We have online retail, but currently on a third party marketplace, and our first step is to inject much more promotions and variety to our offerings for greater visibility.
- The second step, which we are about to take, is to seriously develop our own e-commerce system and subscription services.
What we are doing, for the time being, is operating as normal, reducing some part-timers (but still maintain our regular staff), and working on future promotions that will be implemented once people start travelling again.
On Improving and Innovating
We are also taking this time to focus on our core capabilities: R&D and production. GranMonte is the strongest when it comes to the actual production of wine and the know-how attached to it, and that is where our advantage lies. While we are less distracted by other parts of our operation, we have this opportunity to do more with production – mainly product development and experimentation. We have quite a few things in the works, and we’re taking this unexpected downtime to really go in on what we’re good at. We will have new products lined up and ready to go, hopefully when the market finds its feet again.
Advice to Others
In a situation that quickly becomes a crisis to many, a quick response to safety and a show of care towards our stakeholders (customers, business partners, employees) is the first thing to do.
Keep good relationships going even if you’re not currently making sales at the moment because everyone is in a difficult spot.
Focus on your core capabilities and work on back-end things in preparation for the future.
Have a digital strategy – that one is VERY necessary for many reasons beyond the current situation at hand, though it’s not going to be easy for us or most small businesses.
We can’t speak on the financial side of things for others, of course, because establishments are in varying positions when it comes to cash and financial preparedness, and we just hope that everyone gets through this together.
By Mimi Lohitnavy, Director of Marketing and Public Relations, GranMonte Vineyard and Winery
Have stories and insights to share? Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org