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rachelrichards

I struggled with who to write about ever since I signed up for this pledge.  Knowing how noteworthy and valuable this series would be, I had to get it right.  Thanks to my addiction to political news and Rachel Maddow, I found Adria Richards.  She is now known for exposing lax or non-existent security on Norm Coleman’s website (R: Minnesota senate candidate) leaving over 50,000 donor credit cards vulnerable to fraud and theft.  Ms. Richards is an independent woman in technology, young, with vision and a political bent…for this post, she is perfect!  Check out more about Adria on her site: But You’re a Girl.Com (I love that site name.)

Quoting directly from her About Me page: “Women often get the short end of the stick when it comes to technology. People’s perceptions of what she’s capable of and interested in affect her opportunities and earnings. I know I’m not the only female in technology who is sick of pink laptops and rhinestone cell phones. I’m going to blog about things I enjoy in the technology world and gripe about the frustrating things in a constructive way.”

And:

I could not be more proud to be a working woman in this time and place right now.  People like Adria Richards with her focus, determination, courage and brilliance inspire me to do more, be more, reach for more.  I love that she has a running list of goals on her web site.  And she’s crossing them off one by one.  Her sharp and gentle savvy are a breath of fresh air.  It is my honor to share with you this Woman in Technology: Ms. Adria Richards.

Photo & Video courtesy of Ms. Adria Richards website.

AND:

* http://findingada.com
* http://www.pledgebank.com/AdaLovelaceDay
* http://twitter.com/FindingAda
* http://groups.yahoo.com/group/findingada
* http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=47550446005

winebook3winner

I’m enjoying my way through this book:  Vintage Humor for Wine Lovers by Malcom Kushner.  I’ll offer a review soon, but until I’m done, I’d like to offer you an excerpt I just love.  Have a great wine this weekend.

If Famous Authors & Comedians Wrote About Wine

Dr. Seuss on Champagne

I do not like it

Cham-I-am.

I do not like that pagne of cham

It sends bubbles up my nose

And makes me vomit on my toes

I do not like that

Cham-I-am

Would you like it here or there?

I would not like it here or there

I would not like it anywhere

Would you like it in a flute?

I would not like it in a flute

And even Horton wouldn’t give a hoot

Would you like it if it’s old?

Could you like it if it’s cold?

I would not like it if it’s old

I could not like it if it’s cold

I would not like it here or there

I would not like it anywhere

I do not like that pagne of Cham

One great thing about the Wine Blog Awards is that, while many worthy blogs don’t win (for a great rant, check out Another Wine Blog‘s thoughts on these awards), there are some finalists and winners that gain exposure and I hope, garner more readership.  Or check out my list to the right here.  I say bravo to any tool that increases wine blogger readership.  Twitter is another place helping increase blogger readership (exposure) as does Mutineer Magazine.

Look how fun and sexy wine can be!  Wine blogs are too.sexywine

So what’s my point?  I’m digging for the tools that grow wine blogger readership.  That is, of course assuming that we’re talking about great blogs worth reading that are: educational, funny, relevant, well written, fascinating new perspectives, etc….you get the idea.  And why is that?  More people reading great blogs (free, BTW) about wine = more people curious, interested and excited about wine = more people talking about wine = more people enjoying wine.  If more people are enjoying wine then they are also enjoying each other…connecting.  Therefore:

  • Wineries should promote wine blogs.
  • Wine retailers should promote wine blogs.
  • Restaurants should promote wine blogs.
  • Post links to your favorite blogs on facebook…and update your list every 90 days.

And then…Drink More Wine.

Or, As our friends at Bin 36 like to say: “Drink Wine. Live Well. Have Fun.”

Any questions?

winetweet

facebook: fan or fail?

fbI have been on facebook for a while…maybe a year or two.  Several friends dragged me after I had already spent time assembling a MySpace page…also a year or two ago.  At first it seemed like a great place to semi-connect with friends and family through photos & messages.  Fast forward to today.  In addition to the hundreds of friends I have on my personal facebook page, I (co) manage a Fan page for Hahn Family Wines, Cycles Gladiator and Santa Lucia Highlands Wine Artisans.  I am fascinated to watch as people become fans, contribute photos, discussions, questions, and as the content fills out on these pages.

Did you know there is a Fan page for facebook?  It is packed with great information, it is easy to sort through and essential if you are an administrator for any fan or group pages.  We’re all still collaborating and working together (within the wine company and among fellow wineries) to figure out how best to use the facebook group and fan pages.  What kind of content is interesting to the fans?  What keeps them coming back to the fan pages?  And why?  How will these virtual gathering places bring value, content and wine interest that wine lovers want, need and keep current in their lives?  And the bniggest question:  Will they buy wine as a result?

find_us_on_facebook_badge

This is the first post in a series on facebook in the wine industry.  I have been to the facebook offices and met with my new friend Andrew who built News Feed for facebook (thanks Cortney Erin).  Andrew and I are working on a conversation for the Wine 2.0 event on April 2 to answer questions and walk wine industry guests through the “how to’s” and “why for” on facebook for wine lovers.  We know Gary V and facebook’s Dave Morin are hanging out …and further, facebook and Wine Library are in a partnership.  LOVE THAT!  Once again, anything that brings wine to a wider audience I am in favor of, indeed!  And leave it to Gary to convert the unconverted.  He has successfully uncorked facebook…there are no limits.

facebookwineSo the whole point of this post is to set up musings about facebook for businesses, groups and the wine industry…asking why?  What do you have to say about how you use facebook?  Do you participate in groups?  What for?  Community?  Information?  Facebook is doing an awesome job of staying ahead of the curve…redesigning the home page, adjusting status updates, offering feeds from blogs, twitter, flickr, and so on.  And what about facebook connect?  What will that mean for facebook interface, blog commenting, posting, etc?  We’ll find out much more about facebook connect when we sit down with Andrew on April 2 in San Francisco.

fbldb

I see a lot of potential here, both for users and for wineries on facebook.  Yet, a lot of the functionality, value and interest will be (like most successful Web 2.0 sites) user generated.  So is the wine community interested and engaged enough to participate on facebook when it comes to groups and fan pages?  That means both the industry, providing the fan pages and intital content AND the consumers, adding interest and content as they become more engaged.  Is there enough content and need or desire to bring people back to the Fan/Group pages again and again?  The great thing about wine is that it engenders social activity, conversation and participation.  Our industry is uniquely positioned to partner beautifully within social media, to  inform, educate and  connect…all in conversation about wine.  There are already dozens of wine groups and fan pages.  Check these out and let us know what you think.  And share additional wine group or fan pages in the comments section here as well.  There’s a lot we can learn from each other as we sort through this new meduim.  I find more to learn and additional ways to connect through social media, so I am thrilled the wine industry has found its way here.  Because as we have heard before: “Better relationships drive better business, period.” (Amber Naslund)

Cheers!

Photos courtesy of facebook and my Blackberry Storm and ICanHasCheeseburger.

iiznotalcohol

Go to Hurley’s Restaurant & Bar across the street.  Or go to Celadon or Allegria in Napa.  Or Mustard’s when they re-open.  I’m sad to say, however, that the new-ish, restaurant Bottega in Yountville couldn’t care less if you were there…and they act like it. Last night, my friends were trying to give Bottega a second chance having had such a mediocre experience previously.  It was my first visit.  We enjoyed bubbles and appetizers outside by a blazing fire where the restaurant offers “no service”.  We ordered at the bar and carried our own drinks, napkins, flatware, plates outside.   That was fine as the three of us were steeped in conversation and warmed fireside on a lovely, fresh, Napa spring night.  Our mistake was going inside.  A table in the bar opened up and we wanted to try a couple of the appetizers…with service.  Have I mentioned that Bottega is not cheap…not by a long shot.

customer_service1

I asked for a tawny port.  They gave me a ruby port…and told me it was a tawny port.  We ordered a salumi platter.  When we asked for details about what was on the plate (my friend has an allergy to cow meat…the kind that brings on vertigo and nausea, occasionally followed my temporary hearing loss), the server/bartender (?) said she didn’t know, identified half the plate  and went to find out the rest.  When she returned, she had mis-identified the pork and cow which my friend had already tasted.  Ugh!  Is it just me, or does it seem like too many places don’t seem to care at all about Word of Mouth, or customer service, or hospitality.

apathy

The restaurant was busy, but not packed.  No one else working there, the host, the other bartender or server, ever spoke to us.  It is too bad.   The ambiance was warm and friendly.  The service was so bad that our conversation was hijacked into sifting through the short list of restaurants in Napa that consistently offer good (or better) service.  Frankly, for the experience, we could have had similar service, (basically self service) at Taylor’s Refresher, with a smile, great food and at much less cost!  Disney has service right.  If only Napa hospitality took the Disney Training Program.  Extraordinary, personal, friendly, helpful and non-overbearing service is, such a breath of fresh air, and hard to find in Napa… But I can’t resign myself to such mediocre hospitality where I live! For now,  I will take my friends’ offers in Sonoma & Calaveras counties to visit their wineries and remember the pleasure of good customer service.  And when I’m in Napa, I’ll visit the few places that care to have you there.
Photos courtesy of Google images.

Hospitality = Heart

I don’t know if you can learn it, but I know you can’t fake it.  That’s what was missing on so many of the hospitality endeavors and even in the first attempted fix for a bad hospitality experience recently.  Heart.  You can also call it sincerity or personal touch, but ultimately, we humans are looking for a heart-felt connection in our daily experiences.  When anything goes wrong in customer service, there may be many logistics or problems with that service.  But when it comes to fixing that problem, the only way to truly win back that customer…is heart.  You can’t just do your job…you can’t phone it in.  Here’s another version of a Customer Service ~  ooops! (from 1WineDude in PA)

heart2

We have all had an experience at a winery, restaurant or hotel where everything was technically right:  we were greeted, we were taken care of and served as expected…but were left feeling flat.  It was hard to put my finger on what was missing, but a conversation with a winery friend that makes hospitality the cornerstone of their customer experience put the word to it for me.  It is the difference between just doing your job and creating a sincere, personal and heart-felt connection.  Heart is what elevates the experience from good to great.  The kind of great that makes you send your friends and family back for the same experience.  The kind of great that makes you go back over and over as well.  Chino Yip had it at First Squeeze when he owned that restaurant on First Street in Napa.  You couldn’t help but know he cared.  Greg Cole has it at Celadon.  The folks that work at the Roger Smith Hotel have that heart in their hospitality too.  You don’t have to be the owner, you just have to have ownership in your work.

Heart.  I say it is easier said than done.  Others think it is very easy once you know that heart or sincerity or the personal touch (whatever you call it) is the answer.  I wonder how much the people who train staff in hospitality talk about heart. What has made the difference in a customer service experience in your world?

Photo courtesy google images.

Fixing Bad Hospitality

Can you repair a Hospitality Fail?  Ok, you have to try anyway.  And I must give credit to Domaine Chandon for e-mailing me an apology and an offer to give us a better tasting experience. Here’s an excerpt from Chandon:

“On behalf of the entire hospitality staff at Domaine Chandon, I would like to thank you for your very powerful feedback and extend our most sincere apology in regards to your visit to our winery. I am absolutely shocked at the lack of attention that you and your guests were paid, and you are absolutely right in calling us out on it… we always aspire to provide each of our guests with world class customer service and with your group we obviously dropped the ball. I agree with you whole 100% that even a smile or an I’ll be right with you would have had a significant impact on your 15 minute downward spiral… I cannot speak as to what happened on Sunday, but I always appreciate the feedback and I always address the issues at once.

On a lighter note, we would really appreciate if you and your group would come visit us again our compliments.”

domaine_chandon

If you missed the terrible customer service story from last time, check out Hospitality Fail.   There are SO many wineries in northern California, and say I go this once and of course it will be …better, because they will be trying to fix the hospitality fail experience from our previous visit.  Then the next time I go (if I go) to Domaine Chandon, what then?  I’m worried about risking the same embarrassment with guests again.

Of course we will go back and let you know how that visit works out.  I do feel obligated to go and give them the opportunity to come full circle despite my hesitation.  Poor hospitality is an unfortunate by-product in areas where success, tourism and complacency collect…and sadly, Napa is sometimes one of those places.  In these bad economic times, complacency is a sure bet for failure.  The kind of customer service that makes the most difference is inexpensive and easy:  it is that personal touch that reminds your customer that they are important…beyond what they spend.  The business that can offer great customer service with a personal touch will gain my loyalty and my recommendation to all my friends and family.

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