Wines and spirits can be verbally described, as brilliant experts worldwide prove every day. However, in order to be able to do so, they must have experienced the wines themselves. For sensory perceptions cannot be made second-hand. Is there lily of the valley in the bouquet? Does it feel velvety? Does the finish hold a surprise? How do grapes or botanicals affect the bouquet? For us as a beverage PR agency, it was clear from the first lockdown that the planned tastings could not be replaced. But we had to move the meeting to the digital realm. Is that possible, a tasting in the context of a Microsoft Teams meeting?
Without a business trip? With pleasure!
Account Director Hendrike Heitmann set up the tastings for ECCO Hamburg: "The digitalisation of events may seem impossible at first, especially in areas where enjoyment is important. But with the right preparation, it works wonderfully. First and foremost, this means that the participants should be provided with the wines or spirits in good time. Also we made sure that the expert behind the quality is part of the e-meeting, so that the relevant know-how was imparted with each sip - as in an established tasting.
In the end, this resulted in advantages for our customers: Due to the location-independent invitation, editors from all over Germany were able to attend and the circle of participants was larger - and thus also the subsequent reach. In addition, digitality makes the event much cheaper, because all travel is eliminated."
More participants and easier to organise with less financial input – so it's only the participants who lose out a little because they miss out on an event? "It wasn't perceived that way. The time savings made it possible for many of the participants to be there in the first place. And there was also an unusual goodie: the leftovers from wine, gin and co. can be enjoyed later in private." An undeniable benefit!
Behind the Scenes: Digital Tastings have Pitfalls
Of course, not everything remains the same. In terms of organisation and moderation, there are a few pitfalls compared to analogue tastings.
- In the run-up: Beverage deliveries have to be planned in time, home office addresses collected and, in the case of wine, a serving temperature provided.
- In terms of technology, there is an equivalent to travel planning: the link to dial in must be sent individually, if necessary, the counterpart needs tips on installation and handling in advance so that everything runs smoothly at the appointment.
- Group dynamics matter: Digital tastings should not exhaust their new potential. As in analogue meetings, they should not become too large so that interaction and individual questions remain possible.
- Some decisions must be made beforehand: A digital tasting needs a moderation and a dramaturgy. The language(s) to be used for communication must also be discussed. With this framework, the indirect character of the encounter is balanced. Here, the agency is called upon more than usual; the greeting in particular feels less natural than in real life, which is where brevity and a plan help. The same applies to technical breakdowns: Here we are challenged to do what we all started out with – to promote good communication.