Paving the Way to DC’s Wine Country | Reston Limo

LWMJanFeb2015-smallfinal_Page_27How Reston Limousine CEO Became The Wine Tour Lady

It’s a new year and with it comes new beginnings! I am looking forward especially to a year of celebrating 25 years in business and another banner year of innovative business strategies across the company. As I look back, I have to say that one of the most innovative strategies was the launching of our winery tours.

After 9/11, my business, along with many others, was at a standstill. I decided wine tours would be a great way to get my buses out on the road on the weekends since they were used only during the week on government contracts. The only way to really maximize my assets is to keep them on the road.

Two friends and I made a plan to visit nine wineries in one day. We made appointments with the owners. Our goal was to make sure the buses would fit in the driveways. We had agreed that we would not drink any wine so we could stay focused and get to nine of them in one day.

At the first winery, we ran into Chris Pearmund who is one of the most amazing and accomplished winemakers in our state. He has traveled the world searching out the best winemaking techniques in France, Italy, Spain, Australia and South Africa. His wine is magnificent. He insisted we try the wine at the first stop!

To make a long story short, we drank a lot of wine that day. We got horribly lost off the beaten track! By the end of the day, we were convinced that wine tours would be a gold mine!

I had no money for marketing so what I did was create a “public wine tour.” For $35 anyone could buy a seat on a bus and visit three wineries. There was an optional picnic lunch for an extra $15.

Since I belonged to 10 chambers/organizations/associations, my marketing plan was to donate a wine tour for two to each of these organizations each month. I gave away 240 wine tours annually. I also invited strategic groups out to wine country with me to showcase the beautiful experience that I had discovered. I was probably personally hosting two wine tours per month.

It took two years to make a profit on wine tours. Two years into this new market segment, the Washington Post rode my tour and wrote a fantastic article! That article alone kept my public wine tour full for the next three years! Today our business has grown along with the number of wineries in the area, now branded as DC’s Wine Country. I have 20 buses in wine country on Saturdays and Sundays, and our winery tours have won Virginia Wine Lovers People’s Choice awards for the last several years. We’re continuing the tradition of innovation with our new brewery tours, which were launched early last year. Just like the winery tours, we were the first transportation company to offer brewery tours on a large scale to the public.
And like our winery tours, we pride ourselves on the strong relationships we have cultivated with the craft breweries and wineries in our regions.

We are looking forward to another 25 years of innovation in our business operations!

By Kristina Bouweiri
Reston Limousine

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