Just like many industries around the globe, the Canadian meetings and events industry was hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Because of how contagious the virus has been, meeting in person was put on hold for an indefinite amount of time. So what does a business that relies on those in-person meetings do to survive?
It goes virtual!
That’s exactly what The Wine Sisters did to help pivot its business and make 2020 a lucrative year.
The Wine Sisters is Toronto’s leading sommelier services and wine events agency. It specializes in custom wine tastings, tours, and education. According to Erin Henderson, the company’s founder and chief sommelier, it deals with corporate groups and firms to help them with team building and client retention.
“We are a small company, but we are lucky enough to turn 10 this coming September,” Henderson said. “It was started by myself and my biological sister, who is also a sommelier. She has since taken a step back from the company and today I have a team of six freelance sommeliers who work with me.”
Henderson added that its team is trained to deliver first-class experiences to leading corporations and wine-lovers alike looking for a good time, and an engaging, dynamic event.
The Wine Sisters, like other event agencies around the globe, was looking forward to a number of projects at the beginning of 2020, however, all that went up in smoke with the COVID-19 pandemic.
“All of our 2020 plans sort of exploded thanks to the pandemic,” Henderson explained. “It all disappeared. At the same time, in late March, George Brown College – where I teach a wine course – also shut down. So in a few weeks, all my income streams had dried up, just like so many others in this industry. And in those early days, I didn’t know what to do.”
Henderson said then one day – while she was at home bored in lockdown, she decided to host an Instagram Live, as she is very active on her business’ social media platforms.
“And initially, I had this immediate fear of no one joining or liking what I had to say,” she said. “But then I got on, people started joining and I just started talking about some wines I was loving. And then a week later – I had people reaching out and messaging me asking if I would go live on a private Zoom meeting and host a tasting virtually for their companies.”
And so, Henderson did.
Today, you can hire The Wine Sisters to host a virtual wine tasting for your group of choice. And absolutely everything is customizable to suit your needs.
“So when someone calls us to host a virtual wine tasting, they have a lot of choice about how we can execute the event for them,” Henderson said.
For example, customers have the choice to host the event on their virtual platform or The Wine Sisters’.
Customers also have the choice to design the virtual event around a theme.
“For example, we hosted an event for a women’s association, and so the theme of the wine tasting was women-led wineries. We’ve also done a wine tasting that was centered around what wines go well with summer grilling,” Henderson explained.
And finally, customers have a choice on how the logistics will work.
The Wine Sisters can act as a vendor-only where they can recommend which wines to have for your virtual tasting, and they will take care of sourcing the wine, and shipping it to the guests. Another option includes The Wine Sisters sourcing the wines, packaging them up for you in impressive gift wraps, and custom totes. Delivery is also available for Toronto residents only. And the third option, which is more suited for international clients, is for The Wine Sisters to recommend which wines to buy, and then the client will send its guests a list of wines to buy for the event, along with enough money on a Visa gift card to purchase.
So far, Henderson said, the virtual tastings have been a massive hit with its clients.
“We’ve been getting amazing feedback,” she said. “Some have even told me it’s the best Zoom meeting they’ve ever had. So that’s been so encouraging and awesome for us.
“I’m just really grateful this has worked out for us. While 2020 had started off quite bleak for us, I think it might end up being one of our best years yet.”
To learn more about how you can book your virtual wine tasting with The Wine Sisters, visit their website at, https://thewinesisters.com/.