Food & Beverage
Virtual Event Revenue
Virtual Event Revenue
Attendee return rate
of attendees return to the next event
Janie Brooks Heuck
Brooks Wine is a family business with an ecological consciousness. Among wineries, their environmental commitment is unique—not only do they take a biodynamic approach to farming, but they’re also a certified B Corporation and a member of 1% for the Planet. “We still use small lot production, even though we've ramped up production significantly,” says Janie Brooks Heuck, Managing Director of Brooks Wine. Social responsibility is at the heart of everything they do.
A large part of how Brooks shares this mission—and their vintages—is through curated experiences. “We have a pretty robust events schedule for our onsite events,” says Janie. This includes dinners, pizza Fridays, and classes, alongside more traditional tours and tastings. But with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, these kinds of experiences were off the table.
“Prior to COVID-19, only thirty percent of our business was from our wine club, the rest came from our tasting room, and distribution across the country—mostly in restaurants,” says Janie. “When everything shut down in March, we immediately lost about seventy percent of our revenue.” They needed a way to recover the lost revenue—and fast.
First, they started to double down on their wine club. “We've worked really hard on growing our wine club,” says Janie. “That's made up of thousands of people. The pandemic couldn’t shut it down.” To make it more attractive, they added new benefits, including starting a referral program. But still, it wasn’t enough.
“We really needed to create new revenue sources,” says Janie. That’s when they turned their attention to virtual events.
Early in the pandemic, Vin Social—a company providing accessible wine education through virtual events—asked Janie to join them as a guest speaker. “They wanted to partner with a winery because they like to feature the actual people behind the scenes and not just the wines,” says Janie. She was delighted by the experience, which was hosted on Welcome—her first introduction to the platform.
Janie had already been working on creating her own virtual events program called “Beyond Brooks.” Here’s how it works: Each month, Brooks Winery partners with a different artisan producer to create a fun and educational virtual tasting experience. Attendees purchase a tasting kit that always includes two bottles of Brooks wine, plus artisanal goodies from the featured presenter—past kits have included fine cheeses, biodynamic ciders, and kombucha, just to name a few. “The idea behind that was, let's find some opportunities outside of wine to work with other companies and cross-market our companies to each other's mailing lists,” Janie says.
“What I really loved about Welcome was that it was presenting itself as a new opportunity. It wasn’t a platform trying to reinvent itself to adjust to the COVID situation.”
When it came down to choosing a platform for this new channel, Janie had her mind made up. “I had done a zillion virtual events on all the popular web conferencing platforms,” she says. “What I really loved about Welcome was that it was presenting itself as a new opportunity. It wasn't a platform trying to reinvent itself to adjust to the COVID situation. It was creating a great virtual events platform for the long term.”
The results have been everything Janie was hoping for—and more. For starters, they’ve broadened their reach. While Brooks Wine’s in-person events were attended mainly by locals, her new virtual events series draws attendees from all over the country. Janie’s even expanded her team, hiring another person to help run these virtual tastings.
“The best feedback I have is how many people have signed up for multiple events. They really enjoy the platform and I always hear them say it’s like nothing they’ve ever seen.”
But the best results of all are how much people love coming back. “The best feedback I have is how many people have signed up for multiple events,” says Janie. Since starting Beyond Brooks, a whopping 113 people have come back for a second (or third, or fourth) time. Janie says that’s thanks in no small part to Welcome. “They really enjoy the platform and I always hear them say that it’s like nothing they've ever seen,” she says.
“Virtual events aren’t going anywhere. They’re here for the long run for sure.”
Whatever the future holds, Janie knows Welcome is going to be a part of her marketing toolkit for a long time to come. “I tell people it was like investing in a new website,” says Janie. “You don't do that without hoping that it's going to last you for a long time. When travel starts resuming, I still think it's going to be a great option because people's schedules are busy. Now people are able to do these events and bring in people from all over the country—it’s a huge opportunity.” She adds, “Virtual events aren't going anywhere. They're here for the long run for sure.”