When Spanish casual dining group Camino teamed up with Rías Baixas for a promotion on Albariño sales, little did waiters Jolanta Bulkowska and Jacopo Di Biase think that, in a matter of weeks, they would be jetted to sunny Galicia for a press trip that would give them first hand experience of everything that goes into making this popular wine.
The winner drinks it all: how two colleagues from Camino managed to win the Rías Baixas promotion
Camino is a Spanish tapas restaurant that has six bases in London and is now in its ninth year of operation. It bigs itself up on authenticity and also a wine list that has won a number of awards.
Alison Dillon, a PR and marketing executive from Dillon Morrall with responsibility for Rías Baixas, the Spanish region well know as the home of Albariño, saw Camino as the natural partner for a promotion that aimed to increase awareness and sales of the wine.
“Our objective was to increase awareness of Albariño from Rías Baixas as a top white wine from Spain so working with Camino meant we were already targeting people who have an interest in Spain – so that’s half the job done,” explains Dillon
“The next part was to ‘put glasses in hands’ of Camino’s customers via mechanisms such as a ‘by the glass’ promotion coupled with a staff incentive. We ran a staff training session on Rías Baixas prior to the promotional period and staff were given the opportunity to win one of two places on a visit to the region dependent on their sales.”
Four Albariños were promoted by the glass and the promotion was flagged up on the Camino website and by tent cards in the six Camino outlets.
The motivating effect of the promotion
Although Camino’s customers have an interest in Spain, Jolanta Bulkowska, a waitress at the Monument site found that not everyone knew about Albariño.
“Personally I recommended Albariño to all customers who wanted white wine, but I find that people do not know much about Spanish wines, specially white, so at first it was quite challenging,” she says.
Waiter Jacopo Di Biase also had to go through a learning curve
“To be honest I didn’t know so much about Albariño but as the promotion went on so I started to believe in it day by day, selling it, asking customers what they thought and finding out new information about it to improve my storytelling in front of the customers,” he says.
“I created a mantra which was that ‘If a table in my section wants white wine, it has to be Albariño.’ My technique was to create a personal connection with the customer when they first arrived in the restaurant and propose the Albariño before they had chance to look at the menu. The timing of the proposal was key.”
Albariño is a terrific wine to drink with seafood and making this connection with the customer also played into Jacopo’s hands.
“I tried to connect the ocean with the wine on an emotional level and it really worked.”
Although competition in the restaurants was fierce, Jolanta and Jacopo found the prize of a three day media trip to Rías Baixas a real motivation. But they managed to get the necessary sales of the wine and won.
On the trip they visited the HQ of Rías Baixas DO, visited a number of wineries, ate lots of authentic Spanish food as well as sampled a lot of Albariño.
So, since the trip, what have they learnt and brought back into the workplace?
“The trip showed me that Albariños can be so different from each other and now I really understand why – there are so many different sub-regions with different characteristics, the size of the plots of land, the people who own it and their pride in what they are doing… this all makes Albariño so unique,” says Jolanta.
“I will always sell it as something really special.”
For Jacopo too, his relationship with the wine has become more much more profound.
“You have to consider that for most people they don’t have a deep knowledge about wine and its detailed charcateristics, so now I am way more prepared to talk about the wine with customers that don’t have any knowledge and I am better equipped to talk about Albariño with customers who do have a good wine knowledge.”
“My learning increased 360 degrees. Having seen the Rías Baixas region first hand it has given me the information I need to be able to connect the magnificence of the region with the wine to create an emotional response in the customer.”
As for physical sales, sales of Albariño increased by 63% year on year.
“So everyone was happy,” Dillon says.