Partnerships and Personas of the Wine Industry, with Brittany Gibson

Episode 142

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Brittany Gibson is the Executive Director of the Seneca Lake Wine Trail. Her experience with wine began as Advertising Director and Wine Club Manager at Fulkerson Winery, a position she held for 10 years. In her previous capacity at the Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce, Brittany was responsible for promoting Schuyler County’s tourism industry by creating and implementing tourism marketing and public relations programs. She was also responsible for developing and implementing programs to increase the visibility and credibility of the Chamber. Brittany serves on the Finger Lakes Regional Tourism Council Board of Directors, the Finger Lakes Tourism Alliance Marketing Committee, the Schuyler County Planning Board, and the Community Development Corporation Board of Directors. She volunteers her time serving as the coordinator of her family’s charity organization, Team Charlie. On this episode of Destination on the Left, I talk with Brittany about the importance of partnership and “co-opetition” in promoting your destinations. Brittany explains how she sorts through the noise and keeps people coming back to Seneca Lake Wine Trail day after day.

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • Brittany’s experience of sorting through the noise and reaching the consumer as a travel marketer in the wine industry
  • The power of partnership and co-opetition in Brittany’s marketing strategies for wine and tourism
  • Why knowing your target audience and how to market to them is pivotal to your brand, with examples of Brittany’s “wine personas”
  • Leveraging state and private partnerships to advance your brand
  • Getting people engaged in your winery destinations, keeping them coming back, and growing your audience
  • Brittany’s best practices on helping partnerships function well and how to take charge in cooperative situations

Sorting Through the Noise

As destination marketers, Brittany and I are both very familiar with the noise that surrounds what we do and how it can hurt the connection between us and the consumer. For Brittany, it was important to realize that the brand and its mission were about the consumer and reaching them in a simplistic and user-friendly way. Since starting her new job, Brittany and her team have staged a large-scale digital media buy to significantly increase Seneca Lake’s exposure to the public. In addition, Brittany has helped to launch a new website for the wine trail, giving consumers the opportunity to explore the wines and locations they’d like to try out. In focusing her marketing efforts, Brittany has zeroed in on three distinct “wine personas” in Seneca Lake’s target audience. The first persona, the next-generation or millennial wine drinker, is the future of the wine tasting business. The second, the “wine is life” persona, covers 35- to 50-year-old women who love immersive wine experiences as much as the wines themselves. The third persona, the fine vintage wine drinkers, are baby boomers who know their wines inside and out.

The Power of Partnership

Market research, media buys, and web development aren’t easy to do alone. For Brittany, one of the most valuable assets to making all these works is the partnership network Seneca Lake has created. In growing Seneca Lake Wine Trail as a destination, Brittany has partnered with our very own Break the Ice Media to craft Seneca Lake’s message through social media and website content. Alongside our partnership, Brittany has built connections with restaurants, tourist attractions, and chambers of commerce all around Seneca Lake. Brittany believes that by leveraging co-opetition with public and private partners, she and her team have helped turn Seneca Lake into a true tourist destination, not just a series of wineries. Brittany’s network of partners collaborates extremely well. To form and maintain such strong partnerships and cooperation, Brittany tells our audience to take charge, trust their instincts, and have confidence in their experience to be successful. If you’re never afraid to learn and ask questions, your partnerships and business will flourish.


Nicole Mahoney: 00:24 Hello listeners, this is Nicole Mahoney, host of destination on the left. I am passionate about travel and tourism and love learning from variances of professionals in the industry and that is why I’m so excited to introduce today’s encore guest, Brittany Gibson. Brittany first joined us at destination on the left in April, 2017 on episode 23 when she worked for the Watkins Glen Chamber of Commerce and was responsible for promoting tourism for Schuyler county. And that episode we talked about tourism, creativity and collaboration from the deemos perspective and how Brittany leveraged social media help local businesses promote themselves as part of the tourism product of the region and how Brittany leveraged regional collaborations to extend her reach. And this encore interview, Brittany now serves as executive director of the Seneca Lake wine trail. The role she took on in November, 2019 following a successful four years at the Walken’s Glen Area Chamber of Commerce as the tourism and marketing manager. Brittany’s career in the wine industry began in 2005 when she took what she thought would just be a summer job at Seneca winery. Well, she was in college. Little did she know that weekend position would parlay into a career in marketing and tourism promotion. Brittany’s love of the finger lakes is second only to her love of her incredible supportive husband Sheldon, their son Hudson and Chevy Resto mods, which Brittany, you’re going to have to explain to our listeners your love for the Chevy Resto mods for sure.

Nicole Mahoney: 01:49 And I hope I said it right because I’ve got as much of the Susie as awesome. So welcome back to the, so thank you so much for joining me again. Thanks for having me. And, um, I, you know, I do want you to talk a little bit about your love for Chevy’s and for the finger lakes. And then, uh, after we get past that, if you could talk also a little bit about your new role and kind of catch us up to, you know, where you are now. Um, from when we first spoke, uh, last, uh, April, 2017, two years ago. It’s been,

Brittany Gibson: 02:21 I can’t believe it’s been that long. Well, yeah, lots has happened since then obviously. Um, yeah, one of my big hobbies, um, is classic cars, vintage cars of all kinds, but Chevy’s have a special place in my heart. That’s sort of what I grew up around as a kid. Um, and when my husband and I finally crossed paths, we are both a little bit later in life for that. Um, we just discovered that, hey, we both have this crazy mutual love for Chevy cars and trucks. So a resto mod is an abbreviation, kind of like car talk for restoration modification. So it’s where you take a classic car and you not only restore it, but you might make a few tweaks here and there. And my favorite are to the engine. If you can make it sound louder and go faster, I’m all about it. So that’s a brief like layman’s term definition of arrest Ahmad.

Nicole Mahoney: 03:09 That’s awesome. And how fitting that your office is right down there and Watkins one, you’re the Watkins gone in the national raceway.

Brittany Gibson: 03:16 That’s what I love every minute down here. Every day when I pulled into my parking into my parking spot at work, because we share a parking lot with the harbor hotel. That’s where a lot of the race teams and the car clubs that come in park their vehicles. So you never know what you’re going to see in Watkins Glen. May Be a lotus, maybe a Porsche, maybe a Lamborghini. It changes every day. So I love the summer season down here.

Nicole Mahoney: 03:37 That’s awesome. And so also since we spoke in 2017 you have taken on this new role with the Seneca Lake wine trail. Could you talk a little bit about, you know, that that transition and share with our listeners, you know, what you are doing now in your new role?

Brittany Gibson: 03:53 Yeah. In my former position, I was the tourism and marketing manager at the Chamber of Commerce in Watkins Glen. We were the tourism promotion agency for Schuyler County. And of course that’s the destination marketing side and I’ve sort of transitioned over into the asset side. So as the executive director of the Seneca Lake wine trail, I handle all the marketing and promotion for all of our member wineries. Um, we are a five oh one C so it’s a membership based and as I said, 31 member wineries around the lake and we handle it all for them. So it’s a really exciting role. And as, as you sort of described in my intro, it feels a little bit like closing the circle. Um, I’m super happy to be here and we are embarking on a lot of new exciting things.

Nicole Mahoney: 04:34 Yeah, I think I, and I can’t wait to hear about them. I know you’re working in a lot of different things, but before we dive into that, could you talk a little bit more to you about those 31 wineries because they, they have a distinct kind of, um, commonality I guess, but among them that make them part of this trail. Can you explain a little bit more about that?

Brittany Gibson: 04:54 Yeah, so our tagline is grown here, made here. Um, and that tagline is especially apt for this group of wineries because in order to be a member, one of the Seneca Lake wine trail, you have to meet a certain threshold of production in terms of having a minimum amount of grapes on your farm that you grow. And or that you purchase the vast majority of your fruit, or I should say the majority of your fruit from the Seneca Lake Ava and an ava is the Americans that are cultural association and that they sort of demark the areas where certain grapes are grown to enable you to label the wine after that Ava.

Nicole Mahoney: 05:33 Right. And so I think that’s a, it’s an important distinction to make because I know, no, especially in the finger lakes region, there are so many wineries and I know we’re going to get into this probably when we talk about creativity and collaboration, but being able to, you know, stand out, I think it sounds like the Seneca lake wine trail is really helping those wineries in particular kind of lay their claim of distinction. You will.

Brittany Gibson: 05:58 Yeah. One of the new things that, uh, I launched, so I started here in November of 2018, um, and we launched a new website earlier this year with the idea and the goal that we would be hopefully sort of sorting through some of the noise for the consumer. We wanted it to be very consumer friendly, very easy to use on your cell phone, uh, but help them find the wineries that they wanted to go to based upon their tastes. So I would say this center piece, sort of the cornerstone of that site is, is our explore tab. So if you were to visit Seneca Lake and click on explore, it will actually open up the map of our wine trail, but also along the left hand side and it’ll allow you to sort of sort by different criteria. So maybe the price per bottle, we have an average price per bottle sorter.

Brittany Gibson: 06:44 We have a sorter that allows you to look at wines that are white or red or dry or sweet or if you’re looking for bubbly or dessert wine or maybe a particular variety. We actually, that’s one of the most used searches on the site, um, are by style. So dry, semi dry, semi sweet and sweet or by grape variety. So obviously lots of searches for Riesling and Cabernet franc and those kinds of things. So when you populate those criteria lists, it’ll publish a list for you. I’m with, with wineries have produced those types of styles of wines.

Nicole Mahoney: 07:16 I love that. I love how that really kind of dives in or dials into, you know, what the consumers are looking for and, and it’s um, it kinda helps them. I love that you mentioned sort through the noise because that is one of the things that you know, as you know, we like to talk about this podcast and that is how, you know, how much noise there really is out there and, and how competitive the industry really is. And I think wherever you can help, um, you know, your visitors kind of find the experiences that are going to fit for them. It sounds to me like that would be a win, a win win for both, right?

Brittany Gibson: 07:48 Yes. And the other thing we’re trying to do to Nicole is to make wine more approachable. We know from studies and surveys that the reason why people love the finger lakes, and in particular the Seneca Lake wine trail is that we have world-class wines. We have amazing views, so much to do, but also because our tasting rooms are low key. So you can certainly go in and get a great education about wine. But if you’re not inefficient, Otto or it’s your sort of, your first go around or you’re just not that knowledgeable, it’s okay. Our wineries are not judgmental. They welcome everybody and they probably will have a wine to suit your taste. And that’s the great thing about having our winemakers and our winery owners live here. They work here, the grapes are grown here, the line is made here. So it’s all part of this sort of internal loop if you will, of people that are just dedicated to sharing the best quality wine and they will meet you wherever you are, whether you’re a novice or an efficient Otto or somewhere in between. You know, just love to enjoy wine. That’s fine too. Um, it’s all very low key. It’s an authentic, it’s all about the experience for us.

Nicole Mahoney: 08:54 Yeah, I think that’s, that’s really incredible. What are some of the other things that, that you’re doing to, you know, assist with standing out from the crowd and kind of cutting through that clutter and the noise?

Brittany Gibson: 09:07 Well, we recently launched a pretty wide ranging digital media buy, so that includes digital display banners, pre-roll video, and some social advertising. And that’s really the first time the trail has done that sort of thing. We’ve previously always relied on selling tickets to our special events. To, to promote the wineries because those, especially that weekends sort of allow, I call it the toe dip effect where people can purchase a ticket, go around to various wineries, kind of have a pre laid out itinerary if you will, and then they can sort of sample and figure out really what they like without being so overwhelmed by the choices. And a lot of times people will use those as like a first time visit as sort of gauging, okay, where do we really like where do we want to go on our next visit? And the average visitor to the region comes back at least five times.

Brittany Gibson: 09:56 That number is mind boggling to me, but it’s very believable, um, because we see it everyday in our tasting rooms so that media buy we’re hoping will sort of attract people outside of those special event weekends that are so popular. We have so many wineries with so many different unique events going on year round that we want to make sure that people know that we’re open for business year round and that we’re here to serve you. Again, as I said, we, we sort of want consumers to know that we will meet you wherever you are on your wine tasting spectrum, I guess on your journey.

Nicole Mahoney: 10:31 Absolutely. I, uh, I, I think that’s so interesting that the average return visits are, comes back at least five times. Is that, is that more of a local visitor? Are those, you know, visitors that come for the overnight? Can you talk a little bit about what does a visitor to the wine trail look like?

Brittany Gibson: 10:49 Yeah. Generally speaking, um, we have three personas, but our visitors very, very strongly come for overnights because there’s so much to see and do. It’s certainly doable on a day trip, let’s say for folks from Rochester, Syracuse or Ethica or Corning. But if they’re coming, a lot of them are coming from Pennsylvania, which is no surprise to anybody listening to this podcast, I’m sure. But a lot of them are coming up for a long weekend and over the years we’re seeing them sort of continue to extend their stays. I think actually this is so strange. I just had a Deja Vu moment. I think that you and I talked about this in 2017 that we were sort of seeing people go from the standard sort of short weekend to longer weekends and then they were sort of starting to stretch it out to four or five days. And now, I mean with so many people finding great vacation rentals and great hotel deals and things like that, they’re stretching it out to a full week and that allows them to not just get to our wineries, but all the other things that there are to see and do in the area.

Nicole Mahoney: 11:47 Yeah, I think, um, I think that’s a really great point. And uh, I love that you actually are, and it doesn’t surprise me all because of your background, but that you’re bringing in, you know, not just the wineries, but really taking in what is that total experience that a visitor is going to have, not just by coming into these low key tasting rooms and making the lines approachable, but also kind of matching that to what the rest of the regional experiences.

Brittany Gibson: 12:13 Yeah. And that’s one of the ways, you know, the term that you use. I think is called op petition, which I love. Um, and so we partner with anybody and everybody that we can. So we firmly believe in the, the strength of partnerships and we are members of, I don’t even know how many chambers of commerce or CPAs or DMO organizations. Um, we are members of a lot of them reaching all the way to Rochester, Seneca County, Yates County, Ontario County, Schuyler County, obviously, um, you know, and the list goes on and, and we do that because we know that one winery or even 31 for that matter is not a destination in and of itself. It’s the fact that it’s all set up in this unique footprint around Seneca Lake with waterfalls and hiking and road racing and history and museums and culture and amazing dining and great agritourism. That’s what makes us a destination. So we don’t view our supporting assets as competition. We view them as just that assets and we want to partner with them to make sure that our visitors are their visitors and their visitors are our visitors. It’s the most effective way to make our marketing dollars go the furthest.

Nicole Mahoney: 13:25 Yeah, absolutely. And do you have a specific example of where, you know, one of those partnerships is really working for the wine trail?

Brittany Gibson: 13:33 Well, we have a really great partnership with Watkins Linsday Park and the Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce. And they have a, the Chamber of Commerce actually runs the new visitors center there. Um, and so we have partnered with them to make sure that our brochures are distributed and even something simple like distributing brochures from may through October, they see over 80,000 people through their doors and we send tens of thousands of Seneca lake wine trail maps and brochures with them. So that’s one way of sort of leveraging a tourism destination that’s so highly trafficked. And then we sort of cover the lake and go up to the north end in Geneva by partnering with the Finger Lakes Balkam center up there. And we have launched wine Wednesdays, which are tastings where, um, each of our member wineries has signed up to volunteer for one Wednesday throughout the summer and they, one winery volunteer will go up and they will pour a selection of wines from, say five to seven of our member wineries as a way to further promote our wineries to people that are here in the region.

Brittany Gibson: 14:34 We want them to have a little sampling of the wine so that they understand, wow, look at all these different things that I can try at these different wineries because we, we do still occasionally fight that stereotype of, oh, finger lakes wineries only make sweet wine. But then they, when you’re, when you’re with them and they’re in this visitor center, they’re trying recently, they’re trying chardonnay, they’re trying cabernet frog, they’re trying peanut GRI. I mean they, they, they could try five to seven different wines from different wineries and they will get that initial taste and they’ll go, wow, okay, definitely we need to do this. Maybe it was a maybe on their list or maybe they weren’t sure which wineries to go to. We hope that those tastings will serve as a catalyst and a way to convert those visitors into our tasting room visitors.

Nicole Mahoney: 15:18 All right. Absolutely. And I love how there’s like a little bit of an element that a little actually a lot of education right involved in, in those wine Wednesday tastings. And I’m, I’m wondering if there are other ways that you are helping to kind of educate the public eye. I think you are right on about, you know, that perception of the sweet wines and sweet Rieslings from the finger lakes. And I personally know that for my own taste. So that’s far from the truth. But how are you helping to educate beyond just that one example of the Wine Wednesdays?

Brittany Gibson: 15:50 A lot of it is our storytelling. So we are actually working as you know, with break days media to do our social handle, our social media and handle all of our sort of, uh, press relations and media outreach. And a lot of it is just how we’re sharing the narrative of what the Seneca Lake wine trail is. Um, it is not a pub crawl. It is not a booze cruise. We certainly want people to come out and have a great time, but we want them to understand that, um, you know, we want them to do it responsibly and we want them to enjoy our tasting rooms. And in that way, a lot of it is surrounding the message. Nicole, it’s, it’s sharing with them whether it’s in our website copy or our social media posts or when I go out and do TV interviews, it’s all about the way that we tell our story and we’re trying to tell the story of quality wines of a low key setting of wine makers and owners that live here are from here and are dedicated to the area. We’re trying to further sort of drive home this whole idea that we are one big family on the Seneca Lake wine trail and we all take care of each other.

Nicole Mahoney: 16:56 Yeah, absolutely. And I love that you’re mentioning storytelling as well and, and how important that is. And then you know that you have all these different ways to put that narrative out there and whether it’s through social, your website, PR or really one thing I know that you bring to the table and when your job is making sure that that message is consistent across all of your channels and understanding who you’re talking to in each of those channels, I think that makes a huge difference.

Brittany Gibson: 17:23 Yeah, we worked with the New York wine and grape foundation earlier this year to do a purse, participate in a study. We essentially shared out a survey that they were conducting about just that messaging. Um, and you know what is beneficial and we got a lot of feedback from that and we know that we have three personas that we need to be trying to reach. The first is sort of the next generation wine drinker and that’s your millennials who maybe have not quite arrived in terms of having a ton of money to spend when they travel. But truth be told when they do travel, they do, they do spend money and we need to remember that those will be our consumers of tomorrow. The next persona is our wine, his life persona. And those are sort of a 35 to 50 year old women. Um, almost exclusively women. They know a lot about wine, but for them the trip itself is more about the experience.

Brittany Gibson: 18:15 They want to be immersed, they want to take part in these high touch, really high end customer service related wine tastings. They tend to travel with their girlfriends, um, in small groups, that sort of thing. And then our third persona that we focused on, um, our, the fine vintage and that is our boomers and our boomers plus, uh, they are pretty evenly split. Male, female, they tend to travel in couples or very small groups, maybe four people, six Max. Um, and they really know a lot about wine. And so if you look at those three personas, they’re perfect for what we offer. It’s just a matter of getting, as you said, in the messaging on point and consistent to be able to reach those three unique personas. And I’ve been good, really exciting thing. We’re lucky in that the story that we have to tell is appealing to all three of those audiences. So for us it’s just a matter of getting it all lined up, teeing it off and hopefully it will hit a hole in one.

Nicole Mahoney: 19:12 That’s right. Absolutely. Well and, and we all know, I mean realistically you don’t always hit that hole in line is always, you know, kind of a test and you know, a Josh reached that but um, but the fact that you have that study from the New York Line, a great foundation and all of these, you know, you’ve got the story of the towel and um, you’re very strategic about how you’re doing it I think definitely gives you a better chance of, of getting there. I think that’s really awesome. Um, and I’m glad you brought up the New York wine and grape foundation because I wanted you to, I want our listeners to understand a little bit more about how sounds like wine trail kind of fits into the whole New York state. Um, you know, wine scene, if you will. And, and, uh, as we were talking about collaboration and coopertition, he talked a little bit about how, how that works, like at the state level and, and whether or not, or how the Seneca Lake wine trail kind of views being part of New York state wines and then how you get back down to the local or geographical, you know, location of Seneca Lake.

Brittany Gibson: 20:14 Yeah. So the New York wine and grape foundation, um, was founded in 1985, um, and it’s founded under a state statute. And their job really is to support industry growth, um, through promotion, research and basically development. So capacity building, um, and now that has sort of evolved over the years and it’s now this really unique public private partnership. So we as a wine industry, as Uncynical Lake are partners of theirs, but then, um, consumers now can actually buy in and become partners as well. Um, and individual wineries too. So the foundation is really our state level link to all sorts of other opportunities like lobbying on behalf of not, I don’t want to say lobbying cause that’s too strong a word, but it’s essentially our political connection. They, we work through Sam Filler who’s their executive director to make sure that the New York wine and grape growers and winemakers are, have a voice in Albany.

Brittany Gibson: 21:14 Um, we also partner at the national level with wine America and white America is, um, DC-based and they, Jim Trezise who is the former executive director of the New York wine and grape foundation. Um, Jim Trezise is now with wine America and that is the only national level wine or re slash grape grower. We Really, why should say winery, um, focus group to make sure that our interests, again, are represented at the national level. So for us, we’re really lucky as, as a wine trail and for our member wineries to have this state level association or foundation and then a national, um, group working on our behalf. And so we again value those partnerships through the, through wine America. They actually have a state and regional, I think it’s called STRAC. So State Regional Association Advisory Council. And I sit on that council. We have monthly calls and there’s literally people from wine associations from throughout the nation.

Brittany Gibson: 22:14 Um, there’s people from Colorado on there, Pennsylvania, New York, obviously California, Oregon, Washington, you name it, they’re on there. Um, so these organizations, people might see them on paper and think, oh, they’re based in DC and when we never hear from them, no, no work together every month. We’re actually doing a retreat here on Seneca Lake in November. Um, you know, the foundation, Sam Filler and I are in touch on a weekly basis, if not more frequently than that. So there’s a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes to make sure that the wine industry stays strong in New York state. I mean, we are, as you know, the dollars are getting thinner and thinner and we need to make sure that we’re bringing in visitors that are going to not only just visit our wineries but buy our wine, not just here, but when they go home to. So this multilayer collection of collaborators is really, really important and we, we are wholeheartedly supporting any collaboration at that level that we can.

Nicole Mahoney: 23:10 Yeah. And I think that’s just awesome. And, and what a great illustration of, you know, how you can really leverage your leveraging, you know, power of 31 wineries at Seneca Lake, but then you go up to the state level and then up to the national. Um, and I, I agree wholeheartedly that, but that’s, uh, you know, just the best way that you can really have that voice and um, um, I’m sure learn from each other. Right?

Brittany Gibson: 23:36 Oh my gosh. Can we learn from each other? Yeah. I mean, Donny Wind Gel from the Ohio wine producers association is, is a perfect example. She puts on license to steal year and she could just keep all of her ideas and the things that she learned by trial and error and professionally to herself if she wanted. Right. To the benefit of her organization. But no, she goes out and shares it with anybody and everybody that wants to attend that, that particular conference. So I think that’s really unique in the tourism industry and even more unique to the wine industry as a subset because we all understand, look, we have to work together guys, because the, we are living in a rapidly expanding global marketplace and we need to make sure that our businesses are being represented there. So you’ve got to be a part of the conversation, you know, you really can’t, in my, my opinion has always been, if you’re not willing to be part of the conversation, then you can’t complain when you’re left out.

Nicole Mahoney: 24:31 Right. Very good. You know that about meaningful. Yes, absolutely. Um, so I wanted to give you an opportunity to talk about, um, anything that’s coming up that you’re really excited about. Um, any projects that you might be working on are things that are coming to the Seneca Lake wine trail that you’d like to share with our listener?

Brittany Gibson: 24:52 Well, we are really just um, finalizing some plans for 2020. Um, I can’t officially announce anything yet, but I can tell you that there is an exciting small event being brainstormed that I’m super excited about because as we started talking earlier about our events are very popular. Everybody loves them, knows them spring line and cheese deck the halls. Yeah, it’s thousands of people. It’s a great time. But we also want to make sure that we’re offering more boutique style experiences for people that don’t want to come out with thousands of their friends on a weekend in December or November. We want them to be able to have a smaller, more intimate experience and we are working really hard to pull something together for fruition for 2020 so that’s definitely exciting. And then just the planning for 2020 for me is exciting because I started in November obviously, which is well past budget planning time.

Brittany Gibson: 25:47 And sure, I was able to, thankfully with the flexibility of our organization, um, and the trust of our members and me make some changes to the budget, but this is the first time that I’m actually able to create the whole package. Um, so talk about consistency. That’s what excites me the most. Not many people get excited over financials and I never used to either. But it’s different when you’re able to really pull your ideas out and, and have the trust of our organization to be able to bring them to fruition. So I would say stay tuned.

Nicole Mahoney: 26:17 Oh, that sounds really exciting and I love that. We will absolutely stay tuned. Um, I think that, uh, I agree with you on the financial side. Um, you know, not everyone might think that that’s an exciting thing to do, but, um, as you’re describing, when you’re able to do the, you know, the planning and then have the resources and be able to allocate the resources in the best way for you to get what you believe will be the best return, I can see how that would be very exciting.

Brittany Gibson: 26:43 And the other great thing about the Seneca Lake wine trail, Nicole, is that our 31 member wineries work really, really well together. A lot of people have asked me just on, they’ll in the few months that I’ve been here, you know, what is the secret to the Seneca Lake wine show? Because there are wine trails across the state and across the nation that they really struggle with membership. Um, you know, they, they might have less than 10% of the wineries in there particular areas, members of the wine trail. And some of it is just the natural challenge of the business. I mean, it’s hard for people to be involved in organizations, but what always impresses me about decentivize wine trail, I, we have our monthly meetings and we have a great turnout at those. It’s obvious that people care and they’re concerned and they want to be involved, but they want to cooperate. And that is so refreshing. They don’t, they really, truly don’t see each other as competitors. Um, they know that again, one winery is not a destination, but 31 certainly is. Um, and that’s amazing that they have that type of mindset because it’s not necessarily the case in every industry. I am really, really lucky.

Nicole Mahoney: 27:49 Yeah. I think, um, that’s a really great point because there are so many collaborations out there that, um, you know, that that do work or, or might not work. But it’s very difficult when you get that many people around the table, they everyone to agree and move something forward. And, um, if, if you have that openmindedness around the table, I can see how that would make for a very successful, um, organization. Absolutely. So, um, before we wrap up, I always like to get at least a little bit of a best practices or advice from our guests. And I think, um, based on what you just shared with regards to, you know, how your members really do get together and cooperate, do you have some best practices, um, or you know, that you can share with our listeners in terms of what really does make the group work so well together? Some things that maybe our listeners might be able to think about our employee and some of the other collaborations that they might have?

Brittany Gibson: 28:49 Yeah, I think, um, from my perspective, one of the things that, uh, my long range planning committee said to me very early on in my tenure was actually Ted marks from Atwater estate vineyards. And anybody that knows Ted knows that he is a legend in the business world and the winery world for that matter. He is very well respected. He speaks his mind. Um, and one of the first things he said to me was, hey kid, we want to be, we want you to lead as much as you want to be led. So make sure that you’re basically not afraid to stand up and tell us the direction that you think we should go because we’re trusting in you. Right? So they were sort of trying to tell me, look, we are all very close to the everyday of our businesses and we trust in you to lead the organization.

Brittany Gibson: 29:30 And that was very eyeopening to me because I was sort of still in that new phase of not sure how much leeway I could take. And I wasn’t sure what the appetite was for sort of me making recommendations. Um, but I think sometimes you just have to trust your instincts and you have to trust your education and your experience and know that you are put in a role for a reason. And if other people trust you, take that trust seriously and make it your mission to be as success and it will calm. It happens. Um, I mean everyday I come to this office, I’m like, is this really my life? Am I sick? Seriously though somebody put me in. This is amazing, you know, and that, but you have to remind yourself, I mean, it took you years of college and real life experience and jobs and working really hard to get to where you are.

Brittany Gibson: 30:19 So, um, I mean there’s a reason why we all are aware we are. So in addition to really hard work and trusting in your capabilities, I think a lot of it is never being afraid to learn. I learned something new every single day. I ask questions all the time and I talk a lot as you know, Nicole and that co, those conversations are really important because I look at it as I can learn and absorb something from every single person I meet and I’m going to find a way to do just that. So, I mean, my advice would be to be willing to sit and listen, but also be willing to speak up when you don’t understand something or have a question or need reassurance or need affirmation that yes, this is what someone, this is what someone’s thinking. Um, you know, communication I think is, is where we’ve lost a lot of our civility in our society.

Brittany Gibson: 31:10 Um, you know, without getting too political, for me it’s not political. It’s really about person to person conversation. We’re, we’re so used to sending emails and text messages and pick up the phone or send a letter. People love letters, people love cards. Um, but you know that you cannot replace that one on one conversation. And so I always try to, no matter how busy I am or what I’m going to do, if I’m, if I’m having a conversation with somebody, 100% of my attention is on that conversation because as you know from, as a business owner, you learn so much just by talking to people. Um, and you would lose all that if you were to do that by an email. So I share a lot of technology, but there’s a, there’s a delicate balance and all that for me. I don’t even know if I actually answered your question.

Nicole Mahoney: 31:54 You sure? You gave a lot. I agree. Good. Maybe it’s actually, and I love that, you know, you talked about trusting your inner instincts, um, not being afraid to learn the importance of listening and in that one on one conversation, how important that is. I think all of those are great answers to the question and really good advice and a great way to wrap up this wonderful, um, encore episode. Um, so Brittany, again, I appreciate you taking time and sharing with us. We’ll definitely look forward to hearing about those 2020 plans. I can’t wait to hear about these new experiences that you have in the works. And, um, I appreciate you being with me today.

Brittany Gibson: 32:36 Thanks for having me. And I hope to talk to you again soon

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