Co-creating hospitality experiences at the cellar door: a case study of Waiheke Island
Whereas wine tourism literature is increasing, there remains little evidence of literature that recognises the synergies between winery visitors and operators in the co-creation of experiences at the cellar door. Thus the intention of this research is to understand, identify and describe how effectively wineries within a specific region co-create various dimensions of the cellar door experience in their interaction and promotion to visitors to the cellar door. As a consequence, this study contributes to the academic literature pertaining to cellar door experiences. The tasting room is often referred to as the ‘cellar door’ and is the area which provides the interface between visitors and staff. In this arena, visitors taste wine, view buildings, facilities, and meet staff from those specific vineyards. This interface during the cellar door experience is an area in which a winery can differentiate itself from the competition. This research illustrates that the visit to a winery’s tasting room incorporates a number of themes that contribute to the overall wine tourism experience. These themes include the winery size and surroundings, the product itself, and ultimately the level and types of service received. The concept of ‘co-creation’ is placed within the definition of ‘hospitality’ in this research, which investigates how experience and behaviour may provide new perspectives for winery operators to consider. The particular relevance of this research comes from comparing consumers’ experiences of the tasting room to the intentions of winery operators, therein providing specific recommendations for the implementation of practical outcomes for a successful tasting room. A qualitative case study approach was adopted for this project in which the sample chosen is representative of the winery operators on Waiheke Island, New Zealand. A multiple case embedded design was constructed and interviews in six of the wineries were conducted with the winery operators. A further 16 visitor participants at these wineries were also interviewed. The findings of this research indicate that hospitality experiences are not necessarily co-created solely through human interaction. Other intangible factors such as the initial encounter of embarking upon a winery visit, the engagement between visitors and winery operators, and the overall experience of the visit, interweave to construct this phenomenon. Intending to add new knowledge to the area of wine tourism, this research project offers some information to winery operators, and the wine tourism industry on how winery tasting rooms may be managed more effectively to create positive experiences for their visitors. This information suggests that influences other than ‘face to face’ communications may enrich the hospitality experience received at the wineries.