Teaming Up to Drive Wine Drinkers into the Heart of Willamette
How Visit Corvallis and the Heart of Willamette Winery Association Turned Their Paper Passport into a Golden Ticket
Visit Corvallis and the Heart of Willamette Wineries Association have a long history of working together. In 2015, the two collaborated to launch a paper passport program that was sold through the visitor center and area wineries. At a price point of $30, the passport served as a fundraiser for the association and created a spirit of collaboration between the two organizations and amongst the wineries included in the passport.
After five years, the two organizations started to consider a solution that would allow them to track return on investment more efficiently. Though the paper passports allowed for tracking individuals through the doors of wineries, comprehensive reporting across organizations had long been a dream.
The passport, which includes 20 places in the area for outdoor enthusiasts to explore – from waterways to nature preserves – entices passholders to check in to earn prizes like fanny packs and sunglasses.
“Visit Corvallis is an organization of four tasked with competing priorities and supporting many partners. As the executive director often my job title could be summed up as the Chief Cat Wrangler,” Christina Rehklau, Executive Director of Visit Corvallis, said. “Having Bandwango as a partner has allowed us to expand our capacity and we consider them part of our team.”
Season One Begins
Together, the two organizations started the process of transferring the paper passport of the past to Bandwango’s digital platform in 2020. This proved to be even more timely when COVID-19 changed the way tasting rooms could operate throughout Oregon.
Bandwango provided flexibility that paper passports couldn’t offer, with messaging capabilities that could let passholders know of changing precautions and openings and closings nearby.
With this flexibility, Heart of Willamette Winery Association was able to persuade 18 wineries, one spirits distillery and 1 cider house to join the new mobile-friendly passport in 2020, while keeping the same $30 price point of the paper passport intact.
When the digital passport hit the market in May 2020, Visit Corvallis and the Heart of Willamette Winery Association planned to keep the program seasonal, with the expiration date of all passes set to September 2020.
Within the first few months, wineries were seeing the impact of the passport on traffic to their tasting rooms. In fact, the response was so good that the two organizations decided to extend the life of the passport, changing the expiration date to November 2020 instead.
During the first season with Bandwango, the two associations tracked 200 purchases and 639 redemptions.
“After doing a physical passport for several years, working with Bandwango and utilizing their digital passport format was such a relief. The staff at Bandwango contacted all of the merchants included in the passport and worked with them for their individual sites, they assisted us with marketing the winery passport to those in our area and they handled all of the monies for each passport, depositing funds in our account on a monthly basis,” Marcia Gilson, Secretary-Treasurer for the Heart of Willamette Winery Association said.
“Our organization didn’t even think twice about working with Bandwango the second year and we found that the ease of the passport assisted us in recruiting new members for our organization.”
“The reports that were supplied to us helped us understand our customer base. Sales seem to have almost doubled this year and we are looking forward to working with Bandwango for the upcoming third season of our digital passport,” Gilson said.
2021 Brings Improvements
During the off season between passports, Visit Corvallis and the Heart of Willamette Winery Association worked together to improve the passport even more and prepare for its distribution during two separate seasons – May – Nov 2020 and Apr – Dec 2021.
Today, the passport includes 18 wineries, 1 spirits distillery, 1 cider house and a combination of free tastings, discounts and merchandise. With over $100 worth in savings, the $30 price point is still enticing visitors and locals to sip and enjoy wine throughout the region.
Additionally, the two organizations took advantage of Bandwango’s DXE Connect solution in 2021, which enables clients to sell passports via third party distributors like Rezdy.
Overall, the impact of the data captured by Bandwango has allowed both Visit Corvallis and the winery association to brag about their success more effectively to their stakeholders.
INCREASE IN SALES FROM 2020 TO 2021
INCREASE IN SALES FROM 2019 TO 2021
INCREASE IN SALES FROM 2019 TO 2021
AVERAGE NUMBER OF REDEMPTIONS
*Stats are YTD October 2021
The future of the passport is bright, with both organizations agreeing to extend the program until the end of 2021, so that tastings and purchases that happen during Thanksgiving weekend can be tracked and can be reported on.
The impact of the passport can be summed up in three simple ways: happy partners, happy customers and more profit.