I’m Living in France – and Drinking Less Wine Than Ever

I’ve been in the south France for nearly a month and I’ll be here off and on through the end of April finishing my dual master’s degree in Global Luxury Management. You’d think while I’ve been here that I would have had more than my fair share of wine already, right? Wrong. In fact, I’ve enjoyed less wine here than I did at any time in the states.

So, what gives? There are some cultural differences in the retailing of wine here, especially in restaurants and bars, but the real reason I’ve consumed so much less wine is the very sub-par selection of wines by the glass at restaurants and bars. I really had hoped before venturing here that I would be outside of my United States comfort zone of wines available and trying a greater variety of European wines that haven’t made their way stateside, but when you’re out and about here, the by-the-glass selections are as follows: “red”, “rose”, and “white”. No kidding! You’re lucky if the menu includes any details about the by-the-glass varietal or the geographic source.

Perhaps this recent experience is why this article struck me so strongly today: Millennials dragging wine sales down – and the prudent included advice:

One way to sell Millennials more wine: Carefully curate your wine-by-the-glass list to boost its appeal to this demographic.”

I think it’s a great read for restaurant, nightlife, and hospitality operators everywhere – regardless of geographic location.

Don’t get me wrong – the wine selection at retail points of sale and by the bottle in restaurants are pretty wide and adventurous here in France (and aggressively priced since most are domestic products) – but I rarely desire an entire bottle in one seating and when I want just a glass, I don’t want a mediocre glass of “house wine” that was selected for a profit margin rather than to complement menu offerings.

Ending on a positive note: the retail store wine scene is in much better shape offering a really nice selection with incredibly high-quality and great tasting wines beginning at 8 euros (about $9 USD) a bottle, so I’ve had fun with that! I mean – a girl’s still got to have her wine, right? (Especially when there is no craft cocktail culture here… but more on that later.)

I’m a Starwoods Faithful

There’s something about brand loyalty – it gets in your veins – the very DNA of how luxury consumers consume. And when you find out one of your beloved brands is going to be absorbed by a larger in the industry? Talk about a gut punch.

SPG Love
SPG Love

“Somewhere between their Westin Heavenly Beds and the room’s rainfall shower system, Starwood hotel loyalists were struck Monday morning by a new reality: their beloved loyalty program would soon be gobbled up by Marriott’s less-generous reward system.” – via NewsObserver.com

My other half texted me a link to the story as it broke this morning, knowing good and well that I would simply scrunch up my nose in disgust. I would love to think that the Starwoods identify might be preserved in this merger, but luxury travelers will have to wait to see what happens in the years after the deal’s expected closing in mid-2016. Luckily, this industry tends to move slowly, so it could be years before we see any real changes to the SPG treatment we Starwoods faithfuls have grown to love.

What I’ve Been Up To: October Edition

October flew by because it was packed with things to do, places to be, and people to see. My favorite ways to fill up a busy schedule!

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Johnnie Bud and I spent the first weekend of October visiting my little sister Mandy and her other half Joe up in Delaware are their first house. We got a special tour of Dover Air Force Base where my sister is a veterinarian and the officer in charge at the Dover Air Force Base Veterinary Treatment Facility – check out this great Veteran’s Day article on her and the patients she sees daily: Base vet supports mission, your pets. It’s a long 6+ hour drive (about 2 hours north of D.C.), but always worth it to spend some quality downtime with family.

Johnnie’s brother got married the next weekend on a Sunday – congrats Christopher and Nikki! – and the very next morning was the WRAL TechWire Executive Exchange: Fiber Transforms the Triangle half-day conference held at SAS that I spent no less than three months working on. Every detail, from venue, down to nametags, was painstakingly planned for by my incredible team at WRAL.com and this high-caliber event went off without a hitch. It’s nice to occasionally have a nice, long planning and marketing timeline and a moderate budget to work with!

Just four short days after the Fiber event, Johnnie Bud and I hoped on a plane bound for Louisville and not only traveled to see NCSU play at Louisville (notice I didn’t say “win”… bummer), but we spent a few days checking out a “new to both of us” city and toured and tasted as many of the stops on the Urban Bourbon Trail as possible. Louisville’s got a great food and beverage culture, but their downtown foot traffic is surprisingly slow on the weekends compared to somewhere like Raleigh. I would love to visit again in 5-10 years to see if that has changed.

We wrapped up the month with more places to be at the UConn vs. ECU game in Greenville (thanks for the hospitality, Cory and Alison!), another lovely night of fundraising for the Rex Foundation at the Rex Gala, and as with every October, a quick visit to the NC State Fair!

Business-wise, I’m thrilled to say that several projects were completed for Raleighwood Media Group clients and I even had the opportunity to develop three proposals for new business (social media management and email marketing projects) which are all coming to fruition now that we’re in November… also known at #Movember. So #LetItGrowRDU and I’ll check in next month. Thanks for reading, y’all!

What I’ve Been Up To: June Edition

Punctuation is everything - especially when it comes to marketing and promotions
Punctuation is everything – especially when it comes to marketing and promotions

Truth be told, June wasn’t as professionally exciting as May was, but it was still one heck of a busy month. I can’t believe we’re already looking the 4th of July holiday smack in the face!

  • Started June with Charlotte and Jeff’s wedding, which meant quality time with a few Pi Phi sorority sisters I have gone inexcusably too long without seeing
  • Put together a month long Twitter campaign for a Raleighwood Media Group client to test out a new product/service offering I’m considering and to get their feedback along the way
  • Put in a few late evenings knocking out real estate licensing continuing education after the workday was over – a week before the annual deadline – gold star for that one…
  • Took a much-needed mini-vacation to Ocracoke with Johnnie Bud and friends… realized these trips are no longer “college” trips when everyone in the rental house spends the first hour of their day checking in on work while on vacation
  • On a semi-professional/all enjoyable weeknight, Johnnie Bud and I attended Chef Matt Thompson‘s first cooking club at The State Club – that’s a place I encourage all NCSU graduates to consider having a membership at for conducting business meals
  • Enjoyed a chill Amos Lee concert at Koka Booth Amphitheatre
  • Went to Pinehurst to attend my very first US Open with Johnnie Bud – many thanks to the Stricklands for the hospitality of letting us stay with y’all when hotels have been sold out for two years for this signature professional golf event.
  • On a professional note, I was in awe over the promotional tent for American Express at the US Open. They gave out free ear piece FM radio devices to cardholders so that attendees could hear the ESPN radio coverage of the event, had an interactive “improve your golf swing” demo set up, as well as generated custom rotating .gif images of attendees in front of a green screen with the scenes of Pinehurst imposed on the background… how very memorable for the audience!
  • Made some big strides with fellow TIMA board members to make our programming and value of membership more marketable and well… more valuable – and loved our Mobile Marketing Panel Event that was held in the American Underground at American Tobacco Campus
  • Spent a few hours sorting potatoes for the Food Bank of Central and Eastern NC with Rotaract, and was totally humbled by how many people in NC are at risk of hunger everyday and the work the food bank is doing to combat that
  • Attended the Movember Team RDU spring social with William Ammerman, Director of Sales and Marketing for WRAL.com, and Johnnie Bud – loved seeing the wheels turn in their heads as they got excited about raising critical awareness and much-needed funding men’s health and cancer research this upcoming fall
  • Worked with my super talented WRAL.com team to put together four Sir Walter Raleigh Award submissions for the Raleigh Public Relations Society. It’s our first year participating, so winning or not, I’m thrilled with the quality of our submissions.
  • Closed out the month hosting the Raleigh Beer Guide Volume 2 Release Party at Tribeca Tavern in Raleigh with Tara, Steph, and Jodi of WRAL Out & About… with guest appearance by Deanna who spent some time job shadowing the marketing suite at WRAL.com. Anyone looking for a stellar marketing coordinator, let me know! I’d love to connect you to this great job candidate…
  • Almost forgot: Dragged Lisa S., Joel-o-saurus, and Johnnie Bud to see Little Big Town, also at Koka Booth Amphitheatre in Cary… there’s always time for one more country music concert!

Hope your June was productive, successful and if you were lucky, even a little bit profitable. Cheers, y’all!