26 members attended the VLA’s March meeting in Richmond, VA with operators coming from up to two hours away.
RICHMOND, Va. — Coming off the success of halting a proposed sales and use tax, the Virginia Limousine Association is looking forward to the warmer weather and uptick in tourism that it will bring.
A big topic of discussion during their quarterly meeting on March 11 was how operators in the region can further develop wine tour business without alienating the wineries. One fear is that wineries will start turning limos and buses away because some are showing up unannounced with large groups.
“We want the limos to be welcome and we want to have a partnership with the tourism that we develop in Virginia,” VLA president Glenn Stafford said.
Stafford urged operators in the area to contact the VLA if they’re not sure how to conduct a wine tour so the association can share best practices. In particular, groups of six or more require a reservation at many wineries, especially the very popular ones or the smaller boutique venues. In many cases, the wineries take reservations for tastings online.
Operators should plan an itinerary, said Stafford, instead of just telling clients they’ll take them wherever they want to go. “It’s a little more refined process to make it a successful business instead of a one-shot deal,” he said.
Stafford said that he’s been told by one winery that they will start turning away limos and buses without reservations. “A lot of people do these wine tours. And it’s a great day. It’s a lot of fun. And it’s like funeral work because you’re out during the day and the car comes back, and you can run it at night.”
Stafford and the VLA are focused on making sure this type of retail business continues to grow. “There’s enough to go around if we have professional operators that conduct themselves in the right manner — and we promote that.”
— Denis Wilson, LCT East Coast Editor