Vacation Phase II

Jim Luff
Posted on June 2, 2009
CALAMITY CENTRAL: My humble apologies on the failure to deliver regular updates as promised. A laptop crash early in the vacation ruined that plan, but I figure it doesn’t matter what day you read it, it is still going to be the same. 
This will be the beginning of six days of observations on vacation that are designed to be thought provoking and thinking like our clients do. We deliver the lap of luxury from our leather seats with four wheels. We serve the discriminating, the demanding, the fussy, and the loyal repeat clients. Come with me as I trade places for a week from the delivering end to the receiving end of luxury. See those who tried, those who succeeded, and those who failed miserably in their attempts.
Our first stop on the road trip to Shell Beach, Calif., was the small winery of Tobin James in Paso Robles. Tobin James is a very popular winery on wine tours that we offer. In addition to having great wine, they offer a tasting room that simply promotes having fun. Beyond a wine tour stop, we frequently work with Tobin James to be a lunch stop for us during large corporate outings where we frequently deliver 50 to 100 people at a time to the winery.
Tobin James has a wonderful outdoor brick pizza oven in their pizza grotto area. Our guests are treated to private tastings served with gourmet pizza and hosted by the owner, general manager, and chef of the winery. Guests are taught how wine is made and how to sample wine at this first stop of six wineries. Obviously, we had to stop as we rarely get face time together with these valued business partners located two hours away from our city.
We were welcomed with open arms. They even invited our dog, Gizmo, to come in and immediately prepared him a bowl of water. My wife, Hillary, was smitten with the staff. The chef came out with a large platter of little mini-pizzas with toppings that were unknown to me but delicious just the same. One bite told my tongue they had just come out of the oven. It was somewhat embarrassing that we were the only ones served mini-pizzas, so we began passing them to people next to us so they could enjoy as well. And, who knew that there were Tobin James dog biscuits? I seriously wonder if there are Cabernet or Chardonnay flavored biscuits.
The importance of this visit from the business standpoint is that we sometimes get into business relationships with people from hotels to restaurants, corporate clients to wedding coordinators, and rarely see them face to face. There is no substitute in relationship building than face-to-face time where warm handshakes and smiling faces convey the appreciation for a good business relationship. I left knowing that our business was appreciated as we were given VIP treatment topped off with 50% off anything we wanted. I took advantage and stocked up. This was serious business on vacation.

TOMORROW: I will share the experience of our arrival at a luxury resort, the subsequent failure of room service, and the stunning business decision to close a packed hotel bar at 10:30pm.

-- Jim Luff, LCT contributing editor

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Jim Luff Contributing Editor
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