Born and raised in a family of hoteliers from Lake Garda, Cristian has been operating in the world of hospitality since always.
After law studies and first experiences in law sector in Italy, she decided to study marketing at Cornell University and moved to hospitality with first experience at Bayerischer Hof in Munich (Germany) and then among several 5 stars hotels in Europe (e.g. Grand Hotel di Rimini, San Clemente Palace, etc). Being a WSET-certified Sommelier, since 2018 she has been a lecturer and professor in several Italian business schools (e.g. CUOA) where she educates the new wine hospitality managers. She’s often invited as a speaker at international conferences on wine tourism (e.g. International Wine Tourism Conference).
Thanks to her rich experience in luxury hotels, she developed a new kind of luxury hospitality and created WineHo, the exclusive brand fully devoted to the best wine hospitality experience.
Cristina Mascanzoni Kaiser, through her recent interview with WINWSA, talks about the wine hospitality she proposes and her thoughts on the future development of this industry.
Q: How many years have you been in the wine & spirits business?
CMK: I have a passion for the wine business since ever and definitely since when I decided to move from my law study and background to the hotellerie. Then in 2016, when I opened my consultancy firm, I decided to focus on a new kind of luxury where product together with my Italian heritage could make a difference. What better than wine? Those are the basis on which WineHo – Wine Hospitality has been created.
Q: What makes you devote yourself to the wine and spirits sector?
CMK: Wine is one of the key elements of the Italian background and to appreciate Italy’s territory and culture Food&Wine are key. Moreover, wine and wine experiences are part of the luxurious appeal that is as well sustainable and concrete and that I like to promote.
Q: What are the main transformations & changes in the industry you have experienced so far?
CMK: Going beyond product doing marketing activities, explaining the sustainability of the product and the culture of the country. Moreover leveraging wine to generate revenues through hospitality as wine&food become one of the reasons to travel.
Q: What have you enjoyed most in your career? The biggest challenge you have encountered as a woman in the industry? What drives you to keep going?
CMK: I enjoy seeing wineries growing and becoming a great place to stay, I enjoy seeing travelers from everywhere in the globe come and get the perfect tailored service they were not expecting. I like to share with wineries the key cultural marketing knowledge to ensure making great experiences and then to be rewarded for the success they get.
Being a woman is tougher, as wine is mostly a male domain, however, more than 20 years of knowledge in hospitality is allowing me to be recognized for my professionalism and the pleasure of the results push me to improve every day.
Q: What are the main distinguishing merits/qualities in women attributing to career success?
CMK: Analytical skills and being straightforward about the goal is something in which I do see women better than anybody else.
Q: Any advice to your peers?
CMK: Women tend to compete sometimes too much one against the other more than building on what who came first did. I’d strongly recommend putting together all the experiences and then developing further, according to a common strategy, the path to be followed.
Q: How are you able to detect a certain consumer/tourist’s key point of interest in wine tourism? Have you noticed some specific features or recent changes in their demand?
CMK: Tourists are not interested any longer in just the product itself. To be truly appreciated is needed to me to provide a holistic and unique experience. Cultural Marketing (the full understanding of the tourist’s cultural background) is the first aspect to be taken into account in order to tailor the experience. Then, it’s important to think of the emotions that are possible to be generated and find some link between wine and other products (e.g. wine and movies or wine and music). Finally, the legacy that the territory might provide and even what the tourist might do sustaining some new projects that are sustainable for the local place and the planet.
Q: How is the industry of wine hospitality in Italy doing now, considering the impacts of the pandemic? According to our knowledge, many wineries have taken place in agritourismo projects. Do you think the wine hospitality that you recommend to your clients is different from agritourismo?
CMK: Italy has been hardly stricken by the COVID-19 Pandemic and all the activities involving tourism have been affected. However, 2022 has been a great recovery year with a strong increment in tourism. We’re now all devoted to an outstanding 2023 that we expect to be the best ever for wine tourism.
Considering what I propose, it’s totally different from agriturismo. While agriturismo has the feeling of cheap tourism in the countryside, normally fully standardized and just playing on price; I’m proposing to tourists and I provide consultancy to wineries a luxury product that takes place in the countryside. My goal is to make wineries the new boutique hotels, with personnel capable to provide both wine and hospitality information, lead by the wine hospitality managers.
Q： What are countermeasures for the industry to defend itself against these changes?
CMK： Providing tailor make services to avoid thinking of wine just based on the product itself, this is the key countermeasure to be taken to provide a product of high quality.
Q： Are there any new trends and developments in wine hospitality? And do you see great potential in this specific sector?
CMK： The complete wine tourism is growing double-digit across Europe and Italy is one of the leading countries. Ensuring high-quality standards, now in Italy even formalized by the new law of wine tourism, and the education of the people working in this sector are the key element to ensure the development of the potential.
My goal, with my firm WineHo, is to be at full disposal both of wineries with tailor-made consultancy to let them express all their potential; and of business schools that are willing to provide courses for the new Wine Hospitality Managers to prepare people for such sector that need the best knowledge to become key in the coming years for the sustainable development.
Q: Who will you recommend us to interview as the next WWS figure?
CMK: I’d recommend Alessandra Priante, UNWTO Director for Europe, a great woman and wine passionate as I’m.
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Photo Credit: Cristina Mascanzoni Kaiser