An impressive story of growth and success during the covid-19 pandemic.
From employee to owner, Diego’s story is one of triumph and success during covid. A simple concept paired with hard work and dedication allowed Diego to take an established product and transform it into an exceptional online experience, which is now the number one remote wine experience on AirBnB Experiences.
Diego trained as a professional sommelier and worked as such before entering the tourism and wine-tasting industry. Starting as a waiter to pay for his finance studies, he graduated to become a bartender and restaurant manager. Eventually, he decided to quit his finance studies to become a sommelier, aiming to focus on Argentinian wines.
Eventually, Diego began working for an American-owned company that hosted wine tastings for travellers, primarily Americans. After the owner had to step away from the business, Diego decided to step out on his own. “I created more tailor-made experiences for wine-loving people, wine aficionados, or wine newbies.” And then covid hit.
Luckily for Diego, the tourist season was just wrapping up in March 2020, so the loss of income was negligible, at least for 2020. From this vantage point, Diego took full advantage of folks at home looking for something to do, particularly in his target audience in the US. Diego had more than just a little success; he was catapulted to uber-success on AirBnB. His two products, a wine tasting and a wine and steak tasting, are the most reviewed experiences on the platform in the wine category—no small feat. Check out Diego's profile on indie Travel.
“It was tough to do the market research to see which wines were available in the US and Canada.”
When people book, they first receive a welcome message requesting a picture of the wine section of the local grocery or wine store or to send Diego a link to the store. From there, Diego advises his guests on which wines to purchase for the event.
During the class, it is evident that Diego is engaging, dynamic, and knowledgeable about the topic. By the end of the class, guests know about the best regions to get the best quality wine from Argentina, how to buy it for the best price, and how to pair it with Argentinian food or food from your own country. His goal is to ensure you have the tools you need so that the next time you go to the store, you know all the tips to always buy the best quality wine for the best price from Argentina.
“The only difference, of course, there's a huge difference between the in person and the online was that I wasn't able to pour the wine and talk about the food directly to the people.”
Eventually, Diego expanded and offered classes in other wine regions worldwide. Guests were enamoured with Diego and wanted to continue to learn from him.
Diego's online classes are nearly nonexistent, except for a few here and there, along with corporate groups that have found him. “Every group, corporate or non-corporate, that comes, I take it as a plus.”
Diego is still busy even today. Having transitioned back to in-person events, he does at least four steak and wine classes and four or five wine tastings per week. There is a maximum of eight people per experience to preserve the personal aspects that Diego finds essential to this type of experience. “It's the premium quality service I want to keep preserving rather than quantity.”
90% of bookings come through Airbnb Experiences, and the last 10% are direct and other platforms.
In Five Years
In the future, Diego hopes to open his own space and cut out the restaurants and other spaces he uses to host. With his own space, there comes the opportunity to sell merchandise, curate his wine list, sell the wine, and offer the ingredients used in the foods. Diego hopes to offer a broad range of experiences along with the brick-and-mortar space. More wines, more food, and even more guests.
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