When you think of something that’s stressful, you probably don’t immediately think “wine tastings.”

Neither did the customers of Pinot Boutique, a wine store in Philadelphia owned by Dan Soskin.

But the truth is that any retail store trying to host an event is bound to run into the obstacle of time and organization… and that’s not to mention the cost. Many small businesses decide that the return on investment just isn’t worth it.

Dan walked this line delicately. On his part, the store’s wine tastings were mostly a labor of love – with the emphasis on labor.

The biggest problem for him was that he had no way to gather all of his guests’ RSVPs and keep them organized. Instead, he scrambled back and forth from phones to notebook to computer to make sure that each tasting ran smoothly.

But, just by following three steps, Dan managed to turn the tastings from break-even events to a reliable source of business. Here are Dan’s three steps to making sure his wine tastings are an (almost) stress-free experience:

1. Ditch the notebook.

When Dan was first hosting events, he had enough trouble just remembering everything he had to do.

To promote Pinot Boutique’s wine tastings, he needed to make sure he wrote an in-store advertisement and collected guest names in a notebook. He also had to write down the information of everyone who called in, and rewrite the event information for potential guests who visited the store’s website.

Finally, he wrote another description of the event that he emailed to customers.

“Dan had to write the same information in three or four different places,” says Katya Binerva. Her web design firm, baseklas, did extensive work for Pinot Boutique to simplify the process.

They both knew that the real problem was that guest RSVPs ended up scattered across three different platforms. That brought them to the second step:

2. Keep all the guest and event information in one place.

Katya decided to handle her event management with Constant Contact, which allowed her to make a single online homepage for each event to handle guest registrations.

She put a link to that homepage in every place that customers would register.

“Now, every guest who wants to sign up for a class  – whether that’s through the Pinot website or an email – goes to the same place,” Katya explains.

What this means is that, instead of scrambling to write everything down in three different spots, all Dan has to do is create one event with the event management tool. And if customers want to sign up in the store, Dan just types their information into his computer.

The best part is that Katya made sure that every time Dan creates a new event home page, the website is updated in real-time, so Dan doesn’t have to rewrite all of the class information more than once.

3. Host the event.

Thanks to Dan and Katya’s hard work, Dan’s own work is much easier.

Since all of the guest RSVPs now go straight to the event homepage regardless of where they came from, Dan no longer has to keep track of who paid, who accepted, and who declined.

The guest names and emails are all placed into a contact list that Dan can export to Excel if he wants to print it out for the event and sign in guests as they arrive.

In short, his experience with his store’s events is now almost as relaxing as his customer’s.

“Dan doesn’t have to spend all of that time setting things up anymore, because all of the data goes to the event management tool automatically,” Katya says.

Both the “Events” section of the Pinot Boutique website & the store’s email invites send customers to the same homepage.

Combining the experience with revenue

Dan had always known the value in providing an experience for his customers, but by using an event management tool, he saved so much time that the wine tastings and classes at Pinot Boutique started to pay off.

“Constant Contact significantly improved our ability to market our classes and events,” Dan says. “It’s clear that the net result has been an increase in ticket sales and RSVP’s.”

And who could resist experiences like the Philadelphia Vino Voyage?

Did you know you can use Constant Contact to manage your events and integrate an event homepage into your website just like Pinot Boutique? Try it today