An Experience Economy Approach to Enhancing Chautauqua-Lake Erie Area Wine Tourism

Final Report for CNE11-091

Project Type: Sustainable Community Innovation
Funds awarded in 2011: $15,000.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2013
Grant Recipient: Iowa State University
Region: Northeast
State: Pennsylvania
Project Leader:
Donna Quadri
Iowa State University
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Project Information


Creating positive, memorable consumer experiences requires each component of the wine tourism supply chain (i.e., wineries, farmers, lodging, attractions, culinary and retail options) to deliver value for visitors. This project identified the central constructs of the experience economy model, namely the 4Es—education, esthetics, entertainment, and escapist—(Pine & Gilmore, 1999), valued by Chautauqua-Lake Erie wine tourists. Data from 970 visitors demonstrated the validity of the 4Es in predicting intentions to recommend and return to the agri-tourism destination and repurchase area wine.

The element with the greatest predictive strength is esthetics—which measured sensory appeal of the winescape with the natural and socio-cultural environment of the destination. Statistical and practical significance of the 4Es combined as predictors of the three future behavioral intentions were substantive (all R2 results above .50); other hypothesized predictors, namely, demographics (age, gender, income, and education) failed to substantively predict future intentions. Data was collected from 189 wine tourism business about which of the 4Es were design priorities. These results, together with the visitors’ data, were used to determine differences between the reported supplier design emphasis and the visitors’ experience. Three experience economy constructs—esthetics, education, and entertainment—were rated more highly by visitors than by business providers, whereas the gap between visitors and businesses were found between all elements but esthetics.

These data were used to create training materials and workshops for the Chautauqua-Lake Erie agri-tourism community. Feedback gathered from three 90-minutes workshops was used to create an electronic survey of businesses to assess changes in business strategies. Of those attending, 88.8% reported that the study findings improved their understanding of wine tourists’ expectations, fully six months post-workshop; of the workshop attendees responding, all but one, reported having added or have planned to add a new strategic partnership with another business to enhance the visitor experience. Adding an educational (44%) and entertainment (44%) element to their business were the two most frequently cited enhancements made, whereas marketing with social media and how to create successful partnerships were the most cited educational need.


Pine, B. J., II, &Gilmore, J. H. (1999). The experience economy: Work is theatre & every business a stage. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press.

Project Objectives:
Data Collection and Local Collaboration Objectives Met

The agricultural and tourism leadership in the region were supportive inviting the primary researcher to present to directors. Four other leading tourism business organizations, in addition to the proposed Wine Trail’s member list, donated their business and consumer databases for data collection (Chautauqua County Visitors Bureau, Erie, Penna. Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB), Lake Erie Concord Grape Belt Heritage Association, North East Penna. Chamber of Commerce). Eleven local wineries donated prizes to incent the visitor survey response, ranging from $15 to $220 of in-kind services.

All 24 wineries associated with the Wine Trail responded to the survey as did an additional 20 farmers; approximately 40 lodging operators and 30 restaurateurs and 30 attraction providers responded as well as several other stakeholder groups. In all 108 farmers and business owners offered additional open-ended comments.

Nearly 1100 electronic surveys were collected, 970 were usable and a total, 830 visitors entered the separate drawing for prizes as an incentive to complete the survey. Donated prizes were randomly selected using Excel software and distributed to winners on October 31, 2011. Over 400 visitors made additional open-ended comments to the survey.

Objectives for Data Analysis and Creation of Educational Materials Met

Data was tested and results compiled. Two 90-minute workshops were held; one in Pennsylvania in North East at Mazza Vineyards South Shore Winery, and one in New York State in Portland, at the Cornell Lake Erie Regional Grape Research Laboratory (a joint venture between Cornell and Pennsylvania State Universities) in July 2012. Attendance at the Pennsylvania workshop included 27 individual business owners; the New York State workshop held 12 business operators; totally 39 participants. This is less than the desired 50 attendees.

A third workshop was produced at the request of the Wine Trail and the Erie, Penna. Convention and Visitors Bureau at which 55 individuals participated. Based on suggestions collected from the two previous seminars, a single training deck was created. Feedback gathered all workshops showed a majority (85%) of attendees would implement the internal audit in their business activities; esthetics, escapism, and education were ranked in that order as elements to add; 90% stated they would share the workshop materials with staff. However, the number one obstacle was identified as to be lack of time (51%) followed by the need for additional money (13%).

These data, from workshop participants, were used to create an electronic survey to all businesses in the study database to assess changes in business strategies. Of the thirty-three e-survey respondents, 60% did not attend a workshop with scheduling conflicts the most frequently reported reason why. Of those attending, 88.8% reported that the study findings improved their understanding of wine tourists’’ expectations, fully six months post-workshop; all attendees, with the exception of one, reported having added or have planned to add a new strategic partnership with another business to enhance the visitor experience. Adding an educational (44%) and entertainment (44%) element to their business were the two most frequently cited enhancements made.

The diversity of businesses attending the workshops was part of the objective of the grant. Types of businesses represented at both workshops included farmers, grape growers, wine makers, bed and breakfast operators, camp ground owners, caterers, specialty retailers (art, jewelry), destination marketers, hospitality and culinary professors from local colleges.


Small rural businesses contribute to the socio-economic fabric of a community and help create the “critical mass” needed to attract visitors (Richards, 2001) to wine tourism regions. However, small businesses in these regions, such as wine grape farmers and wineries face challenges, including competition from urban destinations with larger budgets for business education, which provide competitive strategies that enhance the tourist experience and firm profits. For instance, Gilmore & Pine (2002) have consulted with major hotels, restaurants, retail firms, and cities, leading to enhanced consumer experiences, with which rural tourism must compete. Chautauqua-Lake Erie Wine Trail (CLEWT) stakeholders, made up of grape farmers, vintners, other local food growers, and small hospitality and retail enterprises lack knowledge of Pine and Gilmore’s value-creating experience economy approach. Previous research reveals that agri-tourists seek dining, shopping, cultural and recreational activities (Getz & Brown, 2006). This supports the importance of building on the experiential contributions of all wine tourism businesses in the region (Bruwer & Alant, 2009). Therefore, to remain competitive, CLEWT businesses could benefit from incorporating the experience economy approach into their individual and collective agri-tourism strategies. Coordination among businesses has been cited as important to success of rural wine destinations (Beames, 2003).

The economic stakes for wine regions are significant. Growth in wine tourism is a global phenomenon, increasingly competitive, paralleling rural tourism and wine consumption growth. Rural agri-tourism is considered a mechanism for economic development (Gartner, 2004). Between 2002 and 2007, income from agri-tourism in the U.S. grew 55% (National Agricultural Statistics Service, 2009). Meanwhile, wine consumption reached 35% of the legal population (Mintel, 2008) and the number of bonded, active wineries rose 81% (Hodgen, 2008). Wine tourism is estimated to employee nearly 50,000 people beyond agricultural staff (MKF, 2007).

New York State (NYS) is the third largest U.S. wine producer; Pennsylvania (PA) the seventh, each with 11 designated wine trails, of which the Chautauqua-Lake Erie Wine Trail with its 22 commercial wineries and over 100 wine grape farms spans these states’ northwestern border. A recent NYS report identified improving wine tourism marketing as an economic opportunity for rural wine producing regions and that half of NYS wineries sold 60% of product direct to consumers (NYS Wine Task Force, 2008), while PA wineries sold 87% of product direct to visitors (MKF, 2009). Research-based educational programs assist farmers and mutually dependent agri-tourism suppliers in delivering a better rural tourism experience that visitors will recommend, will repeat, and that will motivate them to repurchase Chautauqua-Lake Erie wines and other farm products, leading to enhanced economic development.


Beames, G. (2003). The rock, the reef and the grape: The challenges of developing wine tourism in regional Australia. Journal of Vacation Marketing, 9(3), 205.

Bruwer, J., &Alant, K. (2009). The hedonic nature of wine tourism consumption: An experiential view. International Journal of Wine Business Research, 21(3), 235.

Gartner, W. (2004). Rural tourism development in the USA. International Journal of Tourism Research, 6, 151-164.

Getz, D., & Brown, G.P. (2006). Critical success factors for wine tourism regions: A demand analysis. Tourism Management, 27(1), 146-158. doi:10.1016/j.tourman.2004.08.002

Gilmore, J.H., & Pine, B.J. II. (2002). Differentiating hospitality operations via experiences: Why selling services is not enough. Cornell Hotel and Restaurant Administration Quarterly, 43(3), 87-96.

Hodgen, C. (2008, June 20). U.S. Chamber of Commerce. U.S. Wine Industry – 2008. Retrieved on January 9, 2011 from
Mintel. Wine – US. (2008, October). Retrieved from on July 7, 2009.

MKF Research, LLC. (2007). The impact of wine, grapes, and grape production on the American economy 2007: Family businesses building value. Helena, CA: MKF Research, LLC.

MKF Research LLC. (2009). The Economic impact of Pennsylvania wine and grapes update 2007. Helena, CA: MKF Research, LLC.
National Agricultural Statistics Service, United States Department of Agriculture, United States Department of Agriculture, (2009, February,). Income from farm-related sources: 2007 and 200: 2007 Census of Agriculture – State Level Data, 1(2). Retrieved June 22, 2010 from,_Chapter_2_US_State_Level/index.asp
New York State Wine Grape Task Force. (2008, December). Report to New York State Commissioner of Agriculture and Markets Mr. Patrick Hooker. Retrieved on July 23, 2009 from

Richards, G. (2001). “The Experience Industry and the Creation of Attractions.” In Cultural Attractions and European Tourism, edited by G. Richards. Oxfordshire, UK: CABI Publishing, pp. 55–69.


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  • Ann Marie Fiore
  • Kevin Martin


Materials and methods:
Project Collaboration and Data Collection: 2011

By presenting the project’s scope to the boards of local business organizations and answering questions, the researcher was able to enlist the collaboration leading grape growers and wine tourism business owners and local business development organizations (e.g., CVBs, Chambers). This support was critical to the success of the project; membership lists were provided by these organizations and leaders provided supporting quotes to be added to email solicitation for survey responses. In addition, two organizations distributed the consumer survey to their visitor databases on behalf of the researcher and posted the survey on their web site (CCVB and Wine Trail). Distributing a professionally prepared press release to local media and availability of investigator to press was successful in creating interest in both business and consumer participation as well as credibility for the study through local media outlets. Use of Qualtrics survey software facilitated the compilation of the electronically collected data.

Collecting data from farmers and local tourism businesses proved to be challenging. Over 1,000 telephone calls and visits, in addition to three email reminders, were made to the 579 farmers and businesses in this population. Summer for rural tourism providers may not be the best time period in which to collect data. LERGL invited the research to the summer growers’ conference during which additional farmers were surveyed. Phone calls and visits made to business operators consumed a greater number of hours than projected.

The project’s data collection instrument was created in the spring and data were collected from June 22, through September 1, 2011. One survey was used to collect data from visitors; the other was used to collect data from farmers and tourism providers. We partnered with two local marketing and trade organizations (e.g., Lake Erie Wine Country (Wine Trail), Chautauqua County Visitors Bureau); these organizations participated in sending surveys via email addresses to their consumer and business membership databases. We also partnered with four other associations (e.g., VisitErie—Erie, Pennsylvania Convention and Visitor Bureau; North East, Pennsylvania Chamber of Commerce; Lake Erie Concord Grape Belt Heritage Association; Lake Erie Regional Grape Research Laboratory-LEGRL), which sent emails to their business members. The Wine Trail posted the survey on its website; and each organization’s management team met with one of the researchers to identify methods to increase participation.

Data Analysis and Dissemination Education Materials: 2012

Statistical software (Stata) was used to produce the statistical analysis of the data whereas PowerPoint presentation software was used to create the four training modules. The time spent soliciting permissions for photo use was grossly underestimated and the research for appropriate visuals subsequently needed for failure to secure these permissions was far greater than expected. Collaboration with additional investigator and with Wine Trail leadership indicated that more visual examples were preferable in the presentation materials.
Again, press coverage initiated by a prepared press release aided in publicizing the workshops for business owners in advance. Two of the organization, Erie CVB and Wine Trail, invited their members by email.

In advance, changes in workshop materials were made at the suggestion of wine trail members and local destination marketing organizations. Hard copies of the slide decks were made for all participants. This was not originally planned.

Training materials were disseminated to the leadership of the local Erie County and Chautauqua Counties visitors’ bureaus, North East Chamber of Commerce, Lake Erie wine trail marketing organization, Cornell Lake Erie Regional Grape Research Laboratory (CLERGRL). CLERGRL sent the files to 210 growers, 63 wineries, 109 researchers, extension agents, and administrators, and 29 political representatives; hosted the files on its home page for four months and moved the files to its business management page for another 4 months. Dissemination and tracking of unique views during the posting of the educational materials on the CLEGRL web site was not possible as planned.

Feedback and Assessment: 2013

Automated response systems were not operable at both locations therefore, paper surveys about the workshop material were distributed.

Feedback from the workshops indicated that hard copies in a larger format, and interactive materials were desired by participants. Additional comments suggested that the four modules was too long and the data portion was less valuable than the recommendations of how to apply the data to individual business. Overwhelmingly, the four modules were considered too much material for both a live presentation but also for individual study later. Therefore, the materials were edited and reduced to more focused actionable items. The revised single slide deck is uploaded here.

Data collected at workshops were used to create an electronic software in Qualtrics to assess the level of change by wine tourism businesses six months after the dissemination of the educational materials. As an incentive for business owners to complete the last survey, the primary investigator offered a two-hour private marketing consultation for free to an individual business operator if entered a drawing. This was created with input from the Wine Trail director and was sent to all businesses’ emails assembled for the project initial data collection. This allowed the collaborators to identify why business operators did not attend a workshop, if additional educational sessions are desired, and what topics would be of interest to future training workshops for rural wine tourism businesses in the Chautauqua-Lake Erie region.

Research results and discussion:

Data collection exceeded expectations, particularly from the consumer survey, with over 1100 responses resulting in 970 usable questionnaires. Using pre-qualified databases from the area marketing organization, and press aided in this this accomplishment. Data collection from the area farmers and business organizations required much more effort than anticipated and was less than desirable. Approximately 190 responses resulted in 169 usable business surveys.

Communication & Education/ Knowledge = Business Changes

Two workshops, as per the grant proposal, were presented to a total of 39 local rural farmers and business representatives. A third workshop was produced at the request of the Wine Trail and the Erie, Penna. Convention and Visitors Bureau at which 55 individuals participated. Feedback gathered all workshops showed a majority (85%) of attendees would implement the internal audit in their business activities; esthetics, escapism, and education were ranked in that order as elements to add; 90% stated they would share the workshop materials with staff. However, the number one obstacle was identified as to be lack of time (51%) followed by the need for additional money (13%). Comments collected after the workshops requested more examples of how to implement the recommendations and use the data from the project specifically for an individual business.

The internal audit worksheet prepared to be self-administered by agri-tourism businesses is attached in the Objectives/Performance Targets section above. Heeding the feedback gathered from the 39 attendees to the two grant sponsored workshops, the four power point decks were condensed to one single presentation and is also attached in Objectives/Performance Targets section above.

Feedback gathered from three 90-minutes workshops was used to create an electronic survey of all businesses in the study database to assess changes in business strategies. Of the thirty-three e-survey respondents, 60% did not attend a workshop with scheduling conflicts the most frequently reported reason why. Of those attending, 88.8% reported that the study findings improved their understanding of wine tourists’ expectations, fully six months post-workshop; all attendees, with the exception of one, reported having added or have planned to add a new strategic partnership with another business to enhance the visitor experience. Adding an educational (44%) and entertainment (44%) element to their business were the two most frequently cited enhancements made.

Participation Summary

Education & Outreach Activities and Participation Summary

Participation Summary:

Education/outreach description:

All of the cooperating organizations have been provided the educational materials for dissemination to their business members and constituencies. In addition to the significant media coverage generated by the researchers, several academic publications have been written and submitted to peer-reviewed journals. One article entitled “A supply-side stakeholder analysis of rural wine tourism development: The case of Lake Erie’s Southern Shore” has been accepted for publication in a special interest issue focusing on niche tourism of the International Journal of Social Ecology and Sustainable Development ( Another article "Dimensions of wine tourists' experiences, memories, satisfaction and loyalty intention" is under review by an international hospitality journal and an article for submission to the Journal of Cooperative Extension has been drafted to be submitted for consideration in September 2013.

The primary investigator has submitted proposals to speak at state-wide tourism conferences in New York and Pennsylvania for 2014 on the grant’s outcomes and present the educational materials.
Dr. Quadri will also reprise the workshop at the third annual Wine Tourism Conference in Portland, Oregon November 2013. For more information, see
Read the following blog post for more on the conference presentation.

Project Outcomes

Project outcomes:

Attendance at workshops created for farmers and agri-toruism operators was less than anticipated to the two workshops originally planned as part of the grant (expected: 50/attended: 39). However, a third workshop funded and supported by the Erie CVB and Wine Trail had 55 attendees. Surveys investigating the changes in business strategies based on the workshop fell short of the desired response. Of over 500 emails sent, 33 business operators responded. When asked why they did not attend a workshop, a scheduling conflict was reported as the number one reason, while being “unaware” of the seminars and viewing the topic “unrelated” to business goals were equal as the number two reason.

Community awareness about the project and linkages of tourism to agriculture in the area were heightened by strong local press coverage of the grant and project. Press coverage about the workshops was generated both in advance of the workshops to promote attendance, between the two workshops, and after the second workshop by a local Erie, PA television news program, Erie Times News, and local New York weekly newspaper (see links below).

The Cornell University Small Farm Quarterly featured the grant and outcomes in its Fall 2012 issue.

This grant and research study helped to renew and heighten interest in the local rural wine tourism product by media and is evidenced by the excellent response to the consumer survey (over 1300 total survey responses were collected). The majority survey respondents came from the tri-state area and serve as the most likely visitors to return and to influence new visitors from their geographic location (See distribution map.) These responses may point to local pride and consumer attraction to the wine tourism product in the Chautauqua-Lake Erie region.

Additionally, the primary investigator was nominated and honored with an international award in tourism marketing from the Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International in January 2013 for her 2012 work on wine tourism marketing and this research. Dr. Quadri was named one of the Top 25 Extraordinary Minds in Sales & Marketing 2012 by HSMAI bring more attention to the NESARE grant program and to the agri-tourism region of Chautauqua-Lake Erie. More information about this may be found at:

Assessment of Project Approach and Areas of Further Study:

Potential Contributions

Whereas all 50 of the United States have licensed, bonded wineries, not all possess the critical mass to generate economic vitality as a wine destination. Other rural communities seeking to diversify and expand the economic viability of grape-growing regions may replicate this study or use this data to educate the business community about the needs and wants of wine tourist. Subsequently, they are able to create a more attractive destination and tourism product to create the memorable, positive experiences that encourage repeat visits, recommendations of visitors, and purchasing of wine and farm products post-vacation.

Calling attention to the value of the rural wine tourism experience through media and education of both the business community and residents supports the sustainable development of expanding rural wine tourism opportunities. To date, the primary researcher has received two inquiries for guidance from researchers preparing grant applications with similar rural communities, wine business and consumer experience, as their focus.

Stakeholder collaboration has been found to be dependent on mutual understanding and access to information (Bramwell & Sharman, 1999), and cooperation and collaboration among stakeholders have been linked to sustainable tourism development (McKercher, 1993). With nearly 90% of all workshop attendees and survey respondents reporting that they better understand what wine tourists value the grant has contributed to the knowledge base necessary for better business decisions. Supporting this is the fact that 89% of workshop participants shared the educational materials with staff and business partners thereby potentially extending the knowledge base throughout their organizations. Local community organizations endorsed the dissemination of the materials underscoring the value of the knowledge prepared for the rural business community. As evidenced by the participants (89%) planning to work with another business to enhance visitor experience and their desire to learn more about how to partner successfully (58%) there is a willingness and appreciation to collaborate.

The last farmer and tourism business survey was created in collaboration with the Chautauqua-Lake Erie wine trail leadership. Questions were added to the survey to identify if further educational workshops would be of interest to the rural business community, what types of topics would be of interest, and how to best produce training materials. These questions were outside the scope of the original proposal but of value to the grant collaborators and to future educational endeavors related to sustainable community and partnership development. The topics most of interested to the agri-tourism operators is marketing through social media and creating partnerships with local businesses (58% each), followed by marketing to the travel and wine trades (47% and 37%, respectively), and to the restaurant business (26%) and service training for staff (21%). These are topics for future educational efforts by local business development organizations such as the Wine Trail and future grant applicants.

Farmers and agri-tourism business reported wanting to further partner with other business to enhance the consumer experience subsequently strengthening the overall value proposition of the entire destination. This underscores the type of critical mass needed to attract tourists to rural destinations.

By focusing communication and education on the rural wine tourists’ overall experience of the region rather than an individual’s business offerings, enhanced community cooperation was engendered. Additionally, wineries and grape farmers discovered the essential attraction by tourist lies in the natural beauty of the rural landscape and therefore, efforts to preserve and promote this natural feature is a overarching contribution of the study.


Bramwell, B., &Sharman, A. (1999). Collaboration in local tourism policy making. Annals of Tourism Research, 26(2), 392–415.

McKercher, B. (1993). The unrecognised threat to tourism. Tourism Management, 14(2), 131–136.

Future Recommendations

More time and effort to adequate collect data from farmers and businesses should be budgeted for in future grant applications. The time and energy for this aspect of the grant, including efforts to publicize the workshops, and post-workshop survey, were underestimated.

Support and collaboration of local business organizations such as chambers of commerce and convention and visitors bureau were invaluable to the successful achievement of the grant objectives. Any organization that was made aware of the study through word of mouth and through local media and contacted the investigators were incorporated into the research process and acknowledged in all communications.

A benchmarking economic impact study of the wine tourist’s contribution to the local economy may provide farmers and other businesses more impetus to embrace consumer enhancements in their businesses as a means to improve the sustainability of the rural grape farming lifestyle. Lower than expected turnout at workshops indicates that there may be a gap between how farmers and agri-tourism businesses perceive the value of enhancing the consumer’s experience and the data that was presented.

The grant award called for presentation of the research findings; however, the audience was more interested in the recommendations drafted by the researchers from the data than the results. Therefore, more time and focus of the preparation of the action elements of the educational materials is warranted and less attention to preparation of the foundational data. Researchers working with farmers, and in this case grape growers, may expect to spend a great more time in the field getting to know the community and explain the mission of the study and its outcomes as a way to solicit greater response to events.

Video lessons delivered in a YouTube channel or other media sharing platform would be helpful; the time poverty and 40 mile span of the wine region studied made it difficult to disseminate the material through workshops; however, workshops, because they bring a community of stakeholders together, are still a vital component in creating the collaboration that successful, sustainable, rural agri-tourism requires.

Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.