Rick Libby serves as the president of Traveling Vineyard, a company that uses network marketing and tasting parties to sell award-winning wine. He has held leadership positions at a variety of successful businesses for over three decades. In the past, Libby worked at Student Advantage, Marriott, MoveCentral and Cendant Corporation. He bought Traveling Vineyard in 2010. Today, the company has more than 5,000 independent marketers known as “wine guides.” Rick Libby recently answered a series of questions regarding his business.
How did you develop the concept for Traveling Vineyard?
It happened about 16 years ago. I was working for Geerlings and Wade, a firm that sold wine through a catalog. The company wanted me to boost revenue by creating a new sales strategy. I had a discussion with a friend who told me that his wife had successfully used in-home demonstrations to market kitchenware. He suggested selling wine in the same manner. I decided to give it a try, and the new strategy quickly resulted in greater sales.
Does your company continue to develop and implement new ideas?
Yes. We encourage everyone to think in creative ways and share innovative ideas. Our business introduces new concepts or technology on a yearly basis. For example, the Awesomm mobile software enables wine guides to easily process orders and perform other important tasks at any time. Traveling Vineyard has also developed a unique system known as Sommology. It helps guides pair food with wines and arrange beneficial tastings.
What strategies do you use to maintain your company’s prosperity, and how do you schedule an average day?
I always strive to ensure that Traveling Vineyard continues to serve as a pioneer in the wine industry. If we want to remain successful, we can’t afford to ignore new ideas and fall behind other companies. It’s vital to take calculated risks.
I devote about 50 percent of a normal day to immediate tasks. During the remaining hours, I work toward strategic goals. I also set aside time to communicate with staff members and guides on a daily basis.
When did you experience a major disappointment in the business world? What did you learn in the process?
I partnered with fellow entrepreneurs to launch an enterprise during the 1980s. Unfortunately, we didn’t have adequate funding. The firm had too little cash to survive until it became profitable. I learned that businesses must plan for high initial expenses and gradual increases in revenue.
What recreational activities do you enjoy when you’re not working?
I like to sail, ride a motorcycle and go scuba diving. To stay in shape, I engage in CrossFit exercises. It’s also important to learn new things by setting aside some time for reading. Patrick Lencioni is an author I strongly recommend. He offers some valuable advice on managing any business with employees.
Do you believe that Traveling Vineyard has a promising future?
Yes. Every year, more and more Americans drink wine. Although some types of beverage sales have fallen, U.S. retailers reported that wine revenue increased by almost 5 percent in 2016. This drink has also become more popular among craft beer enthusiasts. Traveling Vineyard offers the most interesting, fun and convenient way to purchase wine.
Do you use internet-based services or computer software that you’d like to recommend?
HubSpot helps us develop relationships with customers. Its automated system can track several different kinds of leads, and the service enables us to maximize every lead’s value. I recommend the Zoom conferencing program as well. This app works dependably and most people learn to use it without much difficulty.
What sort of relationship does Traveling Vineyard have with its wine guides?
Our company continually finds effective new ways to train, advise and encourage guides. At the same time, I strongly oppose the introduction of unnecessary rules or restrictions. I understand that personal freedom attracts entrepreneurs to Traveling Vineyard. They don’t want to wear uniforms or have someone tell them to work a certain number of hours.
What values and goals have made it possible for the company to succeed?
We genuinely care about guides, employees and customers. Traveling Vineyard doesn’t throw around empty slogans or use confusing fine print to escape our obligations. I recognize the importance of appreciating and respecting people rather than taking them for granted. Although financial compensation plays an important role, our company also focuses on other priorities. It adopts flexible policies while promoting friendship and fun.
Traveling Vineyard’s Advantages
Rick Libby’s business model enables his company to sell wine in thousands of towns and cities throughout the nation. It doesn’t need to buy expensive TV advertisements or fight for shelf space in stores. Instead, wine guides earn generous commissions by selling beverages and recruiting new marketers. They can choose to work part or full time. The company directly ships its exclusive products to buyers, so there’s no need for guides to purchase a lot of equipment or supplies.
Customers benefit from this system as well. Before buying wine, they have the opportunity to sample different varietals and discover what product they like best. People also enjoy fun tasting events and learn about food pairings from knowledgeable consultants. The company website refers buyers to local guides who can tell them about the next party. Prospective marketers and customers may learn more by clicking here.