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Fireside chats: Tuning the Vine’s Shereen Amos and Richard Mills

Nina van den BergEvent Planning, Everything, Food & Drink, Quicket

Tuning the Vine has had notable success running their event on Quicket.

How Richard and Shereen from Tuning the Vine used a self-managed platform to make a name for their event.

Tuning the Vine has had notable success running their event on Quicket.

Photo cred: Kristen Duff | Glou Glou | Wine, for real human beings

Welcome to Fireside chats – a series of little catch-ups with event organisers that have had notable success with running their events on Quicket.

This is the first in the series, as we catch up with Richard Mills ("RM" below) and Shereen Amos ("SA" below) of Tuning the Vine to chat about the event, their approach, and how they’ve used self-managed tools to bring success to their event brand.

So if you’re in Cape Town and you haven’t heard of, or treated yourself to a Tuning the Vine experience, you absolutely should. It’s coming up again in October, so you’re in luck! Tickets can be bought here.

The event is an epic midweek wine adventure not to be missed, also known as the #InnerCityWineRoute. It takes place in Cape Town’s Innercity on the second Wednesday of every month for three consecutive months at a time. The streets of Cape Town come to life with wine-appreciation floating through the air as wine tuners walk from one venue to the next, with wine glass and map in hand, discovering unique wine tastes and experiences along the way. The route always includes the hippest venues and showcases a wide variety of delicious South African wines and talented winemakers.

Read on for the full interview with the minds behind Tuning the Vine

— NVDB: First of all, thank you for taking part in this interview. I'm mostly going to ask you a few questions about your event, the solutions you’ve used to run it and the ticketing, and the process you went through in getting those setup and going. First of all, do you have any questions?

RM: No not from my side.

SA: Me neither

NVDB: Great! Let’s begin.

— NVDB: Do you run Tuning the Vine full-time or do you keep yourselves busy with other things as well?

RM: Laughs. Other things, big time.

SA: We squeeze it in our very busy schedules of other things.

RM: I run a non-profit organisation called Street Talk, we make films for social change. Tuning the Vine is a passion project that I do on the side which is all about celebrating life and sharing this with wine.

SA: Similarly, I run my own agency called the SugarWood Studios and run Tuning the Vine in between all of that.

NVDB: Come to think of it I hardly know any organisers that run events and only run events – it seems to be something that’s usually the case with most event organisers – multiple projects, wearing many different hats.

— NVDB: So you’ve been using Quicket for a few years. Just to establish a bit of a timeline, how long has Tuning the Vine been happening for?

RM: Since 2014.

— NVDB: When you started Tuning the Vine, had you used a ticketing platform such as Quicket already?

SA: Yes but we only used Quicket from the second year of Tuning the Vine. We had used a different platform before to that.

— NVDB: And prior to that, you didn’t use anything else, perhaps something more manual, i.e. guest lists at the door, etc.

RM: No, nothing that tedious.

Digging deeper

— NVDB: Let's dig a bit into the point you started using Quicket. At which point would you say in using the previous platform did you think “This solution just isn’t cutting it,” or how did that decision come about?

SA: Well we changed the format of the event after the first year and I think that we were kind of lukewarm as far as the other platform went.

RM: They didn’t offer us the same flexibility as Quicket does. It also didn’t put the control in the event organisers hands. Everything you want to upload you have to phone them and then they upload it. Quicket is a solution that matched where we were moving to as a business.

SA: Yeah, but I mean you’ve been responsible more for that side of things.

RM: I think the decision in the beginning was very obvious but I’m not exactly sure how it happened. It was like "Sheesh you can do this on Quicket? Oh my gosh, okay!”

SA: And Quicket was helpful.

RM: They were super helpful. So we worked with Roxanne, one of the Customer Success Specialists, all the way. She’s been our number one contact, and she helped us set up our first event and get it all going, and now it’s just more a troubleshooting thing than anything else.

— NVDB: So at the time, it wasn’t more of a group decision to make the shift.

SA: Well the first event we did was a more standard event at the Lookout and we worked with an events organiser who had done wine events, and she used the other platform we tried, so she was kind of instrumental in the beginning and then we decided that we didn't want to do it like that anymore, and we changed the format of the event, and took it into our own hands and that's when Quicket came along.

— NVDB: And had you heard about self-managed platforms such as Quicket by that point? Or did you find it in looking for another ticketing solution?

SA: We were aware of it.

RM: From what I can remember – I think it was somebody else that we worked with on the event that suggested we try Quicket.

— NVDB: Was there anything specific that you expected or a perception that you had before you started using the Quicket platform?

SA: My sense is that Quicket was doing a lot of the events in our market space, so with our market space being the younger more millennial market, it felt like Quicket was a better fit for us.

— NVDB: Is there anything that you were nervous about or anxious about before using Quicket, any uncertainties you had?

RM: I think that Roxanne definitely made it unscary. Boom, boom, boom, this is how you do it. It was pretty straightforward from my point of view.

— NVDB: So nothing specific then in terms of worries around ease of use, what the response from your audience would be, or anything like that?

RM: Look I think that in the beginning, it was more about managing the ticket stations at the event, and Quicket did supply a few people that did that for us in the beginning, and that was part of their offering, and since then that's been outsourced to a company that was suggested by Quicket, and we formed a relationship with them and that works really well.

— NVDB: What would you say is the main reason - if any - that you started using something like Quicket at the time?

RM: It just seemed like the right fit for what we were doing, like from a marketing point of view, from a logistical point of view, from an ease of use point of view...

SA: And from a people point of view. We liked the people we met.

RM: And for me, also very much around the intranet, being able to go online and manage it yourself.

Then and now

— NVDB: Now that you have been using Quicket for a number of years, what would you say is the biggest benefit that you get from it as an event organiser?

SA: Maybe the proactive support that you get from Quicket. They offered us their team, they were helpful in terms of accessibility, that we're now talking cashless, you know. It feels like they are wanting to see us succeed, and with our growth they grow. It feels like it's symbiotic.

RM: And I would say from an ease of use point of view, the flexibility of the system… It offers a lot of flexibility.

— NVDB: I have to agree with you there. I’ve run events myself in the past before being part of the Quicket team and have known the people who are Team Quicket all to be people that really just want to help people create awesome experiences. Would you say that there’s a way that Quicket has helped you?

SA: Yes, Just by being proactive.

RM: Yeah they've helped us from a marketing point of view, and they've helped us on some of our campaigns. I think that the brand is well-positioned. The Quicket brand is well-positioned. I think that definitely has a subliminal offshoot onto what we do.

SA: I feel that they're aware of us and when opportunities occur, they step into the space for us.

RM: And if there's new ideas or something we seem to be one of the people that they like to test it on.

— NVDB: In terms of any expectations that you may have had before you started using the platform, how does it compare to what you expected now that you’ve used it?

RM: I think it matched my expectations

SA: I didn't know what to expect, and I suppose when Quicket steps out of what you're used to a ticketing platform doing, it's nice.

— NVDB: Would you say that it’s helped in any specific way, for example in terms of ticket sales, or any differences you’ve seen?

RM: In terms of ticket sales, of course that would be difficult to quantify. It would seem that way, but there isn’t a clear way to know.

— NVDB: Is there anything that you want someone reading this to know about Tuning the Vine?

SA: The key thing is that it's an event for millennials, and I think in that sense we're probably one of the few events that focuses on this market. That it is a fun, informative, urban, wine experience which is again- fresh and different.

RM: The first inner city winery that we know of. There's not any other wineries in the city. I think we’re also – and I don’t know if this is something to write about – but I don’t know of any other paid events in the same format that happen in the city. Do you know of any?

SA: No.

RM: So I think we’re doing something that’s quite unique and groundbreaking actually.

— NVDB: Finally, if you were each able to summarise your use of a platform like Quicket, or the benefit of using it?

SA: I would say Quicket is more than a ticketing partner, it's a business partner in a way in that they go beyond the realms of providing a ticketing service. They're also really interested in contributing to your business' success where they can, outside of the frame that you understand their role to be.

RM: The flexibility of their system allows an event organiser an enormous amount of flexibility and control over ticketing and setting up new events and managing them.

— NVDB: Thank you both for taking the time to chat with us. We’re sure that event organisers reading the Quicket blog will benefit from a glimpse into the minds behind Tuning the Vine, so thank you for the insight, and all the best for the next exciting edition of #InnerCityWineRoute adventure.

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