Transferable skills learned in the business world have paid off nicely for Sonya Konig, owner of The WineLovers’ Club based at Tinhorn Creek Estate Winery in Oliver, BC.
Four years ago, Sonya was a project and account manager for a large consulting firm, where she had a knack for developing strong relationships with her customers in a high-pressure, deadline-sensitive environment.
Today, her own business includes wine education programs, wine cellar tours, and tutored wine tastings. She has also developed several alliances with other local businesses, allowing her to offer cooking classes, spa experiences and cycling tours. Each guest’s itinerary is customized according to lifestyle and interests, and each activity is orchestrated either by Sonya directly, or by several local businesses, ensuring that execution meets the highest standards.
By establishing quality relationships with her clients, more than 30 per cent of her clientele is repeat business or customer referrals. Sonya says that customer service and a positive attitude are the most essential skills required in her business. “In today’s world, people lead a stressful life and time is of the essence. It is critical that you are always one step ahead of them, continue to be customer-driven, and attend to requests promptly. Delivering quality service coupled with something as simple as a smile goes a long way.”
Having had no formal training in the tourism industry, Sonya has taken several wine courses over the years. But most of the knowledge that she has gained in the tourism industry came from being a tourist in some 40 countries while working or travelling for pleasure. These life experiences and the “school of hard knocks” have taught her the do’s and don’ts of business.
One of the most important things she has learned is that, “if you feel passionate about what you do, the rest will come.”