“When you look at a business like ours, we certainly could have made a decision to just stay the course,” Scott says. “But when you look at the craft beer movement, you look at what young people are interested in. You can’t just look at your customer base today, you have to say, ‘Who’s my customer tomorrow and the year after that?’”
The Still House, a coffee house by day and a cocktail lounge by night, is debuting this year as a result of recognizing that young people — millennials — are interested in products other than wine. It gives guests more options during their stay, while further boosting tourism by offering another experience for guests. But Scott says even The Still House preserves the winery component.
“Some of the initial spirits have a wine component to them, and we’re doing that by design because we want to tie it back to the original product,” he says.
The coffee house component of The Still House is also an idea that came from outside the family … sort of.
Scott says employees approached Ted with the idea that Gervasi should have a coffee shop, so they put together a business plan that showed how it would be complementary to the overall amenities. The family liked it, and Gervasi was in the coffee business.
“We said, ‘Let’s go out and create a new product,’ which is our own brand of coffee, which now is served in all of our outlets, and even K-Cups in the hotel. We only serve our coffee product, and we just released that last year in preparation for the Still House Coffee House,” Scott says.
The sheer popularity of Gervasi has required that the property adapt in other ways. For example, the growth curve of its hotels flattened recently because the only capacity left is on weekdays during the winter. Most weekends in the peak season from May through October are booked months in advance.
“We’re barely touching the tourism business on the weekends,” Scott says. “We’re losing corporate retreats and guests because we’ve got the meeting space and we have all the experiences in dining, but they want 30 rooms and we have 24.”
Increasing the number of rooms to 48 has moved the resort to another threshold.
“Now you’ve solidified yourself as a real resort opportunity for a two-night stay. And (people) travel farther for that,” he says.
While the Gervasi property still has some green space left, Scott says he feels like the latest additions complete the estate. The opportunities now lie in how they keep it all interesting and create new experiences within the existing infrastructure, rather than keep adding more.
“One of the things that motivates me, I always tell our staff, is the fear of it all going away,” Scott says. “I never feel like we can just say, ‘Yeah, they’ll keep coming.’ I feel like we have to earn it every day.”
» Customer suggestions can yield profitable ideas.
» Understand your identity and build to suit it.
» Be willing to move quickly when inspiration strikes.