GUSTAVO ORTEGA

Mexico 2021 | TOURISM | INTERVIEW

Given that Mexico is not traditionally considered a wine-producing country, Vinícola El Cielo is investing more in marketing and technology to grow the segment in the region in the short term.

Gustavo Ortega
BIOGRAPHY

Gustavo Ortega has a degree in business administration and specializes in executive management, administration, digital marketing, and wine executive. He was previously secretary of tourism in Quintana Roo, and in the private sector he was general manager of the Hotel Allegro Cozumel. He was also director of Fonatur in Cancún and is currently President & Director General of El Cielo.

What strategies did you implement to cope with the effects of the pandemic?

We have three business lines: the hotel; the vineyards as a tourist destination; and the commercialization of wine bottles. The tourism industry was one of the most affected sectors in Mexico and around the world. Fortunately, we had advanced our e-commerce strategy and are developing our website and logistics for deliveries. As a result, between March and August 2020 we focused on strengthening our online presence through social networks and e-commerce. We have grown significantly in the commercial area as we struck an agreement with Amazon to strengthen our commercial presence. We also updated our protocols and internal documentation to prepare our workers to reopen the vineyards in August. In addition to wearing masks and using hand sanitizers, we focused on providing a more personalized service to smaller groups. The flow of people has not returned to earlier levels, but our revenue collection capacity has improved. Among other services, we launched a wine club that gives regular customers points for discounts, which helped strengthen our e-commerce offering. We also held webinars on wine tasting and hosted digital wine tasting events. Some of the events have been interesting. In November, we had a digital tasting event in which a wine expert from Spain participated. We have advanced significantly in our digital presence.

What challenges are you facing, and how are you working to position Mexican wines abroad?

I am not particularly focused at the moment on the international market. It is extremely complex, and it is difficult some markets due to nationalistic issues, or because we do not have the logistics channel for distribution. We are interested in southern California because we were receiving 200,000 tourists a year before the pandemic, and about 30% come from Orange County, Los Angeles, and San Diego. We are preparing to distribute in the US in the mid-term, though our current interest is just southern California and the Mexican market. There is great potential in Mexico, and the wine segment has still significant room to grow in the domestic market. Wine consumption is on the rise in Mexico. There are some possibilities of exporting wine to Guatemala, Colombia, and certain Mexican restaurants in China. Many international customers do not identify Mexico as a wine-producing country. Mexico is better known for tequila and mezcal. We require many years to position ourselves in the international market, which is why the most potential is in the domestic market and southern California.

What characteristics does the Mexican wine market have compared to others?

There is a middle class that is growing in Mexico, a market of young adults. The second-largest segment that consumes the most amount of wine is between 25 and 35 years old. This is not generally seen in other countries, and the market of young adults has great potential. Meanwhile, Mexico is a big beer consumer. The biggest segment for consumption is between 35 and 45 years old, then 25-35, and then individuals over 50. In terms of gender, more women visit our website than men.

What are your main targets for the year ahead?

The first goal is to continue to operate and stay afloat. We do not know what will happen. We must ensure our business is operational. Difficult times are ahead. We have seen a fall in the number of visits by tourists and consumption. Many restaurants have closed. However, retail consumption is performing well because people are drinking wine in their homes. We expect moderate growth for this year. We want to retain jobs and maintain our operations intact. We should continue to invest in technology. Meanwhile, the harvest has been excellent this year. Production has been lower, but the quality has been outstanding. We are also focusing heavily on generating online content to approach our potential customers because trends are changing.