Awhile ago, an article was posted here by one of our writers about a virtual tea tasting. Intrigued, I thought I’d give it a try. The experience was illuminating and brought to mind some of the pros and cons of such occasions. Yes, there are definitely some do’s and don’ts when holding virtual tea tastings. (None of this is meant to reflect on the company holding the tasting I was involved in. These are more general thoughts and things for you to consider should you decide to participate in or conduct such an event.)
First, what is a virtual tea tasting? Well, it’s one held online at a social site like Facebook or even Twitter (especially now that they have integrated a picture posting feature). You post your comment. Another attendee posts her/his comment. Back and forth. Simple.
Still, there are ways to do it and ways to do it, if you know what I mean. Some ways will make the experience more meaningful and fun. Other ways will make the experience one you walk away from going “Eh!” with a big shrug of the shoulders (in other words, a feeling that it was a big waste of time).
If you are the person holding the tasting event:
DO set a specific date and time for the tasting and be sure you are there on time yourself. This sounds totally obvious, but the obvious can be so obvious that it gets overlooked. Life being what it is, though, there are always understandable delays. So, if your child gets sick or the furnace explodes, just explain this to your group of tea tasters.
DON’T forget to tell attendees that date and time and where to go. For example, if you are holding this on your own blog, give them the website address (URL).
DO have all attendees commenting on the same teas. It’s impossible to compare notes otherwise, and comparing notes is a good reason to even participate in such an event.
DON’T treat the virtual tea tasting like your own personal marketing research event. You are wanting to get feedback on your teas, for sure, and on related products you may carry such as scone mixes. However, this is meant to be more of a fun event and learning experience for attendees.
DO foster an atmosphere of openness where all attendees can state their opinions, good or bad, on the teas and other products freely. The situation can be a little inhibiting, where some folks will not want to say anything negative. However, negative feedback can be more helpful to you and your company than a bunch of sunny statements like “Gee, this was a great tasting tea!”
DON’T let things get too contentious or fail to acknowledge each comment, good or bad. The attendees need to know you hear them.
If you are an event attendee:
DO show up if you have told the event holder that you will be there. Again, life being what it is, things happen, but do your best.
DON’T get personally affronted if another attendee disagrees with your take on a tea. We all have our own tastes. Being from the camp of “You don’t like that? Good, more for me”, I tend to try to keep it in mind when they don’t like what I like. “Great, more for you!”
DO try to be specific in your comments. Just saying “I liked it” is a bit too brief. How about “This lemon-flavored tea seems to avoid the pitfalls of other lemon-flavored teas. They can taste fake. This tastes like real lemon yet not overly bitter.”
DON’T worry about sounding uninformed or silly. As long as the event moderator is keeping things amiable and fun, you should just go with that. Have fun. And you’ll probably learn something but also, whether you know it or not, be able to teach something to the other attendees. I learned from my recent experience that some tea drinkers find pineapple flavored tea to be a very Fall time flavor. Intriguing!
Keep it fun, both as the event planner/moderator and as the attendee. Enjoy!
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