>Road Trips, Metaphors, and Remarkable Customer Experiences


I’ve written before on the power of metaphors in transforming how you think about your business. And just last week I demonstrated how you can use metaphors to frame a remarkable customer experience in this free webinar. But it’s real-life proof you want, don’t you? And I have it for you in the form of a road trip.


Road trip is the metaphor used to frame the experience at the 20nine Restaurant and Wine Bar in San Antonio, Texas. Inspired by the famed Highway 29 that runs through the heart of Napa Valley, a trip to 20nine is a memorable road trip through a remarkable wine and food experience.

“Everyone loves a road trip,” says 20nine co-owner Marisa Fulmer, “and wine is all about geography.” Fulmer, along with husband Troy, use the road-trip metaphor to frame the customer’s experience, creating memorable magic spots throughout the evening. There are maps of wine regions, like the one pictured above, throughout the restaurant. But the metaphor is no more evident than in the “Road-Trip” wine tastings offered by 20nine.

Customers are presented with several possible wine road-trip itineraries. These road trips are actually flights of wine, organized by geography, such as “Oregon Pinot Noirs” or “Amazing California Zins.” On the road trip, customers receive three, 2 ounce glasses of wine for the price of one full glass. Along with the three glasses, customers are presented with their take-home “road-map” of tasting notes. These road trips are not ordinary, every-day bottles of wine. Some are only available through the winery, and not sold by local retailers. But 20nine also has a retail license, so if you like one of the bottles you can purchase it on the spot and take home a souvenir from your road trip. Fulmer says the road trips have become so popular, that 20nine regulars go to other restaurants requesting a “road-trip.”

It may seem strange to pretend your business is something that it really isn’t; “My restaurant is a road trip.” But really, it opens your mind to new possibilities and provides the spark for creating a memorable customer experience. Trying to be the best upscale wine restaurant would simply make you look like most other upscale restaurants that serve wine, and would yield an experience mostly like all those other restaurants.

Using metaphors puts you on a different playing field, separates you into a new, exclusive category. What metaphors can you use for your business? What is your business?

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