With 46 million users, Vivino is the world’s largest wine community and the ultimate App for discovering and buying wines. Choosing wine with confidence, reading reviews and checking prices by just taking a photo of any bottle or menu — with your smartphone. https://www.vivino.com/app

Vivino is probably the best-known app for finding or selecting the right wines — when shopping or being in a restaurant. Many people know the app — but very few people should know that the creator and owner Heini Zachariassen originates from the Faroe Islands. The company with over 150 employees is based in California and Heini commutes between Copenhagen and the USA — with regular visits to his family on the Faroe Islands.

Heini’s mantra for the concept of Vivino is “Disrupting Wine” — a good reason for Visit Faroe Islands Meetings to ask him for a discussion on the meaning of the “disruption” that happened in the meeting and event industry this year — possibly even for some advice from a professional “disrupter” for dealing with the same.

That is how Heini looks at it:

Disruption in the sense of discontinuity and shaking up the ways things are usually looked at, is an important principle —  but it always needs to happen in the right context. What happened in the corona pandemic and the effects on the economy are a random, heartbreaking shake-up and demolition of individuals’ lives’ work and years of effort in the travel and event industry —  nobody really deserves that and I definitely don’t mean that when I use this term as a positive concept.

For example there is the technology that “disrupts” traditional processes and very often enables much easier handling, better experiences and unimagined solutions for the users, both in travel and for events of all kinds. During these past months we all got used to the digital exchange so quickly, and it made a lot of things easier and less complicated, which is now certainly setting a new course. But how will that affect travel in general? That is the question.

I find it very impressive, such as for example, the Visit Faroe Islands team has turned the isolated situation of the islands into a special asset to generate global interest. It started even before Corona with the Google Sheep View project, which I find simply sensational, but the virtual site inspections now during the pandemic were also great and creative. A deliberate disruption of a rooted point of view and a good example of how a supposedly fixed (location) disadvantage can be turned into a special advantage!

I can only advise other destinations to include their target groups in interactive processes. At some point the pandemic will go away and behaviour will balance off again, but on a different and new level.

I definitely believe that we will all travel less in the future. Before Corona, it often happened that you flew to another city, e.g. London, to meet an important customer. Compared to the actual meeting, this whole action was costly in terms of time and resources — for both sides. Flights, transfers, meetings, but then also lunch and coffee, hospitality in general. Now, with interactive digital tools such as zoom, it’s straight-to-the-point. You set a time and talk about the business without much back and forth. This type of digital meeting is replacing the classic variant. On the other hand, you will be more selective in picking those cherries out of the cake that are really important to you. “Cherries” which can change or enrich you. Travel with more purpose.Also,  some “transit” meetings in let us say airport hotels and the like will be superfluous in the future – will say, all formats that are either interchangeable, standardized in some form or simply boring are no longer needed.  Creativity and the development of new alternatives for such meetings develop exponentially, people can adapt quickly and maybe they want to, with the constantly growing lack of time. So, I think we will all raise the bar to travel and meetings in the future and need good reasons to do it physically. The transfer of knowledge and the exchange of experience are definitely among the good reasons for this, or extraordinary goals or places of longing.

Like the Faroe Islands?

Yes, I often ask myself why they are so special and have such a strong impact on visitors. Definitely, the Faroe Islands have dazzling dramatic beauty that you can’t really imagine before actually getting there. Nature is terrific, almost sometimes violent and dramatic. In addition, a great food scene has developed there. Naturally, I’m at home in this scene, thanks to Vivino, and restaurants such as KOKS or its offshoot Ræst in Tórshavn, which offer original island food — fermented according to a very old tradition — are a huge win. For me it feels eating there like the food in my childhood and for visitors it is a unique and high-quality experience. When I was little we didn’t have any restaurants — we knew this food from home. Now people from all over the world come to the islands to try out this cuisine, and many keep coming back. And it also contributes to high quality tourism. For all those who cannot imagine anything about our fermented cuisine, here is a little story: We, my wife (also from the Faroe Islands) and I have a favourite cheese from France that stands out due to its particularly intense fragrance. At some point we came to the conclusion that this cheese reminds us of our local food and that is why we love it so … (Heini speaks of Epoisse from Burgundy — a strong Munster cheese).

Heini, you are also a mentor and consultant for a new start-up in the Faroe Islands, the “Faer Isles Distillery”. Please tell us more about it. 

It’s actually amazing that nobody has thought of it yet. The Faroe Islands have crystal clear, cold and good water, a high salt content in the air, wind and the influence of the sea —  the best conditions for distilling and storing whiskey. Storage is a decisive factor for good whiskey, and we really have everything that it needs. Gin is also produced —  we can look forward to the result.

My advice for the end: things change and a new normal will return – you should get into it with your head held high and the willingness to adapt. It can also be very exciting.

Thank you Heini, that was a very inspiring conversation!

More about knowledge and the business community on the LinkedIn showcase of Visit Faroe Islands Meetings and on www.tmf-dialogue.net