Accreditation & Programs . The Light and the Shadow

The Light and the Shadow

Once upon a time … almost 10 years ago to this very day, two former South Africans called Marc and Larry opened a cellar door outside Hahndorf in the beautiful Adelaide Hills.Hahndorf Hill Winery

On the day before their cellar door opened for the very first time, Marc and Larry became aware of two mysterious energies … a radiant light and a dark shadow …. each flickering on opposite walls of their tasting room.

Now the strange thing was, only Marc and Larry could see this radiant light and this dark shadow – no one else noticed.

The radiant light sparkled with fun ideas and creative plans, and it was full of optimistic, enthusiastic energy and multi-coloured visions of the future.

Marc and Larry were drawn instinctively to this light and they immersed themselves in it, and they became thrilled with everything that lay ahead, deciding then and there to open their cellar door seven days a week and to serve food as well!

It didn’t matter to them one jot that they had never run a cellar door before, or that they had zero tourism or hospitality experience … everything felt so exciting in that radiant light!

Not surprisingly, they chose to ignore the mysterious shadow in the far corner of the tasting room, for is it not human nature to turn away from the dark and the seemingly difficult? And so the shadow remained in its corner, unacknowledged for the time being.

And it came to pass that those heady, happy days of early summer were followed by the reflective, misty days of autumn and then by the cold, wet days of an Adelaide Hills winter.

On one such wintry day, when the icy rain lashed the cellar door and the howling wind buffeted the roof, Marc stood lonely as a ghost by the cellar door window, his nose pressed right up against the window-pane, searching searching searching for a customer – any customer – to come up the driveway … but no souls were venturing out on that miserable day.

As darkness fell, and Larry came in shivering from pruning the vineyard and looking like a drowned rat, Marc told him his sad tale of no customers and no sales for that entire day.

For the first time, they both found their attention being slowly pulled towards the dark shadow that waited, ever so patiently, in the far corner of the tasting room.

What was this mysterious shadow? What lay hidden in its depths?

As they approached it, they felt its energy, which came across as ... serious and conscientious. And they realised that in contrast to the radiant light, the shadow demanded a much more meticulous approach to running their business – one involving structured planning, careful research and constructive detail.

Indeed, the virtue of the shadow was that it embraced the ideas and visions of the radiant light… but it transformed them, magically, into functional systems.

And this mysterious shadow was called …. Tourism Accreditation!

So … Marc faced up to the dark shadow and he personally took on the challenge of putting in the hours and the hard yards that were necessary, and after several months he was rewarded when his cellar door was granted its tourism accreditation and its little green tick.

And it came to be that 10 years passed, vintage following vintage, and Marc and Larry were now older and stouter, and their cellar door had became bigger too – it now required a cellar door manager and a whole team of staff.

And looking back on that long journey, Marc realised that the best thing he had ever done was to have initiated that tourism accreditation process.

It had helped ground his and Larry’s vision and their creative ideas into practical solutions and workable procedures, and ensured that their customer service and business practices always evolved towards the best level possible.

It had given them tools and templates to train staff so that all staff members knew exactly what was expected of them and everyone was able to sing professionally from the same Hahndorf Hill songbook.

And it had helped them to enter and even to win regional tourism awards, because most of the information needed for the tourism awards application was duplicated right there in the accreditation process.

So, in closing, what is the moral of this fable? It is this, my friends.

Firstly, always embrace the radiant light that you will see in your own tourism business, for within its visionary glow you will find all the enthusiasm, energy and creativity you need to take your business forward.

Secondly, always hire staff who share your vision, because they will reflect your own passion to customers and inspire you with their own ideas too.

And thirdly, but most importantly, make the time and take the effort to become friends with the shadow, for when you put in the dedicated hard work to gain and maintain your tourism accreditation, you soon realise that it has the potential to become your strongest and greatest ally.


Marc Dobson, Hahndorf Hill Winery



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