Maximize your Success at Trade Fairs

As the number of liquor brands has increased, so has the complexity for buyers and sellers to meet and discover new opportunities. Trade fairs and trade exhibitions are events that can bring buyers and sellers together in one place, adding value by connecting potential business partners.

This article looks at the activities suppliers can take during the 5 key phases of a trade fair (including in the months before and after). Given the costs can add up when you consider entry fee, stand to build, marketing material, travel, samples logistics and time out of office, getting a strong ROI requires careful planning and smart execution.

Types of trade fairs

Trade fairs are big business so there should be no doubt in your mind why a trade fair is being held – 99% of the time it is a profit-making enterprise. That’s not a bad thing at all, the long-term success of a trade fair is fully dependent of exhibitors having success and signing on for the next year, and for buyers to get value from access to those suppliers in one place. If an organizer can achieve this and make a good profit, everyone wins.

Choosing the right fair can be hard – you should consider what you are aiming to achieve with your brand and what sales outcomes you are looking for.

There is no point investing in an exhibition just for the sake of being involved, it should always be a building block of your brand and/or sales plan.

That said, there are different types of liquor fairs /exhibitions:

B2B – producers, distributors and wholesalers to retailers and on trade
focused on gaining listings on-premise and rangings in retail.
B2B – producers, and importers to distributors and wholesalers
focused on gaining new distributors and wholesaler listings
B2C – Producers, distributors, and retailers to consumers
focused on building brand awareness and direct consumer relationships

For any business model, you’ll be able to find fairs and exhibitions that meet your brand and sales objectives.

The 5 Phases of A Trade Fair

In broad terms there are 5 distinct phases of each trade fair, 2 before, 1 during and 2 afterward:

1.    Annual trade fair activity plan and communication
2.    Preparation – 3 months out
3.    The fair
4.    Follow up – 14 days afterward
5.    Follow up – 1 to 6 months afterward

Phase 1: Annual Activity Plan

As part of your annual marketing or sales plan, you should choose and book into the trade fairs that match your strategic outcomes. Popular fairs get filled up very quickly so it’s best to book as far out as possible.

Having a long lead time has many benefits on top of making the administration and logistics easier. Importantly your sales team can communicate to customers and leads your planned attendance at their local fair. If you don’t visit a market often you can continuously mention ‘let’s meet at the fair’ to drum into them both your company’s reach as well as your support of their local event.

Long time frames also enable you to book market visits and trade activity on the back of the fair well in advance, to ensure you can maximize your trip and follow up potential.

One marketing opportunity not to miss is the official brochure or catalog, whether in print or online. This should not be left to the admin team! Let your trade marketing or sales specialists determine the best information to go here and use as much detail as you can.

Remember visitors prepare their visit via the information at hand which will generally be the fair’s website or brochure, so make sure your brand is communicated with the key target visitors in mind.

Phase 2: Preparation – Last 3 months

While your administration and logistics preparation should start earlier, your sales and marketing promotion of the fair can commence 3 months out. This is by far the most important time. These 3 months will determine the success or failure of your trade fair
– yes you can guarantee failure before the doors even open!

Many buyers will know they are attending the fair months out but will not commit to meetings till the last 2 weeks. This is important because you must make sure you are front of mind when the time for bookings comes as well as be interacting with them enough to catch them when they start making bookings.

This is also the time to add some information (depending on need) to your website, price books, promotional activity and email signature. It’s also a good time to speak to

PR about trying to get some press about your stand in the fair. A new release, new range or change in packaging can be enough of a vehicle to build a story around. Remember the PR activity should be planned early but not released until around the last week before the fair for maximum impact.

Booking in your current customers and ongoing leads can be done via phone or email, starting around 4 weeks out. This might be too early for them to commit to specific times but it allows you to get engagement early.

Target customers should be contacted as personably as possible, in person or via a phone meeting. Ideally, you warm up your targets using your voice before your resort to emails.

Your communication to entice new leads to your stand should start soft and as the fair gets closer, get more serious. Bear in mind that cold leads are often not going to reply to you but with a bit of persistence and careful communications, you can make sure they’re fully aware of your attendance.

Again, depending on your outcomes, you should have plenty of solid meetings locked in with key people before you get to the fair. Remember – once at the fair you can’t control who comes and visits.

You should also look at what metrics you’ll use to judge the success of the fair – new business developed, the proportion of key targets met, new distributions etc. Make them relevant to the reason you chose the fair in the first place and communicate the goals throughout your team.

During the weeks before the fair, you should have prepared an agenda for all important meetings you’ve managed to book in. Put together all the information and marketing material and have it within easy reach throughout the fair.

You and your team should also agree on key messages you want to impart to the trade, deals or products to focus on or which marketing materials to use. Consistency is key to successful marketing so having all team members working with the same material will make your message more powerful.

Phase 3 – Showtime

Always visit the venue the day before the fair opens, there’ll usually be a window for exhibitors to set up the stand. Even if you have a prebuilt stand don’t leave anything to chance! Make sure everything is ready the night before to reduce stress and activity on the day.

If there are a few team members attending it’s well worth organizing a prep meeting the morning of the fair. Go through important meetings, key people who each team

Member is focused on (so that if they are spotted walking by you all know to grab them) and the meeting schedule.

Depending on your stand you might allocate meeting spaces to specific people or meetings, it’s important that when key buyers visit you can quickly and smoothly move them to a comfortable space.

A handy tip is to get to know your neighbor’s on a first name basis (especially if they are not direct competitors). This gives you an ally if you run out of water or glasses – plus you can recommend each other to buyers to keep them in your area longer.

During the day it’s important to keep yourself available for pre-booked meetings but to keep flexible as timings always get stretched after the first 30 minutes. Be prepared for buyers who don’t show on time or don’t even show on the right day!

Take notes about everyone you meet so they can be added to your CRM for future reference / follow up. Either write notes on the buyer’s business card or number business cards as you get them and use that number to reference the note in your notebook.

After each meeting give yourself a couple of minutes to review what was said and write down more detailed notes. Highlight items you’ve committed to following up on.

Keep hydrated! You’re on your feet for most of the day, talking for hours on end and often tasting with your customers to keep your fluids up. Also, don’t forget to fuel up with food whenever you get a quick break.

Make the most of the evenings as well. While the day is great for business, the evenings are ideal for relationship building – and some of the best relationships get developed in bars and restaurants.

Follow Up – The 14 days after the fair

Your buyers get back to their offices in the days after the fair and are met with a mountain of work that they need to catch up on. You are in the same situation but now is the time to focus on follow up.

The first week after a fair is critical to keeping the momentum going with active leads and staying front of mind. Priorities acting on commitments you’ve made, your key target buyers and the warmest leads on your to-do list.

This is also a good time to get a follow-up PR story out about how successful the fair was for you – have it written well beforehand so it’s not a distraction now.

In the second week after the fair, you can send another follow-up email with photos of the event, success stories or linking to any media attention you’ve generated. Do what it takes to keep the momentum going.

A review meeting with the whole team is a good way to work on improving your performance each year. On top of assessing the actual performance v the metrics, you set prior to the show you can write down reminders for next year and take on board how other exhibitors set themselves apart.

Follow up – 1 month +

You’ll naturally keep activity going where new business opportunities have been developed, however, it’s important not to let new people you’ve met go completely cold. Just because you couldn’t get activity happening right away, it doesn’t mean these buyers aren’t interested, it’s often just a matter of timing. Their business runs on its own time, not yours.

Start a trickle communications strategy to your warm leads once the 14-day mark has passed, not necessarily asking for a sale but keeping your business front of mind so when opportunities do open up, you’ll be one of the suppliers getting a call.

Other considerations:

Presentations – exhibitors can sometimes host presentations on their area of expertise to educate visitors – this is a wonderful opportunity to showcase your specialty. One consideration here – do you have a presenter who can engage rather than bore people?

Stand layout – carefully consider your business outcomes and brand identity when designing your stand. The more open tasting benches you have, the more tasting visitors you’ll get; the more information on walls, the longer people will stand staring at them (and potentially blocking walkways). Do you have a space for private meetings?

Who to take – if the goal is to develop new business then take salespeople, if its to grow your brand then send marketing people. If you are meeting important customers it’s often best to have an owner or senior manager there.


Success at trade fairs very much comes from strong preparation, you can’t just show up and expect to have buyers lining up to meet with you. The follow up is almost as important because potential new customers have their own time frames and you need to still be front of mind when the opportunity arrives.

All in all trade fairs are an expensive and labor-intensive way of developing new business, but if you approach them right, you can make them supremely worthwhile.

Original article was published on BTN Academy

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Top 12 Major International Wine Trade Shows & Events

Are you looking to exhibit to Top Major International Wine Trade Shows for your wines and grow your distribution at some of the largest trade shows in the world?  Here is a list of the leading wine fairs from Europe, Asia and North America.


International wine trade shows are invaluable platforms for wine brand owners to develop their contact base and build brand recognition.  Whether you are a global supplier or a local label looking to boost your sales, exhibiting at large wine fairs and playing host to important representatives from worldly importers, distributors and retailers can give your brand a big boost towards expanding distribution in your target markets.

Successfully attending trade shows means understanding the nature of the business and figuring out what event best suit your company’s needs.  Take the time to determine what markets you want to explore and then plan your trade show attendance well in advance.

To help you figure out what trade shows are best for you, we’ve compiled the world’s leading wine trade tastings and fairs in Europe, North America and Asia and outlined the strengths of each.

Here We define the list of International Wine Trade Shows.

International Bulk Wine and Spirits Show London:

The International Bulk Wine and Spirits Show in London aims to give the bulk trade and private label business a truly dynamic trading platform where buyers can confidently conduct business with the world’s most reputable suppliers. IBWSS exhibitors are wineries, breweries, and distilleries looking to sell bulk wine, bulk spirits, contract brewing or private label programs.

Event details for IBWSS London:


Location: The Royal Horticultural Halls, London, UK

International Bulk Wine and Spirits Show – San Francisco:

ibwss-international bulk wine and spirits show

The International Bulk Wine and Spirits Show in San Francisco aims to give the bulk trade and private label business a truly dynamic trading platform where buyers can confidently conduct business with the world’s most reputable suppliers. IBWSS exhibitors are wineries, breweries, and distilleries looking to sell bulk wine, bulk spirits, contract brewing or private label programs.

Event details for IBWSS San Francisco:


Location: South San Francisco Conference Center, SF, USA

International Wine Fairs in Europe


vinitalyVinItaly is the largest wine trade show in the world and features over 150,000 annual visitors from 210 countries, 4,000 exhibitors, 2,600 journalists from 46 countries, and thousands of buyers from North America, Europe, Asia, Oceania, Africa and Latin America,

The trade fair grounds span an impressive 88,226 square meters and house  expansive halls from all of the major wine growing countries of the world.  Tasting Areas, Seminars and booth visits are just the tip of this humongous wine event.  An extremely important in the world of wine, brand owners looking to go international should consider exhibiting as vinitaly.

Event details for VinItaly:


Location: Veronafiere, Verona, Italy

Prowein is Germany’s largest trade show for wine professionals and boasts an impressive reputation as one of the world’s leading networking events.  The b2b event recently celebrated it’s twenty year anniversary and has consistently grown year after year.

In 2015, exhibitors totaled 5,981 and there were over 50,000 visitors in attendance, all representing importers, distributors, restaurants, bars, caterers, media and trade.  30,000 of those visitors came from Germany, while 20,000 traveled from around the world to attend the event.   The event spans over 67,000 square meters and offers attendees a truly exciting look into the world of wine in Germany.

Event details for Prowein:


Location: Dusseldorf, Germany
London Wine Fair
London_Wine_FairThe London Wine Fair (LWF) has been the leading event in the UK since 1981 and now hosts more than 11,000 international visitors.  Focused on trade only, LWF exhibitors showcase more than 10,000 wines from over 80 countries over three days.

There are five ways to exhibit at London Wine Fair.  You can participate on the floor with with three different types of stand-alone stands (the Shell Scheme, Space Only, or Wines Earthed). You can also book to exhibit On a Table (the micro-importers area ‘esoterica’, or the invitational only tasting area ‘The VIEW Tastings’).

Event details for London Wine Fair:


Location: Kensington, Olympia, London, England
vinexpoVinexpo Bordeaux 2015 featured 2,350 exhibitors showcasing wines from 42 different wines.  There were 48,500 visitors who came from 151 countries and attended over 96 different conferences and tastings throughout Vinexpo.

Needless to say, it is one of the largest wine events in Europe.  From the very depths of French wine country, the event always attracts some of the industry biggest names and is considered to be the place to be if you want to develop your business in France and beyond (especially China which, saw a +14% increase in visitor numbers).

Event details for VinExpo:


Location: Bordeaux, France
USA Trade Tasting and Business Conference
USATT_banner_490x600_0115_1USA Trade Tasting (USATT) is an annual adult beverage trade/specialist trade tasting and business conference launched in order to promote sustainable growth in the independent beverage industry by helping boutique wineries, craft breweries, craft distilleries, importers, distributors, retailers and beverage companies learn, source and grow. The show is produced by which is one of the world’s leading platform connecting wineries, breweries, distilleries to importers and distributors globally.

The USATT showcases exciting wines, beers and spirits from all over the world to USA importers, wholesalers, distributors, retailers and press.

Event details for USA Trade Tasting:


Location: Metropolitan Pavilion, New York, New York, USA
WSWA Convention
wswaThe Wine and Spirit Wholesalers Association Convention is one of the biggest events in the USA and services large distribution houses and their members.  For over seventy two years the event has celebrated the success of the wine and spirits industry in the USA.

The event attracts 2,300 attendees and offers a variety of programs and competitions throughout the fair for visitors and exhibitors to explore.  Their Tasting Competition, hosted by leading industry media houses ‘The Tasting Panel Magazine’ and ‘The Somm Journal,’ is one of the most important in the USA.

Event details for Wine and Spirits Wholesalers Association Convention:


Location: Grand Lakes, Orlando, Florida, USA

Hong Kong International Wine and Spirits Fair
hong_kong_international_wine_fairOne of Asia’s premiere events in the wine and spirits space, the Hong Kong International Wine and Spirits Fair showcases a large selection of wine, beer and spirits to local trade representatives from Hong Kong and Asia.

The event draws more than 1000 exhibitors and 30,000 visitors from over 75 countries. Wine duties in Hong Kong were eliminated in 2008 creating a huge boom in the HK market and the Wine Fair organized by the HKTDC has really benefited from the recent growth.  A must attend event for any brand looking to enter Hong Kong.

Event Info for the Hong Kong International Wine and Spirits Fair:


Location: Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre
Shanghai International Wine and Spirits Exhibition
Shanghai_International_Wine_ExpoAlso known as WinExpo, the Shanghai International Wine and Spirits Exhibition hosts approximately 1000 suppliers from 40 different countries and over 100,000 trade visitors.  

The event is considered one of the best purchasing fairs in Asia and holds a very good reputation as a leading trade show in China.   With major exhibits being featured in the Imported Wine Show Area, Wine Tasting Area and Wine Service Area, the fair gives international brands a chance at developing their sales network in Shanghai and across China.

Event info for The Shanghai International Wine and Spirits Exhibition (WinExpo):


Location: Shanghai Everbright Convention & Exhibition Center
China International Wine and Spirits Exhibition
interwineThe China (Ghangzhou) International Wine and Spirits Exhibition is also run under the trade name Interwine and is one of the largest fairs in China. With over 2,000 exhibitors from 72 countries, 50,000 visitors, and an exhibitors area totaling more than 50,000 m2, the international exhibition hosts Chinese importers, distributors and beverage professionals from Shanghai, Hong Kong, and Beijing as well as visitors from all over Asia.  

The event was founded in 2005 and is held in the spring and fall each year and is a dynamic communication platform for wine brand owners to network with important contacts in the Asian network.

Event info for The China International Wine and Spirits Exhibition (Interwine):


Location: China Import & Export Fair Complex, Area B, Guangzhou, China


Wine and Gourmet Japan

tokyo_wine_and_GourmetWine and Gourmet Japan is the largest and most influential wine fair in Japan.  Visitors to the event are primarily tradespeople such as importers, distributors, restaurant owners, retailers, caterers and bar owners.

With innovative programs like the Wine and Food Pairing, Label Contest, Seminars, Night of Wines, and Value-Added Side programs, Wine and Gourmet Japan offers exhibitors various ways to interact with buyers and visitors and increase brand exposure in the Japanese market.

Event information for Wine and Gourmet Japan:


Location: Tokyo Big Sight (Tokyo International Exhibition Center)

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