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Conventions and Trade Shows worth attending?

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The WSWA convention is next week in Orlando.

Wine & Spirits Wholesales of America


Nightclub and Bar show is in Vegas.


We are not attending, but after reading about them, it prompted me to do some research.

Which conventions or trade shows do you guys find worthwhile to attend each year?

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We have attended WSWA twice as guests walking around the expo and sometimes into the hospitality suites (before they noticed we were distillers too). We wanted to get a feel for what others do in preparation for setting up our own exhibit booth and hospitality suites down the road. A couple lessons we learned from our attendance:

1.) Exhibiting at WSWA can be a valuable experience if your company is prepared to take the leap into real distribution. By prepared for real distribution, I'm mean specifically having an actual ability to produce quantity, and having real marketing and sales $$ at the ready to dump into each market you propose to enter.

2.) The hospitality suites are where actual deals get done, and what the brokers look forward to visiting the most so they can get some special attention. Without the suite, I don't think exhibiting is worth the time to attend. I think we calculated the cost of setting up an exhibit booth (10'x10'), plus having the smallest hospitality suite available, and 3 people there to try and manage both came in at like $17,000... That's not accounting for the exhibit materials, pos give aways, travel, meals, etc, etc, etc. But a deal into a new state with a broker excited about adding you to their portfolio would obviously make up for the expense....

As for NightClub and Bar, we attended one of those (i don't think it was an official NightClub and Bar show), but it was in the Jarvis Convention center in NYC. There were some seminars that were useful, Dale Degroff and Jr. Marino each hosted ones we attended. However the crowd was really more focused on the serving side of the game. If your product isn't available in the market they work in, then there is really nothing that can happen. I've had lots of people tell me "Hey, I know a bunch of bar managers in XYZ state, you should totally get your vodka there", but unfortunately it just doesn't work that way in our industry (as i'm sure most everyone on this forum already knows). If you already have the distribution setup with a broker who actually services popular locations, than attending a convention like NightClub and bar could potentially be valuable...

So, in my opinion, If you company has the resources and is ready to make the leap, WSWA is where it happens.

Also, congrats on your Double Gold at SF this year.


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  • 2 months later...

excellent topic. we've been trying to determine the added value of this shows..seems like every month a new one comes out. I'd definitely second the notion of having adequate marketing resources for new distributions.

anybody else have input on this? I've felt like we spend enough time keeping paperwork and current demand in order..

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