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Top tips for trade shows

Learn how to connect with export partners and make the most of international events.

What are trade shows and why attend?

Trade shows are an excellent forum to meet key export partners and develop or enhance business relationships. They are an opportunity to showcase your wine to influential buyers, importers, distributors, wholesalers, sommeliers and media from all over the world.

There are countless benefits to attending trade shows. They allow you to meet more buyers in less time, generate leads and capitalise on media opportunities. Buyers are often more receptive during face-to-face events, so you have a better chance of locking in deals than with cold calling. Trade shows are also a good way to do market research, understand the local retail market and business culture, or discover emerging trends. 

That said, a lot of planning, time and money goes into attending an international trade show and you need to be committed to following up new leads after the event. Consider the following statements to assess if you’re ready to exhibit at an international trade show, and if it’s the right event for your export goals: 

  • My target buyers are attending the event 
  • I know my wine and brand meet the needs of the market and buyers
  • It’s a reputable event recommended by industry contacts or supported by Wine Australia
  • I have time to prepare for the event and follow up on leads afterwards
  • I’ve looked at event costs such as airfares, hotels, exhibitor fees, spending money, marketing and samples and believe it’s a good return on investment.

Once you’ve ticked these off and know what you want to achieve, it’s a good idea to set measurable goals such as: 

  • making a specific number of new contacts
  • meeting a set number of existing contacts
  • gaining competitive information; and
  • discovering market trends, etc.  

While in-person trade shows are likely to remain a critical part of wine exports, virtual trade shows and platforms like Australian Wine Connect are becoming increasingly popular. See our tips for virtual trade shows here. 

Find upcoming shows and events

Check out our events page to see what’s coming up

Pre-event: How to prepare for a wine trade show

Managing the logistics

Event organisers should provide you with clear exhibitor communications and pre-event information packs. Be sure to read them! They will contain a number of important to-dos and deadlines, including information about shipping samples in advance. 

Here are some tips for managing pre-event logistics: 

  • Get with the program: Review the event schedule closely to ensure you don’t miss out on any opportunities and pre-schedule your appointments. 
  • Book travel arrangements well in advance: Discounted accomodation is often available through event organisers. 
  • Check your paperwork: On top of visas, some markets require you to have permits or certifications in order to serve and promote alcohol. This all has to be done in advance, so leave yourself plenty of time to apply. 
  • Dress to impress: Consider if you should wear a branded uniform and whether you need to order anything new.
  • Take advantage of promotional opportunities: Trade shows will often have marketing support including public relations, influencer outreach, social media and media partnerships. Jump on these opportunities and join the online conversation, making note of hashtags such as #aussiewine. Don’t forget to tell your existing audience you’ll be attending the event. 
  • Plan your booth: Get details on the dimensions, location and layout of your stand so you can design your display accordingly. Remember to plan what you’re going to promote. Are you offering wines that are relevant to attendees? Is there a range of price points and varieties that tells an exciting story to a potential buyer? Have you included any press on the wines? 
  • Prepare your promotional materials: Consider what you’ll need for your booth and appointments, whether it’s banners, brochures or business cards. Is the pitch right for this audience? Is the imagery culturally appropriate? One tip is to create and display a QR code that allows attendees to quickly access your contact and brand information.
  • Consider translation requirements: It’s best practice in a number of markets to have your name translated and get dual language business cards and marketing collateral. You may also consider enlisting the support of a local translator with basic wine knowledge if you don’t have a local distributor or sales rep, or learning some local phrases. 
  • Ensure your digital channels meet the brief: It’s likely trade show buyers will go to your website for more information. Is it fit for purpose? Do you need a QR code for easy access? You may also need to set up a market-specific social media account, such as WeChat. 
  • Be culturally aware: It’s important you understand market-appropriate greetings and business etiquette. Do your own research, or look out for Wine Australia’s cultural awareness workshops. 

Prepping for meetings

Before the event, review the delegate lists and determine how your product may fit within their existing portfolio. From here you can identify new partner opportunities. 

Here’s a list of things you can do in advance:  

  • Make contact with buyers via email, ideally before they select their meeting preferences.
  • Maximise the pre-appointment scheduling opportunities by accurately reviewing the list of partners and ranking your meeting preferences based on your prior research. If available, use online messaging to fill gaps in your appointment schedule.
  • Line up as many meetings as possible before the actual event, whilst setting aside some ‘free time’ for impromptu meetings. Don’t rely on spontaneous foot-traffic to fill your days.
  • Prepare your presentation, remembering to keep your message short, sharp and measurable. Dot points work best as they allow you to tailor your presentation during your meetings.
  • Use visuals to showcase your product and focus on delivering a professional presentation. Proofread your presentation and practice its delivery, keeping in mind the different cultural backgrounds of potential partners.
  • Prepare notes specific to each potential partner. This will help you make a great first impression. 
  • Be ready to quickly capture contact details and information, perhaps by creating a simple template to fill in. This can also act as a prompt in discussions.
  • Consider giving partners a promotional item/gift as a further reminder of your product. If you’re planning to give wine, check whether this is allowed and culturally appropriate.

Trade show packing list

  • Delegate name badge you receive at registration
  • Appointment schedule
  • Business cards (lots!) – you can never have too many
  • Stationery kit (pens, paper, stapler, staples, scissors)
  • Your presentation on an iPad, laptop or similar
  • Chargers for phone, tablets and other devices
  • A reference copy of your marketing materials (e.g. brochure)
  • Wine opener / wine key
  • Energy snacks for you and your delegates
  • Water – replenish frequently!

At the event: How to conduct the perfect appointment

Prepare to be busy on the stand! Arrive early and be organised, ensuring you have everything set up and your wines chilled well before your first appointment. This will also give you time to familiarise yourself with the event space and onsite facilities.

Here are some top tips for conducting effective appointments:

  • Know who your buyer is before they sit down. Use your research and have a clear outline of the information or questions you need to ask.
  • Use your time wisely – listen for 80 per cent and sell for 20 per cent. Give the buyer time to ask questions throughout.
  • Pinpoint one truly amazing thing about your product and open with that. Learn how to develop your export pitch here
  • Make it relevant and avoid delivering a rehearsed spiel. Using dot points allows you to personalise your presentation.
  • Thank existing buyers. Review the sales with them, ask for any customer feedback and update them on new wines. Don't be afraid to ask why their sales have increased or decreased.
  • Make your product memorable. Even if the buyer only walks away with one piece of knowledge, as long as it stays with them, you have succeeded. Remember, you will be providing detailed information in your follow up.
  • Take notes! It's perfectly okay to take notes at trade shows – it demonstrates your commitment. Remember to note down something to help you personalise your follow up.
  • Don't give out brochures or heavy information packs – use your follow up to further showcase your product, or consider providing USB drives or links to an online resource containing your information.
  • Understand your outcomes. It's important that you have a clear idea of what you want to achieve from each appointment (remember your goal setting). Conclude each appointment by summarising your follow up actions and agreed path.
  • Seek opportunities for further discussion. Invite key partners for a drink or coffee during  free appointments, breaks or networking activities. Or simply ask them to go for a walk with you around the trade show floor.
  • Ensure your booth is attended at all times – you don’t want to miss that great ‘passing by’ opportunity.

Post-event: How to follow up

Following up is the most critical component of any trade show. Here are some key things to consider:

  • Categorise your trade show appointments/leads in order of priority and complete your follow up in this order. Timing is imperative. Follow up should be done either during or immediately after the event.
  • Each potential partner should receive a personalised follow up specifically referring to the content of your appointment or discussions. Always thank the partner for their business and ongoing support. 
  • Send all the material and information that you promised as soon as possible and maintain ongoing contact with updates.
  • Keep the buyer updated and focus on strengthening the relationship until you meet again. 
  • Add new contacts to your database and track if business is generated from them. 
  • Update your team on the outcomes of the trade show and any required actions specific to each buyer.
  • Measure your trade show success against your pre-set goals. Consider what worked, how you could improve next time, whether you met the right people and what you learnt about the market or competition.

Last but not least, be patient. It takes time to establish relationships from trade shows. But the more organised and determined you are, the faster you’ll see your efforts pay off. 

This content is restricted to wine exporters and levy-payers. Some reports are available for purchase to non-levy payers/exporters.

Levy payers/exporters
Non-levy payers/exporters
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This content is restricted to wine exporters and levy-payers. Some reports are available for purchase to non-levy payers/exporters.