So I spent my weekend at the Boston Wine Expo. Now that’s a trade show! I grew up in the trade show business and understand everything that goes on. So when I go to one it always seems like work. I am so entrenched in the event business that most shows and events feel like this. I bet many of you feel the same way. But not this time, I enjoyed working and hanging at the wine expo.
The show is an annual event here in Boston. It is one of the big wine expos like the NY wine expo which opens this week. The Boston event was both Saturday and Sunday. It included the main floor with hundreds of wineries offering free tastings. The cost of the event is not cheap. A full price ticket is $85 per day. They did offer a two day combo price. I bet there were a lot of free tickets out there too.
The cue line to enter the event was very smooth and orderly. They used lots of space and stairs to break up the crowds entering. When we first got in the line on Saturday my first thought was “oh great how long is this line”? But I was very happy to see it move quickly. On your way in you pick up your real wine glass. Wow a place that gives thousands of people real glass. Then you go down a set of stairs, they take your ticket and you are in. That’s it. I guess only a wine fest can give thousands of people a glass, unlimited alcohol, and everyone stays calm and civilized.
One of the most interesting observations was the age of the crowd. The majority were 20 and 30 something’s. This just tells you where our society is in the drinking of alcohol. When the recession first hit, I thought beer sales would go up because of price vs. other adult beverages. However, the latest sales reports show the opposite.
I was at the expo for two reasons: (here comes the shameless plug) I am working on a project to help market and sell the Gary Vaynerchuk Thunder Cruise http://www.garyvthundercruise.com/. This is a seven day wine cruise featuring Gary. If you are looking for a cruise and you like to drink wine, this would be the right place.
Based on the demo of the wine expo, Gary really has the right marketing brand. He is today’s wine drinker. He is 30 something, drinks wine everyday, owns one of the most successful independent wine retail stores in the country and his daily video blog gets 90,000 hits a day http://tv.winelibrary.com. What started as a true mom & pop store is now a $50 million plus business.
Gary was the keynote speaker at the expo. He ran two blind wine tasting seminars that expo patrons could buy tickets for. His talks are “real”. No typical wine snub stuff here. Where can you go to a wine tasting and the speaker asks if you smell a “sheep’s butt” in the wine?
The other reason I went to the expo was to try wine. Thank God for the spit buckets. If I drank every wine I tried, they would have to carry me out of the expo. I am blown away that I didn’t see any really drunk people. That is impressive!
It will be a long time before I buy another bottle of the “big brand name” wine. There are so many different wines out there at really low prices. No, you don’t have to drink “2 buck chuck”. You can drink “great” wine for $12. Gary pointed out in his seminar that when you pay big bucks for a wine, you are paying for the brand. All of us in marketing can understand this. This is part of what is getting our shows and events ticket sales in trouble during this rough time.
This event got me thinking. If you are looking to create events, you might want to look at more of these lifestyle type shows. The key is to stay ahead of the trends and have your event ready to go when the trend is peaking. I will keep my eyes open for this stuff and let you know. My guess is that some kind of big web 2.0 show might be it. Now I have to figure out what and how.