I just returned from a week at Vinexpo, one of the biggest wine fairs in Europe. It was very productive and I’ve made a bunch of new contacts and deals. However, WiFi failed completely making communication almost impossible and preventing attending wine businesses from fully taking advantage of the event.
In the age of connectivity, where basically every business depends on Internet (email, news, social media), it’s totally unacceptable to spend 6 days in an event without a proper Internet connection.
I even had access to the Press Center (as a blogger) where Internet was free but switched between slow and not-working-at-all. Stands owners complained about their (paid) access which was also not working or very slow. This makes no sense and Vinexpo should think about Internet as being as essential as running water. Without it businesses are missing potentially critic opportunities and connections.
What should Vinexpo do?
Get WiFi working. Make it fast and reliable. Make it free for people with access to the Press Center (available everywhere in the venue, not just the press center).
Make it paid for everyone else (but easy to register and start using right away). People want internet access and are available to pay for it (within reason, not London Wine Fair style) but they want quality of service and availability. Paid accounts should be more than enough to hire a proper Internet service provider and avoid problems.
What about Social Media?
By now every event organizer should know that Social Media provides wine events with increased exposure for the the event itself and its paying participants. Providing working internet access helps. However, as an event organizer there’s a lot more you can do with social media.
First of all, setup a (WiFI enabled) Social Media Center where connected people can meet, share experiences and organize activities. The press center seems like a logical place to do that, but it’s not. Access to the Press Center is limited to press, a Social Media Center needs to be open for all.
Second, promote the Social Media Center using all event channels: posters, catalogs, web and, of course, Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms. Use these channels to promote the center but also to tell people what’s happening on it. On a more geeky side don’t forget to create a hastag for your event (like #vinexpo).
Third, make it live! News, video, presentations, tastings, gatherings should all be published live during the event. This will allow for people to share and interact with the event’s content on the moment increasing once more opportunities for visibility.
None of this is new. I’m actually sharing my experience at The Access Zone which is a Social Media Center that was successfully available for the second year in a row at the London Wine Fair last month.
The easiest and most professional way to get a Social Media Center is to hire a specialized company. The Access Zone was created and is organized by Vrazon who also organizes the European Wine Bloggers Conference and has loads of social media knowledge and experience.
To Vinexpo (and other wine events): get WiFi working and a place for Social Media to thrive and you get more of what you already want: visibility and more business done!