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!

16 thoughts on “Why wine events really need Internet (and How Vinexpo Failed)

  1. Hi Andre

    Of course, country and culture aside, not having connectivity is a fail.

    But I think that you need to take it further, especially at events that are sponsored by or fall under their own umbrella of being ‘socially’ astute.

    These are my ‘wish list’ for wine events that are doing it right:

    -Tasting notes on paper should never be the only choice.
    There is less and less excuse for the organization to not partner with someone so as a choice, the tastings are loaded into an app and shareable.

    -Producer pages for every vineyard at an event, online linkable, is both a courtesy, blogger friendly and really simple to provide.

    -Corporate information pages masquerading as community/fan pages.
    It’s fine to have a corporate info page. My pet irritation is with fan pages that are edited to be ‘relevant’ to corporate topics existing under the premise of community.
    Say what you are out front but editing for relevance (not civility) bugs me. The community will police relevance if you let it.

    -Pretending to be social to get coverage.
    I read something, some wine event in Europe that stated that if you can get a press pass but must agree to do x posts, y tweets about the event, during the event. Ahh…enforced socialization. #fail to me.

    I’m an idealist and you hit a nerve with me.

    But a good start would be to be connected of course ;)

    1. Hi Arnold,
      thanks for the comment.

      Good additions to my points. I hope a few wine events organizers end up reading this!

      Tasting notes, Producer pages and proper Community pages are exactly what Adegga started doing at wine events last year. A basic example was the Adegga + EWBC partnership: http://ewbc.adegga.com/ . Events need to provide wider exposure to its participants and the Social Media could be a very effective (and I might risk saying cheaper) way of doing it.

      Regarding the last point, I initially registered as a blogger and didn’t get approved. Then on the first day went to the Press Center and asked for my badge again as blogger. After 20 minutes of “site-checking” they gave me the badge. My point is that they fail to realize how important for communication connected people can be.

      Looking forward to see you in Franciacorta.

  2. Andre…I think you are breaking some new ground with Adegga. I’m a fan.

    I am ‘helping’ one of my local shops think through the redo of their site and looked at Adegga for ideas. “Producer pages” and ‘Individual data sets for large buyers (like myself) with linked data are two big ones which really help.

    The big issue with artisanal wines is information. The biggest plus is access to information, including growing and land info, basic source materials like photos and labels and easy ways to share. The last post I wrote was on Ganevat from Arbois. A real chore to gather little bit of information. A real upside to letting people know about his great wine producer.

    I believe that AVIN has real value and that its will grow in acceptance broadly from the consumer side. It’s a bottom’s up revolution. You need to think about whether the ‘bottom’ is the producers or the consumers ;))

    Fun chatting and yes, I’m excited to go to Italy this year. Been working hard on my sparkling wine palate this spring already.

  3. Gary Vaynerchuk gave this keynote in April on social media. It is well worth listening to for people serious about social media in the wine industry. Your video has people suggests talking first- where Gary’s thesis is focused on listening first and building relationships. I highly recommend this.


    Full disclosure: I work for Nomacorc, the global closure company that sponsored the event.

    1. Hi Jeffrey, thanks for your comment. After I mentioned “talking to people” I actually add that we should start by listening, so I definitely agree with you (and Gary!). Gary is a great speaker and he has the ability to engage with everyone. Great to know you were able to get him to talk on your event. :)

      1. Andre…there does seem to be a sense in Europe however, especially in the wine world, that digital=social=community and that somehow ‘social media’ bridges them.

        In the states, within the technology and online business worlds and to the expectations of the customers, this is not true. These represent three decades of evolving culture with digital being the 90’s, social 2000 and this decade the era of communities. Something for European wineries and any groups that are targeting the US market to realize if they want to connect with US customers.

  4. Hi André,
    Just to say I am 100% ok with you. I have reposted your article on my blog. Having such a bad Internet connection during Vinexpo is a failure. I just would like to add that it was even difficult to do a simple phone call from my mobile from time to time, and this is also quite not ok to me too…
    It was lovely to see you,

    1. Hi Audrey! Thanks for sharing the article. I hope Vinexpo (and other wine events) read this!

      Mobile networks also failed and this is very serious too. No internet or phone calls in a big event is a failure!

      It was great seeing you too. :)

  5. Sadly Vinexpo probably will not read this. 2 years ago we wrote the same post after they actively blocked facebook and twitter from the one network they had open. Juan, our writer couldn’t tweet during the event about all the wines he was tasting…Sadly it appears they are not learning.

    1. Ryan, thanks for the comment. Can you post a link to that post so that other people can read it? Thanks.

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