ProWine is one of the biggest international wine trade shows in the world. It takes place in Dusseldorf, Germany and welcomes over 55,000 wine professionals every year in March.

Over 6,000 exhibitors will be at Prowein looking to grab your attention and showcase their products and services. With so many people to talk to and an equally high number of business opportunities to follow, a visit to Prowein can easily become a frustrating experience.

For first timers, but also for those of you with years of Prowein under the belt, I’ve written an easy-to-read guide which proposes 10 ways to get the most out of your time at this year’s wine fair.

1. Enjoy the pre-events

Many interesting activities take place right before the doors of Prowein go open, on Sunday. These events are great opportunities to network and make good use of your time in Dusseldorf.

Here’s a list of 3 events that you should consider attending:

  • The Tre Bicchieri Gambero Rosso Degustation (March 18th) is part of the Tre Bicchieri World Tour, which provides an opportunity to taste award-winning Italian wines. The event takes place at the Congress Center of the Messe Dusseldorf (where Prowein takes place). Press and trade must present credentials and have free access. All others must pay the 25€ ticket at the door.
  • The #winelover Prowein BBQ BYOB Party (March 18th) was one of the highlights of last year’s Prowein, and it’s coming back for a second edition in 2017. This fun event is put together by members of the #winelover community (a 23000-strong group of social media savvy wine lovers) to bring together over 200 people (and their own BYOB 200 bottles) for a night of networking and shared love for wine. The event takes place at KIT Cafe. Tickets (29€) sell out fast so make sure you book yours in advance.
  • The Falstaff Big Bottle Party (March 18th) is one of the most awaited parties at Prowein. An opportunity to taste top wines in Magnum bottles from more than 120 international winemakers. There’s live music, DJs, food trucks and a cheese buffet. Tickets: 59€.

Also, check Prowein Goes City for an official list of wine events in Dusseldorf.

2. Do your homework

There is nothing worst than going to a trade show unprepared. Yet, so many still manage to attend Prowein (or any other trade show) without preparing in advance. Here’s a shortlist of things you can do before you set foot in Dusseldorf to make sure you have a productive fair:

  • Why are you going: write down what is that you want to achieve by the end of the event.
  • Goals: set real measurable goals that are important for your business.
  • Make a plan with a path to how you’re going to reach your goals.
  • Book meetings well in advance (you’ll find out a lot of people already have a fully booked schedule).
  • Map out the stands you absolutely need to visit (and take note of their Prowein location).

Make sure you also find time to walk around once you’ve visited the stands on your list. A lot is happening at Prowein that you’ll only be able to find out once you’re actually there.

3. Take control (of your meetings)

Your time is valuable. So is your client’s. Make sure you respect both by arriving at meetings on time. And, if possible agree on a meeting duration and stick to it. Also, impromptu meetings are bound to happen at Prowein. Set enough time aside for them. Stick to these simple rules, and you’ll find out how easy is to keep your meetings (and your time) under control.

4. Check email and social media

WiFi access at Prowein is patchy, to say the least. Make sure you have a proper internet connection during the fair. Ideally get your own independent 3G connection (which, I have to admit, is also known to have problems).

Internet access is a critical business tool in a connected world. Keep an eye on your email during the fair as clients might want to contact you to book a meeting, follow up on your proposals or simply confirm that (great) deal (you wouldn’t want to miss that one, right?).

Social Media is another essential business tool. For visitors, it is a good way to find out what’s happening in and around Prowein. Follow the event hashtags #Prowein or #Prowein2017 on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook for a great discovery too.

For producers, posting on Social Media can be an excellent way to attract visitors to your stand. Pick one wine per day to showcase on social media or simply announce a group tasting at a certain pre-scheduled time. The audience is out there, make sure you can captivate it with interesting posts.

5. Be a professional (wine producer)

The majority of Prowein exhibitors are wine producers. They’re coming to the fair to showcase and (try to) sell their wines to importers, distributors, and retailers from all over the world.

This list of recommendations comes from having attended many professional wine events over the years:

  • Your phone won’t buy your wine: if you have a stand make sure you’re not constantly looking at your phone or computer but instead paying attention to the people (potential clients!) passing in front of you. Eye contact, a smile and a pleasant greeting can go a long way.
  • Go for a tour of Prowein: check what others in the industry are doing by visiting other pavilions, countries, and stands for a healthy dose of ideas and inspiration. If you’re alone at your stand, ask a neighbour to keep an eye on things while you are briefly away.
  • Be irresistible: an attractive sales pitch is mandatory in the attention-scarce context of Prowein. Make sure you’re ready to grab people’s interest when they give you the privilege of their attention.
  • Tidy up your stand: messy booths are uninviting but unopened bottles even more so.
  • Images sell wine: load up an iPad or a smartphone with some of the best photos of your vineyards, your bottles and your marketing materials (you have them right?). in a world filled with great imagery, visually descriptive and attractive content can be a deal winner.
  • Keep business cards at hand: make sure you have them. Your business cards exist for a reason and that is that no potential client leaves your stand without your contact details. If possible, ask for a business card exchange so you can follow up later.

6. Drink in Moderation

This is hardly said enough. We’re all wine professionals at Prowein and yet spitting seems, many times, a second thought. It’s ok to sip; it’s not ok to drink. There’s a good chance that some of your current and future clients are at the fair. Being on your best mental and physical form is essential.

If you go out at night in Dusseldorf (obviously using WineSpots to find the best spots for food & wine) make sure you keep an eye on how much you drink. Also, make sure you drink plenty of water and stay hydrated throughout the duration of the fair. Your health and your business depend on it.

7. The early bird catches the worm

Arrive early at Prowein every day. Mornings are the calmest period of the day. As an early birder, you have the benefit of meeting people while their minds are still fresh and they’re full of energy to face another day. I’ve had some of the best meetings of Prowein by being amongst the early birds. Also, find time to stop and relax along the day so you can catch your breath and your thoughts. Trade shows are massive; you can’t afford to needlessly tire yourself out. Finally, leave earlier (after all you’ve arrived pretty early) and avoid the rush hour.

8. Business Focus 

There’s a fantastic business mindset at Prowein that is unmatched by any other wine trade fairs. Use this to your advantage. Focus on what you want to take home after each day. Look out for new business opportunities, follow up with people you’ve met and if possible close deals. Also, remember to give your full attention to your existing clients. They’ll definitely appreciate it and maybe even bring new business. It’s called “relationship management” for a reason.

9. Follow-up

Exchanging contacts details is useless if you’re not using them for a proper follow up after the event. Find time to prioritise your best contacts and send them a follow-up email or phone call as soon as possible. A good tip to remember each person you’ve met it to write down a personal note on each business card on why that person was important to you or your business.

10. Use Free Public Transportation

Dusseldorf is one of busiest trade show cities in Europe. It is also one of the better prepared to comfortably welcome over 50,000 people during the 3 days of Prowein with a generally good public transportation system. The underground is fast, efficient (even if a little packed at peak hours) and free to use if you’re holding a Prowein ticket. Calling an Uber in Dusseldorf basically, means calling an uberTAXI.   Alternatively, taxis are aplenty and provide a continuous flux of cars to and from the fair. You can find free taxis at both the South and North entrances of the fair.

11. (Bonus point) Book your hotel for 2018

What? Are you serious? Yes, I am. It’s getting harder and harder to find well-priced accommodation for the Prowein dates. Hotels are pricey and full. AirBnb’s are fully booked months ahead. So hard many people have in fact started staying uncomfortably outside of the city (some as far as Cologne). Why not book your place for next year’s edition well in advance? There’s a good chance you’ll find a great location at a great price.

Let’s meet to talk Digital Wine

That’s it! Have a great Prowein and let me know if want to meet and talk about your Digital Platforms (social media, e-commerce, publishing, apps, innovation and technology) at Prowein.

Email me andre@adegga.com or SMS/WhatsApp me at (+351) 961210827

I’m André Ribeirinho and I run LifeStreet where me and my team bring wine and technology together. We build and run award-winning Digital Platforms for the Wine Industry. Some of our most successful projects include the SmartWineGlass (a smart connected wine glass), WineSpots (a platform to find the best food and wine spots around the world), Club A (an e-commerce wine subscription) and Adegga (a Wine Guide and Events Platform).

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