One common question going through the minds of people who have never attended a trade show is if it’s worth it? The flight or drive, the cost of rooms, food, and often the price just to get in the door at a venue can climb into the thousands of dollars before you know it. But the experience might open the door to hundreds of possibilities.
There are tons of satellite industries that support distilling in one form or another. Some of what they’re doing can shape how the craft spirits industry operates. From software services like OnBatch to packaging manufacturers, there's a lot of opportunity to meet with vendors. Distillers have a chance to vet tons of companies in real time at a trade show. That's worth the money right there.
Trade shows offer an invaluable chance to talk to and network with people from all across the distilling industry. It could be a like-minded distiller who shares your philosophy on sourcing ingredients or finding someone who can make better labels at a lower price.
Another thing that makes trade shows something you can’t afford to miss are the speakers. It isn’t often that a brain-trust of the best minds of any business all gather in one spot with the goal of sharing the total of their accumulated wisdom and hard-earned experience. There is always something to learn from the various workshops and seminars offered at trade shows.
Market your Product
Most of all, trade shows are your chance to place your cards on the table and shine. These are opportunities to show off that 'big new thing' to the world. Restaurants, distributors, and retailers are all looking for something that they can make money on. Not to mention the press attends these events. Having a story written about your distillery or product is a great way to get the word out.
Trade Shows are also a great time to let loose and have a little fun. It may not be a vacation exactly, but it does get you out of the office. You get to meet and talk to people who understand you. They face the same problems you do when it comes to running or working at a distillery. They get you. Commiserate and connect. Don't overdo the fun though. The last thing you want is to fall into the trap of believing that being far from home gives you a blank check to go wild. Don’t do anything that damages your professional or brand reputation.