In advance of March’s ProWein, the annual trade fair in Düsseldorf, Germany, Wine Enthusiast’s Contributing Editor Anne Krebiehl MW spoke with Eva Rowe, vice president of Messe Düsseldorf North America, the U.S. arm of ProWein’s organizers.
What is so special about the upcoming anniversary edition of the industry’s largest trade show?
We want to celebrate this 25th year with an opening ceremony, a ProWein special edition of the local Düsseldorf liquor “Killepitsch,” a merchandising shop for our “Coming Home for ProWein” campaign and many little extras.
What makes the show a must-attend event for U.S. wine and spirits professionals?
I think it is the broad selection and the business orientation that makes the learning and buying so effective. Anyone who is trying to find out about trends, offer their clients something no one else has, or just wants to meet with the Who’s Who of the industry will benefit from attending ProWein.
ProWein is known for its business-like approach. What does that mean?
I think with our trade-only approach and the clearly structured layout we have succeeded in offering the best and most comprehensive selection of wine and spirits in one place. We have also kept the promise of easy access and straight-forward navigation. For American buyers and influencers trying to broaden their offer, ProWein is the place to do this within three days.
How has the American presence at Prowein changed over the past five years regarding exhibitors and visitors?
On the visitor side, we have been able to triple attendance numbers. This demonstrates the show has real momentum. As far as the exhibitors are concerned, we are in a bit of a bind. There is a waiting list. That said, over the past five years we have brought many new exhibitors from the U.S. especially on the spirits side, as well as group wine stands from California, New York, Oregon and Washington. U.S. space has increased by about 30% over the last five years.
What was your focus on getting more U.S. visitors to ProWein?
Initially we focused on importers to come over, but over the last five years we have been addressing wholesalers and retailers. We also started targeting more on-premise decision makers such as sommeliers, among other activities we have been a major sponsor at TEXSOM since 2017.
You’ve been known to polish glasses at TEXSOM. Are you always so hands-on in your job?
I have always tried to establish a personal relationship with our clients. I want everyone to feel comfortable enough to call me during show preparations and onsite with the smallest issue they might have. If that means my finding a restaurant for them to take their clients, carrying a box over to someplace or even staff a booth for a while, I am happy to do it.
In 2017 you released data on how many decision makers attended and how many deals were done. Do you have 2018 figures and what do you expect in 2019?
Yes, we do. 66% of attendees are direct decision makers, and we are convinced this will stay that way for 2019. Our most impressive statistical figure to me is that 98% of all visitors would recommend ProWein to others.
What tips do you have for attendees to make the most of ProWein?
Have a plan. Everyone who comes and just wanders will certainly get overwhelmed and will not be able to make the most of the visit. I would suggest making your appointments in advance with the people you really want to see and leave enough room to explore. When you meet friends and known faces, chat but know when to say good-bye in order to keep going. There is lots to see.
How does Route USA work for U.S. buyers attending the fair?
The U.S. is not an easy market to conquer. Hence there are many producers at ProWein who will not, and maybe should not, attempt exporting to the U.S. There is no reason for American attendees to waste their time visiting those booths. In order to provide guidance, together with Wine Enthusiast, we came up with Route USA. This tells U.S. buyers which exhibitors want to bring their wines over and have the capabilities and capacities needed to be successful here in the States. By consulting the list online at prowein.com/RouteUSA2 the U.S. buyer can substantially increase the effectiveness of the ProWein trip immensely.