For a number of years customers would ask if I’m going to The Cannes TFWA (World duty-Free Show) ? I’d heard from a number of visitors that “ … most of the real meetings happened in separate hotel rooms, restaurants and Cafes…” which sounded a bit clandestine, and also a bit too much like networking, which has never much appealed to me. Perhaps I’m lazy, but I prefer to dangle my bait on an exhibition stand, and see who steps up and asks questions.
About 4 years ago, Karine, my co-director said “… Dale you really should visit Cannes, as 5 of our clients are going & asking if you’ll be there with our Hapsburg Absinthe…”, so I relented and booked some flights. I arranged a hotel 4 rows back from the Croisette, so it wasn’t outrageously expensive, and fixed appointments for breakfast, lunch and dinner with some visiting clients. But meetings over a restaurant table, have their limitations, if you’re used to presenting on an exhibition stand.
I then paid my €150 (approx.) for a one day entry ticket, which was the first time I had EVER paid to enter a Trade Show, and frankly was a bit bored. Inside the Show, it was less than 25% liquor stands, and so whilst it’s interesting perhaps to see what Zippo lighters, or Lanvin Perfumes are offering, it’s not really pertinent to our business.
The following year, we hired a 22 metre yacht moored in the Le vieux port adjacent to the Exhibition Halls, complete with 8 berths, Captain Roger and his hostess, and we’ve never looked back. The Captain is a also magnificent chef and daily takes our orders for the next days batch of visitors and he plans the menus.
Other exhibitors always ask us what we pay, and they try to work out whether they are better off with a regular stand + hotels and taxis, or our floating hotel / stand.
It’s an impossible calculation, as the overall deal is so different. On the boat, we depend on good weather and if it’s pouring with rain, (which has only happened on 5 days out of the last 4 years), no one wants to walk out of the halls on to the quayside to get wet, but we take that chance.
On the other side of the coin, we can offer hospitality, (breakfast, lunch and dinner), away from push & shove of the Show, that’s nearly impossible on an exhibition stand . However on a stand there’s always the possibility of someone walking past saying “…have you an importer in Tahiti, ‘cos if not, we’d like to talk…” That is much more likely to happen in the exhibition halls, than on the boat.
So which is best ? I don’t know.
When its cold and grey, I’d rather be inside the Show Halls, but when we enjoying a great dinner with an important top client, drinking some great 1er cru Fourchaume Chablis from Jean Durup, and puffing a Cohiba after the show has finished and the other exhibitors are queuing & fighting for taxis back to their hotels, trying to park in Cannes streets impossible to find un parking, I know what’s best.
Maybe next year, we’ll ask for a stand inside, but this year we’re praying for good weather, and perhaps a few passers by on the quayside asking about imports into Tahiti ! (and Russia, & Colombia & Khazakstan etc etc !!)
See you in Cannes next week on-board the Wine & Spirit Innovations Boat… Hopefully in the Sun!