A 30% drop in the number of exhibitors and visitors at Vinexpo Bordeaux 2019 has prompted soul searching from Vinexpo.
“The reality of the figures evidence the need for a radical change of strategy to relaunch Vinexpo Bordeaux and for it to exist harmoniously with Vinexpo Paris,” Rodolphe Lameyse, the brand-new CEO of Vinexpo said in a statement. “We must build on our strengths so as to reinvent ourselves.” He said the new direction would be built on business, content and experiences.
Exactly what this new direction would be was not announced, though the statement added that Vinexpo Bordeaux would create a new business model for 2021, when it celebrates its 40th anniversary.
The fair was notably diminished this year, with the outside food tents gone and book stalls, a restaurant and an Air France demonstration set used to fill space in the exhibition hall. The fall in numbers came despite new initiatives, such fair tickets that could be used on public transport, and a dinner to immerse exhibitors in Bordeaux’s chateau hospitality.
“I’ve becoming to Vinexpo since 1995 and it doesn’t look like it did before,” said Ettore Nicoletto, CEO of Italy’s Santa Margherita. “It’s smaller and less crowded, and there is less traffic.”
Other exhibitors reported that visitor quality remained high, and that it was easier to spend time with them. Some, however, had complaints about the lower visitor numbers, saying they needed to do significant business to justify the high stand costs.
One problem, said an exhibitor speaking off the record, is that there are now too many fairs. “We’ve done two this year and have done 80% of what we want to do. Who has the energy and enthusiasm for a third fair? You lose steam.”
The news that Vinexpo Paris will be run concurrently with Wine Paris in February, was warmly received.
“Never count the French out, said the exhibitor. “They are very strategic.”
Vinexpo had scheduled its Paris debut for January 2020; however, this week they decided to cancel that event and join forces with Wine Paris at the Paris Expo Porte de Versailles from 10 to 12 February 2020. It will be the second edition for Wine Paris, whose inaugural fair received general praise for its organisation and visitor quality.
The international Vinexpo fairs will continue, with the Shanghai fair scheduled for October, shortly before ProWine Shanghai in November. Fairs in Paris, New York and Hong Kong will follow.
Vinexpo is chaired by the president of the Bordeaux Gironde Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCI Bordeaux Gironde), which has been the majority shareholder of the Vinexpo group since it was established in 1981.
For more on Vinexpo, see Robert Joseph’s commentary.