London Wine Fair Plays Matchmaker - with the perfect combination of personal service and tech support


Big and buzzy they might be, but trade fairs aren’t always efficient. As Justin Liddle, MD of Mentzendorff puts it, ‘‘How often have you spent the day waiting for a particular buyer to come along and then the minute you step away for fifteen minutes you discover they’ve lingered and gone?’

Equally, as visitors navigate packed stands or wait for swamped contacts, they don’t always achieve all they’d hope to in the time they’re there.

Which is why the London Wine Fair’s new Hosted Buyers & Concierge service is – as buyers and exhibitors alike agree – such a game changer.

Like all the best game-changers, it’s incredibly simple: essentially a planner that connects visitors and exhibitors. But in its ability to help create more, better, and better-targeted meetings it more or less guarantees to significantly increase the productivity of all parties over the three days of the fair.

For Exhibitors it’s a chance to see lists of registered visitors, filter and approach them to set up meetings. Visitors, for their part, can use it to book tastings and meetings with stand-owners. There are also a limited number of bookable spaces in each of the tasting masterclasses.
As Ashley Locker, the tool’s creator puts it, ‘Used in the right way it is very effective. You can plan your whole day at the fair. The benefit of scheduling meetings is that when stands are busy you are guaranteed to be able to speak to someone.’

Meetings are bookable in 30-minute slots and need to be ‘accepted’ - it isn’t an open-diary format. It’s also possible to block off times when you wish to be unavailable. Crucially, meetings can take place either on stand, or in a private meeting space.

The planner is available to everyone for free, and is included as part of the registration package. All those registered will receive an email a month before the show containing a link to the networking tool. There will also be a link from the LWF homepage. Communication regarding invitations and acceptances will be via email – there’s no need to download a separate app and no need to log in just to track your responses.

Rob Cooke, Chief Operating Officer at Majestic was instrumental in the tool’s creation and is excited by its potential.

Rober Cooke

‘You can be pulled in a lot of different directions at London Wine Fair, and I was conscious that it would be useful to have a dedicated space for meetings that require more focus or privacy,’ he says. ‘It's great to see that this feedback has been well-received and acted upon by Hannah and the team.

‘I think the new meeting space and the concierge service will be good additions to the overall experience, and I'm looking forward to seeing them in action at the Fair this year.’

What the Trade are saying...

Donald Edwards

Donald Edwards, Head Sommelier, La Trompette

‘I can have six meetings in four hours that would normally take me three weeks…’
It’s really important that we have a successful top-end wine fair in the UK. London Wine Fair has to be an essential stop on the wine calendar; a place where business is happening.

I like that the Concierge service gives you access to meeting rooms. You can have a day of productive interactions in an environment where you’re sheltered from the storms of other people, which is important. The wine fair should have large numbers of people milling around and be fun and buzzy, but we need a place where, in a nice way, you don’t have to be around them all the time!

I’m likely to book into seminars with it, but I’ll also be using it to draw up a portfolio of people I want to taste with in the next six to nine months.

There are producers I haven’t worked with a lot of late. To have a sit-down chat with them to discuss what they think I should have a look at and organise more detailed tastings to follow up after the Fair is a really good use of my time.

Whether it’s reviving business with people we’ve worked with in the past, or finding new suppliers, I can have six meetings in four hours, that would normally take me three weeks. It’s an efficient use of my time.

Carlos Santos

Carlos Santos, Head of Wine, Humble Grape

‘Having access to meeting rooms is very important…’

The most important thing for me about the Concierge service is the matching facility. So, as a visitor, I can enter information about the kind of drinks I’m looking to buy and the Concierge service will match my search with exhibitors.

When you visit fairs such as this beforehand it can be a lot of work, going through every producer’s list of products and then emailing them to set up meetings.

But the system does that for me and comes back with responses instantly. That saves an incredible amount of time before I get to the fair, but also make me more efficient when I’m there. And I love that it sends me reminders for the meetings, so I don’t need to keep checking my diary.
Another thing that I like is that I have access to a meeting room. This is very important. If I want to start importing someone, it’s odd to be standing on the floor of the fair talking about payment prices and so on. It’s much better to be somewhere private.

I intend to be there all three days. I don’t typically do that, but I think I’m going to get a lot more out of the event by using the Concierge service, so I’d like to have an extra day where I bring all my sommeliers with me to get them to try the wines I’ve picked the day before.

Justin Liddle

Justin Liddle, MD, Mentzendorff

I'll definitely spend a greater amount of time at the fair… it’s going to make our days more efficient…

This is the first time we’ve been at the London Wine Fair for ten years. Previously, it would take a lot of work in advance to ensure that it was an effective use of our time and investment. But this time technology will make the whole thing so much more streamlined.

One of the big draws for participating is to get ourselves out there in front of new customers, and I love the fact that the connection [in the Concierge tool] works both ways. That our team can reach out to people they’ve been wanting to talk to for a while and potential customers can reach out to us.

It's a tool that the guys will use a lot. Our team are very much set up to target certain routes to market, and this will allow them to see who’s coming to the fair and reach out to people in specific areas.

We’ll definitely spend a greater amount of time at the fair because our team can set up meetings in advance and meet up with potentially new customers, rather than wait on the stand and hope that somebody walks along. We can be much more targeted in the use of our time.
Without doubt it’s going to make our days more efficient - a very neat way of ensuring that we get maximum return from the time and money we invest.

Sign up to the LWF Times to receive the next edition and find out how to get the most out of the concierge service, including a list of do's and don'ts. 

Sign up to LWF Times

Register for LWF

Don't miss out