Bar Convent Berlin is an organisation which the majority of the businessmen and bartenders in the hospitality industry are already aware of, they know either because of its reputation or have visited it one or more of the previous years. A lot of Greek companies have been among the exhibitors and even more, bartenders have travelled in Berlin for the show. What will happen this year after the Covid -19 consequences, what’s the new concept the organizing company has adopted? To these and a lot more Petra Lassahn, BCB Director and Melanie Ignasiak, Project Manager will answer.
How hard was it for you to go for a digital edition of this year’s Bar Convent Berlin, as it is one of the biggest meeting points for the bar and spirits industry?
Petra Lassahn: The decision to call off the live trade show is associated with a high degree of responsibility, first and foremost in the interest all of the parties involved and, of course, in the interest of our exhibitors’ and our own business. The last few months have therefore been the most upsetting ones in my career so far. I am, however, firmly convinced we have taken the right decision in the face of the on-going Corona crisis. In the digital edition, we have found a great alternative that I very much look forward to and that I am very eager to see.
What is the vibe you are getting from the Bar Convent Berlin clients around the world about this change?
Melanie Ignasiak: Plenty of understanding and support. This is also very important to us. We have talked with many partners in the run-up to the event. Even the digital edition can only be made to work by us if we receive support from the industry. We can now feel the anticipation for the BCB Pouring Digital.
Before Covid-19 you were planning to enrich the Bar Convent Berlin concept and move to a new venue after many years. Do you believe that these changes (first turning to digital, then changing venue) will affect how clients see the Bar Convent Berlin organisation?
Melanie: It shows that we can react flexibly. You have to keep up with the times, and we want to develop this trade show further with and for the industry. And let’s be honest: Who has really been able to put their plans into practice 100%? We are simply faced with an exceptional situation. The good thing about it is that it also brings great opportunities. To us as a trade show organiser, the Corona-crisis proved a catalyst for digitalisation.
Petra: We have looked at digital concepts at Reed Exhibitions for quite a while already, but due to the impact of the pandemic we are now investing our full manpower into smart solutions.
Bar Convent Berlin’s audience is mainly bartenders, bar owners etc. Is there something special you are doing to support the industry workers, who suffered a lot with their business being shut down for over two months?
Petra: One of the focal themes in the lecture programme of BCB Pouring Digital will be how bar owners, bar managers and bartenders can cope with the crisis. This transfer of knowledge is one of our strengths. If in the following months’ new concepts are implemented, if new ways of canvassing customers are successful, then we will all have won.
Melanie: We are pleased that we can provide free access to BCB Pouring Digital this year.
Petra Lassahn, Bar Convent Berlin Director
Is there something special about this year’s digital version of Bar Convent Berlin which you would like to highlight for those participating at Pouring Digital?
Melanie: It is important to understand the construct as a whole to get the best out of one’s trade show visit. There are three pillars to it: products, content and networking. In the product segment, the Tasting Boxes will be definitely exciting; we will send them out to the bar world and then do the tasting jointly online. What I would like to recommend especially warmly to all participants, be they exhibitors or visitors, is our Matchmaking. Here they will receive personalised new contact proposals – a great way to expand one’s network.
What was the biggest challenge you had to face with the re-organisation of this year’s Bar Convent Berlin?
Melanie: The re-design of Bar Convent Berlin 2020 into a digital trade show affects all departments at our company, from organisation to marketing and finally sales. We shelved all of our planning basically overnight and started from scratch again. The biggest challenge here is short time available. Instead of a year we now only have a few months; but the trade show is gradually taking shape now, I am confident.
What is your feeling for the industry’s next day after the consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic?
Petra: The consequences will still be felt for a long time. The end of the pandemic is unfortunately not in sight yet and even then the business will first have to recover. But I believe that the appreciation for visiting a bar will increase. After a long time spent in lockdown, we are all yearning for experiences, for conviviality and for service experience. Alongside the social component, however, this is also about high-quality drinks and food. Sustainability as a trend will become a key task of the bar industry.
Melanie Ignasiak, Bar Convent Berlin Project Manager
What are your thoughts on the future of international exhibitions after the Covid-19 pandemic?
Petra: We are very confident and hopeful that we will be able to hold trade shows with the usual set-up again in 2021. The function of trade fairs as international marketplaces, as drivers for trends and innovations, as a family gathering for the industry, will not go away. What will change, though, is the combination of trade shows with more and more digital offers. Corona has very much accelerated digitalisation in the trade fair business. Many of the features we are developing and testing in 2020 will stay with us and optimally complement physical trade shows.
Melanie: As Bar Convent Berlin we want to work in future towards rendering valuable services for our customers for 365 days a year. I am especially thinking of high-quality content here that we will be able to place at the industry’s disposal on a continuous basis. Here we will follow on from the experience we will acquire with BCB Pouring Digital.
What will you miss the most this year from the Bar Convent Berlin as we know it?
Melanie: The excitement shortly before the doors open on the first day of the trade show, the warm feeling seeing so many partners and friends again, that you have made over the years, yes – I will even miss the lack of sleep. But now I also very much look forward to the virtual re-encounters. The experience I have gained during my teleworking time, which is now behind us, has shown very clearly that that video meetings can create an extremely high-quality exchange and heartfelt conviviality. As a team, we have grown together even more, for example.
Why should somebody attend (exhibitor or visitor) this year’s digital organisation?
Petra: BCB Pouring Digital l will be the first large gathering of the global bar industry – only virtually, but it will give participants all-new avenues and possibilities of leverage that we should make use of. Those not taking part will definitely miss out.