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Richard Siddle blog: Final thoughts on LIWF 2011

Published:  20 May, 2011

Waking up after the last day of the London International Wine Fair is a little like the first day back after all the festive Christmas and New Year celebrations.

Waking up after the last day of the London International Wine Fair is a little like the first day back after all the festive Christmas and New Year celebrations. Back to the reality of the day job after living in a wine trade bubble for three days - and nights.

As well as the mountain of emails and enquiries to follow up on there is also a sense of optimism that some of the meetings, ideas and pearls of wisdom gleaned at the fair can now be somehow implemented in to day-to-day office life.

Everyone's experiences of LIWF are clearly different depending on which side of the industry you sit, but from the media part of the fence I sensed some real optimism doing the rounds of the various stands.

Trading conditions may never have been tougher, but company after company I spoke to seemed to have drawn a line under moping and groaning around about their terrible lot, but are looking at genuinely exciting and different ways of working.

Everywhere I went the buzzword going around this year's LIWF was "collaboration". No longer the "them and us" mentality that has pervaded previous fairs. Agencies, suppliers, retailers are all finding new and innovative ways of working together which ultimately will keep them all in the business of making and selling wine.

There appears to be a greater focus on specialisation, and separating business models so that agencies and suppliers can service different sectors of the industry better. Be it through standalone independent and on-trade divisions, through more bespoke online solutions, ecommerce packages and more.

The one stop solution is becoming more like a mini retail park where customers can be served by different business solutions.

The content at this year's LIWF was as deep, wide and varied as the number of countries present. Be it the mass Bordeaux, IGP or Wine Gang tastings, or the highbrow masterclass sessions, all apparently well attended.

It was frustrating not to get to more of the seminar sessions. Tuesday's consumer panel was a definite highlight, not only hearing what they had to say about the kind of wine service they think they are receiving, but the areas in which they are not interested - namely Facebook fan sites and Twitter plugs on the backs of labels, which was not the message being repeated elsewhere in the fair.

For all those who gripe and whinge about ExCel and do their own mental calculations about how many people were at the show, LIWF succeeds best in bringing the industry together under one roof. What we all then do when we are there, is our own business.

If you had to remind yourself about how important the UK is to the global wine industry you only had to go and visit the generic Russian stand - exhibiting together for the first time. Their enthusiasm, passion and determination to get their wines in to the UK and the importance to them of being at the LIWF was a nice reminder of why we all give up so much time, effort, and hours of sleep to be there.

So cheers to James, Will and all those busy bees that made it all happen. Here's to 2012!