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London Wine Fair to charge some visitors for first time

Non-exhibiting visitors to the London Wine Fair will have to pay for entry for the first time this year, as organisers crack down on people using the trade show to make deals even though they haven’t taken stands.

(Photo: Anthony Upton)

Members of the trade who will be charged will include importers who have elected not to exhibit and who are considered competition to those companies who do. Hannah Tovey, head of the London Wine Fair, said the move would stop exhibitors being “undermined” by salespeople striking deals on the show floor for free.

“We have listened to our exhibitors – particularly the U.K. agents – who feel their significant investment in the show is being undermined when other non-exhibiting agents subsequently attend – often en masse – with the specific intention of doing business or benefitting from the valuable, high-level networking opportunities,” she said.

Last year Patrick McGrath MW, the managing director of Hatch Mansfield, told the drinks business the high volume of people like wholesalers using the fair to network and make deals without paying for their own exhibits is “just not cricket.”

“It is totally wrong that members of the trade are trying to get a free lunch.

“Obviously, if you are a retailer coming into the fair to see your customers then it’s quite right that there should be no entry fee, but if you are a member of the trade who is a distributor then you should pay a premium fee; if you choose not to exhibit, then if you do come in, you need to pay the right price,” he added.

This year the fair, which takes place from 20-22 May, will split its visitor badges into complimentary and paid for categories.

Complimentary basges will include:

  1. Buyer badge: those with a buying responsibility in the on-trade and off-trade; buyers for importers (U.K. and international).
  2. LWF Guest badge: on or off-trade staff; Masters of Wine; Master Sommeliers; Association of Wine Educators; marketeers; and publishers. These include members of the trade who are on a career path within the wine industry and would particularly benefit from features such as the Education Zone. It will also include non-exhibitors who are invited as speakers, or to collect awards.
  3. Exhibitor Guest badge: these visitors will be invited by exhibitors and sponsors, for specific meetings and activities, and as such are the invitee of that exhibitor.
  4. Press badge: for active drinks writers.

Paid for badges are for industry members who do not fall into these categories, or do not register in advance. Tickets range from £60 for one day or £120 for all three days.

“I want to stress that all members of the trade are welcome, and we are not introducing this charge as a deterrent,” Tovey said.

“Rather, it is about protecting our exhibitors and their investment and underlining the inherent value of attending the show.”

10% of all ticket sales will be donated to drinks charity The Benevolent.

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