By: Linda Kissam
I just got back from a wine conference in France – the IWINETC to be exact. The 7th International Wine Tourism Conference 2015 was held in the La Champagne region of France offering many opportunities for learning and commercial and professional contact. It featured a 2 day program of over 30 talks, workshops, panel discussions, wine tastings and “field trips.” Well organized, educational and personable it was everything I could have asked for in a learning experience. It’s something all professional wine writers should think about attending. Next year it will be held in Barcelona, Spain. If you have the chance, sign up for it.
The question many of my friends – and my accountant – asked me was why, when the web offers so many different ways to network, learn, converse, collaborate, share opinions and so forth go to a conference? There seems little reason to leave home to further career goals anymore. When we use our desktop computers, IPods, IPhones efficiently and speedily to connect, research, share, comment and update our education, is attending a professional conference really worth the effort? The answer to that question is a great big yes, it’s still worth the effort.
It makes sense to go to conferences and trade shows. Why? Here are some great reasons for your consideration.
1. Remember why your profession use to excite you
Too much time doing the same old thing can make you feel a little flat, dull and less than up-to-date. Where did that feeling of anticipation for a new assignment or experience go? I know there’s a world of information available to you online and hundreds of ways to create and devour content, but getting out and hearing from people who are doing what you do, but differently, can reignite your enthusiasm.
2. Meet friends and colleagues face to face
We all have the ability to make strong, positive, professional connections using digital technology – there’s no denying that. Yet, there’s something really inspiring and sustainable about meeting new and old contacts face to face.
3. Educate yourself on industry trends
Professional conferences specialize in finding new and compelling subject matter and top-notch speakers for their sessions. Attending the event gives instant face to face opportunities to ask questions, ride the energy in the room, and learn how to apply the latest trends to your work.
4. Meet new representatives
Most professional conferences include vendors or representatives whose reason for being there is to connect with you and educate you on their latest and greatest products and services. There is nothing like the personal face to face connection you can get by shaking hands, making eye contact and presenting yourself in the best possible light. No email typos, wrong phrasing, incomplete bios or awful photos. Just a smiling personable you, reaching out to colleagues who can further your interests.
5. Become an authority to industry representatives
Effective sustainable relationships are built on strong but personal relationships. Making connections with industry representatives can be invaluable. You never know when you may be able to be a resource for them or they for you, which in turn can make it easier to obtain press trips, receive samples, place stories and build buzz when you need to.
6 . The fun factor
Yup, these conferences are just plain fun. Think of the fun factor as an investment in your own revitalization and well-being. There’s a lot to be said for getting away from your day-to-day work life and having fun.
7. It’s cost effective …seriously
Justifying the cost is always a concern, but I look at it as an investment in connections, education and revitalization. The bottom line is this is the time and the opportunity to develop better contacts with industry experts and to gain knowledge in specific areas of wine and tourism. For me, it is a wise investment yielding valuable dividends for years to come.
More about the Conference
The International Annual Wine Tourism Conference, Exhibition & Workshop occurs each spring and is considered the main event in the wine and culinary tourism industry.
Attended by over 300 wine and culinary professionals from more than 45 countries, it involves a 2-day program of 25+ talks, workshops, symposiums and a special social program. It offers delegates a unique opportunity to meet leading theorists and writers, and exchange ideas with fellow professionals from all sectors of wine and culinary tourism. It also provides an excellent base to discover the region it is held in as a grape escape destination.
It is truly a one-stop shop to discover grape escape destinations and many wines from around the world.