After being out of the office for a week, I’ve taken some time to settle back in, catch up on emails, and reflect on the recent conference I just attended. The WSWA 75th Annual Convention and Exposition, held at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas, is the largest gathering of wine and spirits distributors and suppliers from around the world. This year, the event was filled with engaging discussions about current industry challenges, mixologist and tasting competitions, and conversations about the future direction of the wine and spirits business.
Here are some of my takeaways from the event.
1. Insights into the wine and spirits business
I attended the WSWA opening event, where incoming WSWA chairman Barkley Stuart delivered the keynote. As someone who has more than 20 years of experience in the wine and spirits industry, Stuart shared insights into how the industry is fast-paced and changing due to the many mergers and consolidations. He also shared his strategic plan during his first year as chairman. One of his goals is to gain further understanding into consumer behavior and customer needs. He hopes that distributors and suppliers will partner with technology companies to gain further insights into how brands perform within the wine and spirits market.
Another interesting goal is to promote more diversity in the wine and spirits business. He hopes that WSWA as well as those in the wine and spirits business will work to advance more women and minority leaders. Stuart believes that businesses succeed when their teams knows and looks like their customer base, especially because they have a greater ability to reflect the customer’s voice. At Dimensional Insight, we hope to further support Stuart’s goals of innovating the industry and promoting diversity.
2. Face time with customers and prospects
WSWA is a great conference and opportunity to touch base with customers and provide live demos of our newest applications to potential prospects. Our sales team used the event as a way to catch up with old friends and meet with new customers, especially since we deeply value customer relationships at Dimensional Insight. We have amazing customers and we love hearing about their old and new projects. One of my favorite parts of WSWA was hearing how our customers are satisfied with our current version of Diver Platform. Our customers appreciate the speed that they can get results as well as their ability to dive into their data for additional insights.
3. Taste of the industry
Can you attend a wine and spirits conference without experiencing a tasting? The “Taste of the Industry” event was one part of the conference where everyone could let loose for a little bit, but still learn at the same time. For example, I learned a lot about the importance of a customer’s interaction with a bottle label as well as my preference for light spirits (such as rum) over dark ones (such as whiskey). I also had the opportunity to observe one of the few competitions that took place on the show floor: the Wholesaler Mixologist Competition. Mixologists had 30 minutes to make and serve the perfect cocktail with their new products. In fact, one of our customers, Troy Clarke, a mixologist from Martignetti, won the competition! Congrats, Troy!
4. Awesome speaker session by Fred Powers and Mike Brockway
Dimensional Insight CEO Fred Powers and Mike Brockway, consulting director, presented on “Keeping Pace with Business Using Technology” in the Pisa Suite at WSWA. Fred and Mike discussed the impact that technology has had on our customers and the importance of speed in analytics. They shared insights into how distributors and suppliers can use our applications, such as Supplier Advisor, Distributor Advisor, and Program Advisor in various scenarios in the typical days of a sales manager, sales rep, or CEO. Fred and Mike also enjoyed the Q&A style of their presentations, as potential prospects and customers asked questions about how our technology can be applied to help in the challenges within their businesses and/or the industry. This by far was one of my favorite moments from the show.
This year’s conference was one of our strongest and most valuable WSWAs because we learned more about the current challenges those in the industry face. We also learned the importance of how technology can help distributors and suppliers keep pace with their businesses. Now the real work comes: taking the insights and lessons learned and work to meet the current and future challenges in the beverage alcohol industry. We look forward to attending next year’s event from March 31-April 3, 2019 in Orlando.