BCB chiefs set out expansion vision

08 October, 2018

Bar Convent Berlin kicks off its new three-day format today. Hamish Smith spoke to show director Petra Lassahn and director of education, Angus Winchester, about what to expect from the show this week and into the future.

What’s new at BCB this year?

PL: We have one more day of the show. We were almost sold out last year and we are sold out this year. We expect 14,000 visitors from 70 countries. There are 433 exhibitors, which is up 17% on last year.

AW: Day one at BCB is about content for managers and owners. They are an under-served market. It doesn’t matter how good your bar team is if your leadership team isn’t very good. Day two is more about creativity and we have three of the most creative bartenders on the planet – Joe Schofield, Micah Melton and Frankie Solarik. They are pushing the boundaries of what we are calling a bartender. Day three is about entrepreneurship – there are so may bartenders launching consultancy companies, brands and tools.

With new shows in Brooklyn and Sao Paulo, BCB is becoming a global brand. Are there plans to roll the show out to further locations?

PL: We will look at the continents where the market has a requirement for the show. But it’s not the plan to have a new BCB every year in another part of the world. It has to make sense. Sao Paulo is a huge market and many of our exhibitors have asked for [a show in] Brazil and we’ve done market research and found there’s a requirement from the visitor side.

AW: Sao Paulo is a very under-served market. But the market is connected into a global network through social media and they probably thinking: ‘why the hell do we not get some of this stuff down here’. It’s not so much a push but a pull factor as well.

With dozens of bar shows around the world, is it getting harder to create bespoke content?

AW: I have very strong opinions on education. I try to stay away from opinion topics and panels because no real messaging gets across. Education has to be practical, relevant and interesting. Am I trying to be radically different from other people [putting on education at bar shows]? No. Am I trying to provide great education for the people here, yes. We’re not aimed at civilians, this is a trade show and the education is relevant to them. I’ve also tried to find new voices.

How do you balance local and international needs?

AW: If you’re from Germany and you want to see great German speakers, you can go to see them. You come to this show to see the best people from around the world. This is a European bar show. In Sao Paulo we will have some named bartenders to add some cache to the show and bring interesting education, but we will definitely show off the best of things that are happening locally. It’s a balancing act and I will speak to people to see who and what they would like to see.

There’s overlap between World Class and BCB this year – was this something you were consulted on?

PL: It’s been a good collaboration with Diageo. They wanted to do World Class in Berlin this year so they thought it was a good idea to move it to the Autumn around BCB. They will bring bartenders from almost 60 countries to the city. It makes BCB a bar week – the whole industry is here. Everyone is happy with the arrangement.

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