Solidarity through a crisis, discourse and exchange across borders, alternative paths in the new “normal” and drink innovations: From October 12-18, 2020, Global Bar Week brought the bar and beverage industry together digitally across four continents under one remarkable platform. For the first time, the most important global shows in the industry, Bar Convent Berlin, BCB Brooklyn, BCB São Paulo, and Imbibe Live, united to form a common platform to bring the industry together worldwide.
232 exhibitors presented themselves with virtual showrooms. Approximately 6,800 visitors from 77 countries attended virtually and took advantage of the multitude of resources and content made available at the debut Global Bar Week. Attendees informed themselves about the latest innovations, trends, product releases, and industry best practices. The majority of visitors came from the USA, Brazil, UK, and Germany, but attendees from all corners of the world such as parts of Europe, India, Mexico, and Singapore also actively used the virtual platform.
“We are so proud of what we have created together,” said BCB Director Petra Lassahn at the end of the week-long event. “In what has been a year like no other, we have opened up new paths and possibilities for the future with the Global Bar Week digital platform. The breadth and variety, we were able to offer proved very valuable for our participants, especially during this current crisis. Digital trade fairs will never replace live shows, but this year, they have given us a unique opportunity to come together as an industry, across all countries and continents, despite the pandemic. I would like to take this opportunity to thank my colleagues in the USA, Brazil, and the UK for their cooperation. Together we have also lived the ‘BCB spirit’ digitally,” Petra continues.
This year’s Global Bar Week provided many functions for the industry – as a forum for exchange, a top-level educational program, a think tank, and an innovation show. Matchmaking, a kind of dating platform for business, was an important tool for the participants as a way to build their business and create professional connections. A total of around 1,000 personal video meetings took place during Global Bar Week, where attendees and exhibitors had the opportunity to exchange contact data and generate leads.
Content from top speakers
Education traditionally plays an important role at BCB and this year was no exception. Panels and seminars were led by renowned industry peers, with attendees clocking in nearly 3,000 hours viewing programming content. From nearly 150 lectures and discussion rounds to choose from: from topics surrounding coronavirus – what it means to the industry and how to navigate the future, to covering important social and societal issues where attendees heard from diverse expert voices across the industry.
The most sought-after content ranged from spirits, beverage, and consumer trends, drink, and menu design, a look behind the scenes of bars from all over the world, and fundamentals, such as the “History of Cocktails in 30 Drinks”. Other panels in demand included, “How to Become the Best Bartender in the World,” “Low & No Aperitif”, and “The AeroPress preparation of coffee.”
Key Industry Trends Evidenced during Global Bar Week
There were some prevalent industry trends and insights that emerged during the program. In a discussion with Park Street, analysts Mike Provance (PhD, CEO, 3X3), and Matt Crompton (Client Solutions Director, Nielsen CGA) found that the tequila category showed the largest consumer growth during the past six months of COVID-19 with RTDs closely following. In regard to trends based on consumer behaviors, customers will be increasingly conscious of their buying power and will support brands and venues with authentic voice
and diversity, was one of the many key takeaways discussed from the panel titled, “Black Lives Matter, Now What? How To Address Black Consumers.” Speakers Johnny Caldwell and Taneka Reaves, of Charleston Beverage, Fatima Butler (Rooted in Hospitality), and
Samara B. Rivers, (Black Bourbon Society) also recommended that securing new accounts in new and diverse areas to be incorporated into sales quotas, allowing for consumers to discover new brands and build brand loyalty as well as an opportunity for increased
revenue for brands. On-premise, reservations will continue to be essential for both guests and venue operators, to allow security and peace of mind for guests, and for operators to be able to turn over tables with a set time frame, ensuring a flow of guests.
“We built a robust and useful digital meeting place and lecture hall that provided practical, inspiring, and relevant education for our vast and diverse community,” said BCB Director of Education, Angus Winchester. “Feedback has been amazing, and the extension of the education program means more time to explore new topics, hear new voices and opinions and continue to move forward to the new normal. I thank all speakers who shared their experiences with us.”
“With the outpouring of collective warmth and solidarity across the global bar industry, and the success of Global Bar Week now behind us, we look forward to welcoming everyone in person next year in Brooklyn,” shares Carlos Rodriguez, BCB Event Director.
The next Bar Convent Brooklyn is set to take place at the Brooklyn Expo Center in June 2021. The next Imbibe Live will be taking on 5 & 6 July 2021, Olympia London. And the next Bar Convent Berlin will take place from 11 to 13 October 2021 at the Berlin Exhibition Grounds.