How do you build on a successful launch?
The Gin to My Tonic Show is the award winning event for outstanding craftmanship, delightful flavours and the most enjoyable drinking experiences.
Following a successful launch at the SEC in early 2019, we caught up with co-founders and event organisers, Paul Hudson-Jones & Emira Shepherd, to discuss how to build on a successful launch.
What is the aim of the gin show?
The premise of the show is to take consumers on a journey of gin discovery by bringing together over 60 brands in person from across the UK and beyond. You can meet-the-makers behind each of the brands, listen to their backstories, botanical make-up and tasting notes, but also sample gins for free as part of the ticket fee. When spending on average of £35+ on a bottle of gin, consumers need to make sure they’ve made an informed purchase, so this show really taps into that allowing them to enjoy a wide spectrum of flavours at a reasonable price point. There’s also workshops and masterclasses which offers educational snippets for those that want to know more about what they are drinking, along with full size G&Ts, cocktails and much more from behind the bars and the stalls. There’s even the opportunity to sample vodkas, rums and whiskies for those eager to explore other spirit categories.
You had a fantastic first show in Glasgow earlier this year. What do you think was key to your success?
Gin is popular which helps, but this was more than your everyday gin festival. The Scottish gin drinker is engaged and eager to learn, and so we wanted to put on a show that was a little different. With so many gin events on the market it was a bit of a risk but we knew with enough time and the right brands on board we could show how and why the show was special. This show really celebrated Scotland and its thriving drinks scene in a way no one else was doing.
When did you start to think about the next year?
Around three months prior to the show we knew 100% we wanted to come back for a second year. However, marketing an event and delivering an event are two separate things. Personally, it was important to get the consumer and exhibitor feedback from the live show to ensure the format had value and longevity. We put our hearts and souls into the creation of this show and thankfully the feedback was amazing. There was a little tear after we closed our doors on the final day and realised we had achieved what we set out to do. The show has since been nominated for ‘Scottish Gin Event of the Year’.
When did you start to re-book exhibitors and suppliers?
Immediately. It was important to reassure those connected to the show that this wasn’t a flash in the pan.
What new features can we expect at the next show?
The show was a success so we didn’t want to change the format hugely. However, we’ve signed up new brands, are showcasing a wider range of spirits (beyond just gin) and are giving the show a new look. They’ll also be different workshops and masterclasses, and of course we’ve listened to the consumer feedback and have tweaked things where necessary to improve everyone’s experience.
Whilst it’s nice to think you’ve delivered the perfect event as an event organiser, the reality is there is always something that can be improved.
What marketing tactics have you used to promote next year’s show?
With our business built around social media and it remains at the heart of the business. We started off as gin bloggers and built a strong following before deciding to create an events business around the brand. As such, we are very active on social media and like to keep our followers updated of all the developments in relation to the show, and the gin industry in general. This helps keep us in fresh in people’s minds, but also reassures potential customers that you are a credible organiser.
To help spread the word we also work with a number of social media influencers, we work collaboratively with our exhibitors and use local and national press.
Video content is also important. To be able to demonstrate an event visually is such a powerful thing. There are so many events available to consumers that you want to demonstrate quickly and efficiently why your event is different. Words don’t always do this, but video content when done correctly really has the power to capture the imagination.
Finally, one of the key differences for year two is our nomination for ‘Scottish Gin Event of the Year’. To be shortlisted by leading figures in the gin industry is an honour and really helps us to communicate the quality of the event.
How are you ensuring that the second show is just as great, if not better, than the first?
By not taking anything for granted. Events are all in the detail, so we review every element of the show and question whether the way we are doing things is the best way. We take all feedback on board (good and bad) and work closely with the venue and our sponsors. It’s always good to look at things with a fresh pair of eyes and not take yourself too seriously.
How do you feel about running your second exhibition in Glasgow?
There’s definitely more confidence going into this year, however, the expectation is now higher. It’s swings and roundabouts. As an event organiser there is a level of anxiety that never really goes away as there are so many variables. You just have to try and take every day in your stride and stay organised. Ultimately, we have a real passion for what we do and we think this comes across in the end result.
Do you have any key tips for organisers going into their next year?
Challenge your thinking, listen to feedback, look after your sponsors and customers, create quality marketing assets off the back of the previous event, and don’t be afraid to adapt and evolve. A cheeky G&T in the evening (or two) also helps!