Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America (WSWA) is celebrating 75 years as the premier industry event connecting America’s distributors with suppliers, importers, and exporters.

Cindy Nachman-Senders, Senior Consultant, Meetings & Conventions with WSWA, talks about this year’s convention taking place April 30 through May 3, 2018 in Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.

Talk about WSWA Convention and what sets it apart.

Celebrating our 75th year, the WSWA Annual Convention & Exposition is the only event in the industry exclusive to suppliers and wholesalers. Our primary goals are to unite wholesalers, brand builders, and experts in their market(s) with suppliers from around the world that are seeking to launch a new brand or expand current distribution for existing brands. This convention offers unrivaled access to wholesalers of all sizes and from every corner of the country.

What would you like bartenders and drinkers to know about WSWA?

The Convention & Exposition promotes mixology as an important part of a brand’s identity and mixologists as an integral piece of a marketing strategy. Our Call for Cocktails Mixology Competition allows brands to submit innovative and original cocktails into a live competition. From over 100 submissions, 14 cocktails are chosen and their mixologists then face off live on our competition stage in front of a panel of judges and a live audience. Our Wholesaler Iron Mixologist competition is where eight mixologists, each representing a unique wholesaler and their portfolio, must create two original cocktails in a timed competition using the secret ingredient that’s revealed at the start of the competition.

Both of these unique events help to build buzz, promote brands, and highlight the importance of mixology programs.

WSWA Cocktails on tray with garnish

WSWA Cocktails

Talk to us about some of the highlights over the past few years.

For suppliers, we offer three ways to engage with distributors: Exhibit Halls, Lower Level Hospitality Suites, and Traditional Hospitality Suites. The Exhibit Halls are the most cost-effective and provide value and exposure to attendees and social media influencers. Lower Level Hospitality Suites offer flexible and customizable private spaces on the meeting room level, while Traditional Hospitality Suites are for more established brands seeking private or by-appointment meetings with distribution partners.

Our Opening Night Reception showcases products from select suppliers and provides a premium networking opportunity for both suppliers and wholesalers. Our “Taste of the Industry” is our version of a grand tasting and offers a chance for suppliers to connect and with potential partners, media, and peers in a more intimate, direct setting.

Our General Session speakers are a Who’s Who of leaders in business and politics. You’ll have to check to see who they are, but we promise this year’s speakers will offer can’t-miss sessions.

What are some of this year’s highlights we should be on the lookout for?

This year, we’re returning with the very popular Brand Battle, our own version of Shark Tank, where brands pitch their products and marketing programs to a panel of industry experts and receive real-time feedback before a live audience. This is the start of our information-packed U.S. Beverage Alcohol Forum, held on the morning of the convention’s final day. It offers two educational sessions: “Deconstructing Threats to Reveal Your Market Advantage,” and “#Trending: The Power of Data and Social Media Influencers.”

In celebration of our 75th Diamond anniversary, we are introducing our Diamond Ring, a focal point which will be located within the Augustus Ballroom Exhibit Hall and offer rotating features such the Best of Show winners from 2017 and 2018 Tasting Competitions.

Cindy Nachman Senders, portrait

Cindy Nachman Senders

What’s Next for WSWA?

Like the rest of the industry, we all must constantly innovate and evolve to keep pace with the fast-developing and rapidly changing consumer landscape. We continue to focus on the ROI; we provide exhibitors and industry supplier partners by bringing in media from all over the country and working with YouTube influencers and bloggers, as well as tastemakers and influencers from all social media platforms.

And we continue to work with our exhibitors and sponsors to ensure they can get the most out of our unique audience of wholesalers looking to spot the next great product or market trend. One thing’s for sure: We’ve got the right combination of suppliers and wholesalers mixed in with great content and a bit of fun, too. We’re looking forward to an exciting 75th anniversary year for the WSWA Annual Convention & Exposition. Join us!