New blood, new ideas, new events

Face to face with Vinexpo’s chief executive officer Rodolphe Lameyse

Vinexpo’s dynamic new CEO Rodolphe Lameyse has been an international trade event organiser for more than 20 years, most recently running Food & Hotel Asia (FHA) out of Singapore. In that time, he has developed a breadth of experience that makes him the perfect candidate to guide the Vinexpo brand through an exciting phase in its growth and diversification – typified by the launch of groundbreaking new Vinexpo events in Chinese commercial hub Shanghai later this year, and in French capital Paris during January 2020.

Vinexpo Daily caught up with Rodolphe Lameyse as he prepared to immerse himself in his first Vinexpo Bordeaux 2019; and began by asking him what he regards as the main challenge facing him in his new role.

There are several challenges associated with managing a prestigious exhibition brand like Vinexpo, but at this juncture I would say that my first priority is to ensure the smooth running of our expanded portfolio of annual events. In addition to 2019 Vinexpo exhibitions in Bordeaux, Hong Kong, Shanghai and New York, we are introducing our new exhibition in Paris in January 2020. So it is imperative that we make this annual cycle of events as exciting and effective as possible. It is critical for us to clearly articulate the unique benefits of each of these exhibitions to our clients, and explain why hosting a network of exhibitions in different regions around the world can be of real value to them.

Why did it make sense to hire a CEO from outside the wine business?

This is the first time Vinexpo has hired a chief executive from outside the wine business; but the crucial point to recognise is that my experience and expertise in marketing and the exhibition industry directly matches the wider industry that Vinexpo operates in. So what I bring to the table is a highly relevant set of skills rather than narrowly-defined experience of the product being exhibited. This was a deliberate strategic choice on the part of the Vinexpo board in order to meet the challenges and demands of an increasingly competitive marketplace.

The ideas and insights I am able to introduce from the broader event marketing business will, I believe, deliver the growth that Vinexpo’s new global development plan has been set up to achieve. Keep in mind also that I will be supported by a close-knit and talented team that has demonstrated vast know-how and success in creating specialist events in the wine and spirits sector.

How will your experience as an event organiser shape your role at Vinexpo?

During my career, I have acquired a lot of experience working on events all over the world; in various time zones, with different customers, across a wide array of industry sectors. So I am acutely aware of the opportunities and challenges that the portfolio of Vinexpo exhibitions bring; and especially what needs to be done for each event to stand out. In particular, I would argue that my experience working on the Food & Hotel Asia portfolio will bring real added value to the Vinexpo proposition. At Vinexpo, we welcome clients from all over the world, with a myriad of cultures and expectations. We also work with numerous trade associations and government bodies on our international exhibitions. So the knowledge bank I have built up will help Vinexpo tackle its key challenges.

What would you say is key to delivering a great exhibition?

When you run an exhibition like Vinexpo, you need to have a genuine 360-degree approach to servicing the needs of exhibitors and visitors. You need to be agile, responsive and have the capacity to cope with all the different issues that inevitably come up in such a fast-moving environment. It goes without saying that our exhibitions need to have a strong business dimension and be completely relevant to our exhibitors’ and visitors’ commercial needs. But it’s not all about business. I’d say the most important ingredient for anyone coming to one of our exhibitions is that they have a great experience. We want them to feel immersed in it, engaged and inspired – so that they really want to come back next time!

THE TRUTH IS THAT DEVISING A STRATEGY IS ONE THING, ENSURING ITS DELIVERY IS THE REAL TEST.

What excites you most about the new job?

This was a fantastic opportunity for me to join the Vinexpo brand at a critical time in its history. It is exciting that we are expanding the number of exhibitions we do each year, particularly when you consider our newest host cities are Shanghai and Paris.
I am also excited to be spearheading Vinexpo at a time when it has elected to introduce a re-energised brand management strategy. But there is much more to it than that. The truth is that devising a strategy is one thing, ensuring its delivery is the real test. Over the coming year, we will do everything in our power to convince the market and our stakeholders of Vinexpo’s benefits. This was what attracted me the most – because it’s an intriguing challenge.

THE SYMPOSIUM WILL BE A SIGNIFICANT OPPORTUNITY … WE HAVE MANAGED TO PULL TOGETHER A VERY IMPRESSIVE LINE-UP OF EXPERTS AND COMMENTATORS AS SPEAKERS (…)

What is new at Vinexpo Bordeaux that you are keen to talk about?

First of all, we are delighted to welcome new countries to the exhibition for the first time: Turkey and Vietnam. It will probably be the first time that people get the chance to taste wines, for example, from Vietnam.

It is an important part of the Vinexpo promise for us to be able to offer something new to taste. At the same time, we need to stay abreast of key trends in the market. So we are also extremely pleased to be able to present WOW (World of Organic Wines). Organic wine is an increasingly important market.

In addition, there is the first Vinexpo Symposium on climate change. This is clearly a defining issue for the entire food and drinks sector, so the Symposium will be a significant opportunity to see what steps key stakeholders are taking to address the enormity of this challenge. We have managed to pull together a very impressive line-up of experts and commentators as speakers, so it is going to be fascinating and educational to listen to their views. Beyond the treat of hearing them speak, it is also a rare opportunity to network and engage with them during the exhibition. That’s really important. I am convinced we will have many more symposiums in the future on other important topics and themes.

Vinexpo is not just about Bordeaux; it is becoming a global brand through its network of events. Tell us more about what we can expect in the future.

Vinexpo is reinventing itself in a tough, competitive international climate. I am convinced the brand’s global reach gives it a compelling advantage. We are the only truly global brand offering a platform for our exhibitors and visitors to network, come together and do business on three continents: the US; Europe and Asia.

Historically, the foundation of Vinexpo’s growth has been the quality of the offer at each of its exhibitions, the relevance of its content and the return on investment it generates. What we must do now is continue to expand the geographical and strategic remit of our exhibitions. We are doing this in France, with Vinexpo Paris launching in January 2020, and we will also extend internationally this year, with Shanghai in October. Those are the immediate opportunities. But we are not going to stop there and will look at how we can expand our portfolio and develop it for the benefit of our exhibitors.

Geographic expansion, however, cannot be an end in itself. In a wider sense, we need to continue to improve our customer-led solutions to consolidate our role as the global leader for all players in the international wine and spirits sector. We want to nurture a reputation for giving a “Vinexpo touch” to everything associated with our exhibitions. This can already be seen in the quality of the conferences, the rich programme of tastings and masterclasses, the food, the restaurants and the overall hospitality. As I said earlier, making a long-term sustainable success of Vinexpo is not just about getting the business side right, we also have to deliver an engaging hospitality and visitor experience as well.

Will the various Vinexpo events be identical or differentiated in some way?

Vinexpo Bordeaux is a blueprint for the bespoke approach we will be implementing worldwide. We want to focus on differentiating the new-look Bordeaux exhibition from Vinexpo Hong Kong, or in the near future the new Vinexpo Paris – with its focus on spirits. We are tailoring the content according to each exhibition, so that it is uniquely positioned to serve the needs of the exhibitors, producers and visitors who, ultimately, make it what it is.

We are adopting a ‘think global, act local’ approach which perhaps I can describe with the phrase ‘quality of discovery’. This discovery experience is about making each Vinexpo exhibition unique. But, at the same time, discovery is something I want to develop as common ground for each exhibition. So it is an example of a unified vision for the brand, supported by a localised, relevant execution.


RODOLPHE LAMEYSE CAREER HIGHLIGHTS

  • Rodolphe Lameyse, 46, graduated from Kedge Bordeaux (formerly Sup de Co Bordeaux) and holds an MBA from HEC Paris.
  • As head of marketing and client services at Reed Midem in France, he oversaw digital marketing, e-business and the entire customer experience, from visitor recruitment to the in-exhibition experience.
  • Between 2014 and 2019 Lameyse was based in Singapore, initially managing a consulting company in the exhibition industry, before joining Informa (formerly UBM) as director of Food & Hotel Asia (FHA) events.
  • Lameyse has more than 20 years of experience working on major international trade exhibitions. His focus is on delivering added-value support and expertise to exhibitors and visitors, while helping customers maximise their international expansion strategies by delivering exhibitions that best showcase their offer.

Photo: Rodolphe Lameyse, CEO, Vinexpo