All About the Business of Tea – a World Tea Expo 2018 Q&A
Samantha Hammer, World Tea Expo’s event director and World Tea brand leader, and Brian Keating, founder of Sage Group, a veteran tea industry analyst and an adviser to World tea Expo, talk about the upcoming event and related trends.
This Q&A was conducted by Gail Gastelu and originally published by The Tea House Times for their website eNews and series of trade show Q&As. The Tea House Times is a bi-monthly publication available in print or online and also produces weekly eNews, blog posts, online and in-person education and more.
Please tell us what sets your show apart from other similar shows in the same category in the USA and Canada?
Samantha Hammer: World Tea Expo is all about the business of tea. It is the leading trade show focused on advancing the business of tea. The event features hundreds of new tea products and related products on the expo floor, an in-depth educational program and lots of networking opportunities. It is a global marketplace for tea, and it gathers a melting pot of industries and professions from all over the globe. Some of the attendees that attend include: gourmet and specialty retailers, tea shops, coffeehouses and cafés, distributors and suppliers, beverage developers, restaurants, fast-casual establishments, foodservice, hotel F&B directors, chefs, grocers, mass merchants, convenience stores, manufacturers, private label brands, online shops, spa managers, and health and natural product businesses, among other trade professionals who want to learn more about tea and how to profit from it.
But what really helps set World Tea Expo apart is the community. The conference and expo is truly a global community of business leaders who want to learn, grow and help each other succeed. There’s no other event for the tea industry that has this kind of supportive, enthusiastic, passionate, international community. People attend World Tea Expo each year and make valuable business contacts that help them succeed.
What is it about your show that could help someone in the tea industry to be more successful (whether they are an importer, wholesaler, restaurant, hotel, retailer, serving or selling tea) as an exhibitor and as an attendee?
Samantha Hammer: For attendees, there are so many opportunities to learn about tea and how tea can help build a successful business. Attendees will discover new tea products, they’ll learn in educational sessions and workshops, and they’ll discover “what’s next” from the industry. Overall, the sessions cover a broad range of key topics to help businesses boost their sales and profit through tea; and there’s something for everyone across all vertical markets. For exhibitors, World Tea Expo is a platform to launch their business, reach new markets, make new connections and increase sales. We have many exhibitors that come back year after year, and we have many first-time exhibitors and sponsors, as well.
What do you see new or trending in the beverage industry overall?
Brian Keating: Wild and exotic tea-based beverages are booming worldwide, especially in America; bubble tea, kombucha and tea-based wellness tonics and of course, matcha-infused beverages. Tea retail is working ardently to re-invent itself as online tea merchants are eating a lot of brick-and-mortar share. Smart retailers understand it’s time to ramp up their service game, offer more in-store educational events and plan more intensive clerk training. Half of North America still does not drink tea daily or in some cases, ever; herein resides the opportunity for growth.
What do you see new or trending in the food and beverage industry that directly or indirectly applies to the tea industry?
Brian Keating: Conventional, mass market grocery brands are hurting as consumers shift toward more natural products free from additives, colorings, etc. Tea fits the bill perfectly as it is the epitome of a truly natural product. The big beverage companies are eyeing tea closely as soda consumption continues to decline in most markets.
What are the latest trends you have seen at your show over the past year?
Brian Keating: High technology gear for boiling water, brewing tea and endless new accoutrements; tea travel thermoses, special gong fu sets and more. Tea that has been flash-frozen fresh in the field and shipped to North America has intriguing potential. Herbal teas now proclaiming more health benefits, and organic teas remain exceptionally strong.
What are anchor highlights of your show every year?
Samantha Hammer: The expo floor, of course, is a big highlight of World Tea Expo each year. The exhibit hall features hundreds of new teas, teaware, brewing accessories and related products and services, many of which cannot be found at any other trade show.
The event also offers insightful educational sessions. Some of the 50-plus sessions include: Who’s Buying? A National Brand’s View of the U.S. Premium Tea Consumer; Tea Entrepreneurship: Growth and Navigating Your Business to Success; How to Launch a Custom Tea Blending and Private Labeling Program; Data Driven Decisions to Optimize Your Tea Business; Tapping into the Health Benefits Inherent in Tea with Allowable Label Claims; A Tea Producer’s Perspective on Sustainability of the Tea Industry; and Hospitality and Tea: How Your Tea Offering Distinguishes and Elevates Your Establishment.
And just before World Tea Expo kicks off, there’s a preconference program that runs June 10-11. The preconference agenda includes World Tea Academy Live and Tea Business Boot Camp. World Tea Academy Live is a joint relationship between World Tea Academy, Hula Consulting and Firedancer Coffee Consultants. This program is designed for intermediate tea and coffee professionals looking to take their tea training to the next level. The Tea Business Boot Camp is an intensive, hands-on program that covers critical topics facing the tea entrepreneur.
We’re also excited about the annual World Tea Awards, which has become a mainstay of the event. It’s open to all World Tea Expo attendees, and it honors some of the best and brightest from the tea industry, including tea luminaries who are shaping the industry. This year, Nigel Melican, managing director of Teacraft Ltd., will receive The John Harney Lifetime Achievement Award. The program takes place at World Tea Expo from 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, June 12.
The Global Tea Championship Winners Tasting Circle is always popular. It’s an opportunity for World Tea Expo attendees to taste Global Tea Championship medal-winning teas. The championship is an independent competition that evaluates and distinguishes the highest quality and best-tasting specialty teas.
What’s new this year? Is it something offered this year only or expected to continue?
Samantha Hammer: We’re thrilled to have our Special Events Main Stage this year with featured presenters. Each day at World Tea Expo, a different speaker will share insights on the main stage. And these talks will be followed by a meet-and-greet with each presenter. Tyler Gage, author of Fully Alive: Using the Lessons of the Amazon to Live Your Mission in Business and Life and co-founder of RUNA, will present Tea Entrepreneurship: Growth and Navigating Your Business to Success. Peter Keen, author of Tea Tips and the forthcoming Tea Worlds and Heroines of Tea, will cover Tea Heroines: Women Who Left a Thumbprint on History Through Tea. Katharine Burnett PhD, founding director of the Global Tea Initiative for the Study of Tea Culture and Science, will discuss Expanding the Understanding of Tea through a Global Perspective. Each presentation will take place 12:30-1:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 12, and 1:30–2:30 p.m. Wednesday, June 13, and Thursday, June 14.
We also have our first-ever Spanish session at World Tea Expo, presented by Omarly Alcina Fernandez, founder and manager of Kepen Corp. The session is Table for Tea! Giving Tea the Perfect Place in the Restaurant. It will also be available in English on the screen during the presentation.
Overall, we always have a fresh line-up of speakers and sessions—and this year’s educational agenda is no exception. Attendees can view the entire program at worldteaexpo.com.
What do you consider the best opportunity for networking at your show? (i.e. the show floor, after-hours events, awards, etc.)
Samantha Hammer: The entire event is one big networking opportunity! We encourage attendees to make connections on the expo floor, before and after sessions, at the World Tea Awards and even after the event by following up with the people they’ve met.
Another great opportunity to connect is the World Tea Awards & Opening Cocktail Reception, which takes place June 12.
There’s also a Networking Cocktail Reception from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, June 13, in the South Hall Lobby.
Jane Pettigrew’s World of Tea Book Release Party takes place from 4:30 to 5 p.m. Wednesday, June 13. It’s a chance to meet award-winning author and tea educator Jane Pettigrew, who has traveled the world in the study of tea. It’s also a celebration of the release of her newest book, and a great opportunity to mingle.
You can also try Morning Yoga Presented by the Tea Spot as a place to connect. That takes place 7-7:45 a.m. Wednesday, June 13, and Thursday, June 14, in the South Hall Lobby.
In addition, World Tea Expo has a Morning Tea Break on Tuesday, June 12, and Wednesday, June 13, 8–11 a.m. and an Afternoon Tea Break on Tuesday, June 12, and Wednesday, June 13, from 2 to 4 p.m. in the South Hall Lobby. The Morning Tea Tasting is sponsored by Teas Etc. It’s a terrific opportunity to enjoy a cup and share conversation with other attendees and exhibitors. And the Afternoon Tea Tasting will be sponsored by Flavor Wave; it’s a fun take on tea with Flavor Wave slushies. The tea and tropical fruit flavors will be a great way to slow down and cool down your busy days at World Tea Expo, while meeting new people.
We also recommend the TeaBloggers Round Table on Wednesday, June 13, from 1to 4 p.m. in room LVCC, S225. You can learn about blogging and make some new connections with tea bloggers.
How is your education organized? By track? Topic? Industry niche? Workshops? Seminars? Demos? On floor presentations?
Samantha Hammer: Overall, the education program encompasses a variety of learning environments from our full-day preconference programs that allow for in-depth topic discussion and focus, to our workshops and tastings that offer a more hands-on, small class size experience. The individual sessions cover: Social, Ethical & Environmental; Marketing & Retailer Skills; Tea Origins & Varietals; Tea Science, Technical, Regulatory; Diverse Tea Business Topics; Tea Business Development; and Culinary-Hospitality-Food Service.
How is your education priced? A package price? Per session? All free? In general… and provide links to further details.
Samantha Hammer: Passes to World Tea Expo include:
- Exhibit Hall Pass: Retailer / Distributor / Health Practitioner – $75
- Exhibit Hall Pass: Non-Retailer – $295
- Tea Guru Pass: $1,195
- Full Conference Pass: $495
- Conference One-day Pass: $245
There are also some education package add-ons, including:
- World Tea Academy Live: $1,295
- Tea Business Boot Camp: $695
- Origins Tasting Tour: $695
- Skill Building Workshops: $245
Specific details on all of the registration options and what’s included is available at WorldTeaExpo.com.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Samantha Hammer: We’re excited to welcome the thousands of professionals to the upcoming World Tea Expo in Las Vegas, June 12-14—with a preconference program June 10-11—at the Las Vegas Convention Center. And we encourage everyone who’s attending to take advantage of as many learning and networking opportunities as possible. Hone your tea industry skills. Stop by every exhibit booth. Discover the latest tea products and services. Get to know our 2018 Sponsors and meet as many industry leaders as possible. And try some of the winning teas at the Global Tea Championship Winners Tasting Circle. Make the most of the event! And drink lots of tea!