Earlier this month the Social Smoke team exhibited at the Hookah Club Show in St. Petersburg, Russia. The Social Smoke product fan base has been steadily growing in Europe with a more acute and larger interest growing in Russia. As this was the first time for Social Smoke to participate in a tradeshow featured in Russia we were excited and looking forward to exploring what Russia had to offer.
Having exhibited at several tradeshows in Europe, we knew to expect to be busy working through a very fast paced and energetic show. And that is exactly what the Hookah Club Show was all about. Happy, quick in business and super hyper, the two days we spent exhibiting flew by in a blur of fans, contests, and an exciting atmosphere of people who really love hookah.
To get a better idea of the Social Smoke experience at the Hookah Club Show, we asked our amazing photographer to give us her perspective of how the show went.
What was the show like overall?
Overall I would say the show was chill and showed a lot of potential for the Russian market. It really gave us a taste of what doing business in Russia could be like and it opened our eyes to the kind of relationships we could make in the future there.
Was it fast paced?
It was fast paced at times and at times chill, but I can definitely say there was never a dull moment.
What was the reception to Social Smoke by the audience?
I was taking photos and videos of the show and so I was definitely always observing reactions, and I saw so many smiling faces or people nodding after trying the flavors. My favorite thing to see was when I could recognize people on the second day who had come the day before. It's always nice to see that someone liked your product enough to want to stop in again. Overall the reception was great, at times the booth was so full there was a line outside of people waiting to come in and try it, and that was really great to see.
Who won the the hookah contest?
We actually didn't end up being part of the contest due to a miscommunication and to be honest with you we we’re quite busy to pay attention to what was going on outside of our booth.
This was my first European tradeshow. I had been to a show in Dubai, and I had been to a show in Las Vegas, and all though both shows were extremely fun for me I had never been to a show like this one. It was honestly an eye opening trip for me, and it was definitely a very humbling experience to see the growth of Social Smoke around the world. I've grown up in the company, and I guess the extent of the reach of our tobacco never really hit me. I never imagined I would ever go to Russia, I honestly felt so happy in Russia, there were so many great people, it was a beautiful country and I felt so welcomed and genuinely happy to be there I definitely hope to return!
What do you think you will change next year?
Bigger booth, more hookahs, more workers. Maybe next year we will position our booth a little farther from the stage haha, our booth was directly by the stage and the music was so loud at some points we would all just stare at each other in shock. But all jokes aside, I think we had such a great experience and now that we know what to expect we would love to come back to Russia to show an even better side of ourselves.
Is there a large market for Social Smoke in Russia?
Definitely. I think the market is even bigger than we had originally thought. Russia is a huge country, and the potential is endless. There are laws and regulations that we have to figure out how to work through and of course meeting the right partners in different areas will help speed this along.
Was there an extreme language barrier?
Thankfully, not at all. Our models were all multi-talented and had a working knowledge of our company, so if anyone had any questions they were mostly able to answer. They actually kind of had a system going where they would handout forms to fill out to potential distributors and then they would sit down for a meeting with the owners, and anytime there were any sort of language issues Victoria (one of our workers) would translate. We also had a few other workers who spoke both English and Russian who were a big help to us. Overall things went quite smoothly.
In addition, our local distributor, Nikita helped us immensely before and throughout the show and we will be forever grateful for his help and generosity. We ended up giving Nikita the custom hookah you can see in the photo gallery as a token of our appreciation for all of his help. He definitely deserved it!
What was your favorite thing about St Petersburg? Best food?
The city is breathtaking. There is such a combination of architectural styles, and it really makes the city one of a kind. In addition, the Hermitage, the Cathedral of Saint Petersburg, the various monuments, canals and waterways really add charm to the city that begs to be explored. Unfortunately for us, March is not the ideal time for a walking tour of the city but everyone agreed that Saint Petersburg is high on our list of places to revisit in the summer.
This is kind of a funny story but I felt like it is too good not to share. My father and I landed in St. Petersburg the day after Mohammad and Ali landed. We arrived the night before the show and we were drained and starving to say the least. Ali had mentioned that the restaurant right across from our hotel, Craft Brew Cafe, had great burgers so we decided to walk over for dinner. Unfortunately since it was a Friday night they were all booked so we walked back to our hotel, ate something at the hotel and passed out. The next night after the show was over it was pretty late and we were all tired and hungry so after trying to figure out a place to eat we ended up just walking across the street to Craft Brew and finally had the burgers (yes they were delicious). The next night we wanted to try something new but every restaurant we stopped at ended up either being too full or closing, so that night we ended up at Craft Brew Cafe again. Long story short- we ended up eating burgers at this restaurant almost every night before we left St.Petersburg, the waiter would even laugh and shake his head when he saw us walk through the door. We had so much fun there, laughing and talking for hours. That place ended up becoming our Cheers. I'm laughing just thinking about it.
Want to know more? Check out the video below highlighting the best moments from the show. And as always, feel free to comment or email any questions you have.