Bringing Paris to Singapore

CDI World

At CDI World, we love working with organizations that are passionate about their products. We were therefore excited to work with GREYYS to showcase Cafés Richard, a leading French coffee roaster, at the Food and Hotel Asia Show in Singapore. We spoke to Norman Delouis, Director and General Manager at GREYYS about the experience and what made this event so special.

At GREYYS there is clearly an emphasis on quality and integrity of products. Why did you choose CDI World as your partner for the Food and Hotel Asia Show?

We chose to partner with CDI World for this project via a recommendation. Last year, we worked on another project led by CDI World Singapore’s Bryan Bay for a different brand partner. There was very good feedback from my colleagues in terms of quality of work and responsiveness, so we decided it was the right way to go for this event, too.

One of CDI’s specialties is creating booths that are more of an experience than a mere information point. Was the concept of a Parisian Café something that you set out to achieve from the start, or did it evolve?

There was a lot of influence from our brand partner Cafés Richard in Paris – they have brand guidelines and have been attending exhibitions in the past. We took the brief and worked together to create a vision that not only adhered to the brand guidelines, but also achievable with the resources that we had available in Singapore. Our brand partners wanted a traditional, Parisian-style café and we managed to make or source resources that aligned with that vision, but with some small tweaks to meet the Singaporean market. Cafés Richard had a big influence on some of the visuals; for example, they provided wall murals.

We had some great conversations over Zoom with Cafés Richard in France, Bryan at CDI World, and the team at GREYYS where we bounced ideas, talked about the vision, and gently tweaked the brand partner’s vision based on logistics, for example they wanted marble tables and wooden chairs, which would not have been feasible with the high footfall that we were expecting.

The 3D renderings came fast so that our brand partners in Paris could check them over; they were thrilled with what we had done while adhering to brand guidelines. The overall experience was very elegant and everyone visiting said it felt like going on a little trip to Paris for a few hours.

The detail in the booth was incredible; were there any touches that exceeded your expectations?

Yes, I think that the attention to detail on a lot of topics really went above what we had anticipated.  We wanted the coffee machine to be the center of the show and for people to gravitate towards that. The booth arrangement really enabled this, and people naturally were drawn to the coffee machine as centerpiece. The finishing and quality of all the materials used was very good, too. The wooden laminate that was used was of such a high quality that it felt like wood. The counter running along the back was a particular achievement as it created an inviting environment and gave people the opportunity to interact with our baristas and see our product in action.

We also had a privacy corner to the side of the booth which worked very well. The L-shape meant that the walls didn’t obstruct the views of the booth, but still offered a special, discreet area where we could engage with customers. Even the floor color was on brand; they managed to find a shade of grey that fits with the murals and was on brand for Café Richard. This kind of incredible attention to detail shows how the team at CDI World go above and beyond.

One of the greatest surprises was the incredible functionality of the booth. We wanted to give people an experience, so we had fresh croissant delivered every morning and it was our aim to take people on a sensory adventure while letting our products stand out.

We were one of a few coffee stands, so the smell of coffee and pastries lured people to us! The footfall was slightly higher than expected; we had done a lot of groundwork prior to the event, so had plenty of meetings arranged, but we also had lots of random, happy encounters. We managed to engage with some people that we had been trying to get in touch with previously, but who just happened to come in during the show.

It sounds as though you were incredibly busy! What kind of numbers of people did you see?  

Our approach worked as, in terms of numbers, we were a fully functioning coffee shop! We served around 800 cups of coffee in 5 days. Our three baristas were more like brand ambassadors, running demos, stocking up, and keeping the coffee flowing. They, combined with the quality of the booth, meant that the footfall and numbers of people served were reflective of a normal, busy coffee shop.

Another helpful element in the booth design was that there was plenty of space, so despite the high footfall, we were able to redirect people so that the space didn’t feel too full, and the coffee shop element didn’t detract from the real reason we were there; to showcase our wares and make new business.

It sounds as though the booth was a huge success. Is there anything that you would change if you could do it over?

There is nothing that I thought of at the time, but now that you ask, I think the finishing touch that would have made it even more amazing would be to have a mirror at the back of the bar, behind the coffee machine. It is very traditional in a Parisian café and makes a huge impression while creating the feeling of more space. I am not sure if the use of mirrors could work in a booth scenario, but it is something that I will think about and discuss with the design team in the future.

I understand that sustainability is something that is important to you moving forward. How was that reflected in the booth design?

Maison Denis, our parent group, is committed to carbon neutrality by 2040 and full packaging recyclability by 2030. This applies to every aspect of our operation, including our partners and product and material suppliers. Of course, the event industry is notoriously challenging in terms of sustainability, but there are things that we can do to minimize waste. Materials are responsibly sourced and recycled if they cannot be reused. For us, this show was all about coffee and not only did the booth showcase our coffee, but we used it, too, which meant that products weren’t wasted at the end of the show. In fact, we only had six bags of coffee left over at the end of the show, which will be used by staff in the office in the coming weeks.

We tried to avoid using single-use coffee cups; our coffee was served in branded china coffee cups, which were then washed and reused. This had the added benefit of keeping the people in our booth so that we could engage with them about our products, at least until they had finished their coffee! On the occasions that people did need coffee to go, we used Cafés Richard branded compostable cups made from recycled materials.

One of the biggest things we did was eliminate the use of business cards. Over 10 billion business cards are printed each year, and it is estimated that 88% at least go in the bin. We use plastic cards with a QR code to link to our contact details and with a small chip that interacts with a phone to automatically download contact information to the phone’s directory. We had one set of cards, for one salesperson, in case the client preferred the hard copy, but wherever possible we used our digital ones. With our commitment to carbon neutrality, it is these small changes that will make a big difference.

Now the big question: if you could only drink one drink for the rest of your life, would you choose?

I wish I could say coffee but that wouldn’t be sustainable. I would have to choose another brand we run. It is the perfect drink because it is healthy and there is excitement to it – there is a fresh experience every time you drink it. Perrier has a beautiful clean taste; both the water and gas are captured from source and whilst it is healthy because it’s water, it is not boring; the large bubbles make it a delight to drink.  

That is wonderful, thank you! Is there anything else you would like to say about working with CDI World Singapore?

The show obviously went very well. The fact that we had a previous partnership helped but Bryan was very responsive throughout, which made a huge difference. In Asia we work a lot in WhatsApp with group chats; when you have such a time consuming, heavy investment event you need to be in constant comms and WhatsApp is a great solution for that. There are always last-minute things that come up, but Bryan’s constant availability and responsiveness were great.

The brand owners were very happy with the trip; travelling 15 hours to attend a show is not a small thing, so they were delighted with the large number of very good business opportunities that their first show with us generated.

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