Meet Anastasia Zakatova, a.k.a. Asya, the businesswoman behind the Hookah Club Show
The Hookah Club Show is an international hookah exhibition that will take place in Saint-Petersburg on the 28/02, 29/02 and 01/03 of this year. We had the luck to meet Anastasia, the brilliant founder of this big event, who happened to be also the owner of a chain of hookah bars in Russia…
Hi Asya ! First of all, introduce yourself to the Chichamaps readers 🙂
Hi, my name is Anastasia Zakatova. I own a chain of hookah Lounges «Omar Khayyam» in St. Petersburg and Moscow. These lounges are more than 5 years old. They were one of the first hookah lounges in St. Petersburg. Back then, the hookah industry in Russia was only gaining strength. I’m also organizing the biggest hookah show in the world, the Hookah Club Show. As well as Lounges, the exhibition was the first and for a long time the only event of this format in Russia. Now, this is a big serious event that the whole world is going to attend. I am also the President of the hookah Union of Russia. The aggressive policy of the state towards Smoking threatens the existence of hookah culture in Russia. My goal and the Union’s goal is to protect the industry from government attacks.
Tell us a bit more about the Hookah Club Show ?
The Hookah Club Show is a specialized hookah exhibition that has been held for 5 years. For the last three years, the event retains the title of the largest hookah event in the world by area. This year the exhibition will occupy 26 000m2. 300 exhibitors and manufacturers from all over the world of hookahs, hookah tobacco, bowls, coal and accessories gather under the giant roof of the Expoforum exhibition complex in Saint Petersburg, Russia. About 13,000 visitors from 58 countries will get acquainted with all the new products of the hookah world for three days. This will be a huge, gigantic event, the scale of which was not seen by the world hookah community.
Why to come over? Because even a person not related to the hookah industry will be amazed and surprised by the splendor of the event, and I think that professionals and the people associated with hookahs must attend this event to be aware of the latest world’s hookah trends. After all, the entire hookah industry will be here !
How and why did the Hookah Club Show start ?
I am a marketer with three higher education degrees and I have been involved in exhibitions in my professional career. When I opened my first lounge, I realized that the hookah industry does not have enough events, that the industry is growing fast, and the young one needed to exchange experiences and establish connections.
At first, it was a relatively small hall of 3 500m2, and we expected 1 000 visitors. And when 2 700 people visited the exhibition in the first year, it became clear that we needed to expand. The next year there were already 8 000m2 and 5 000 people showed up ! 13 000 and 8 000 people followed. In the last year, 10 000 people came to an area of 20 000m2. We realized that the exhibition was becoming more and more famous when not only Russian visitors but also those coming from abroad were literally making a countdown until the next Hookah Club Show event ! Our event became a starting point for the “hookah” year, just like the New Year’s Eve somehow. It became clear that my initiatives were not in vain.
So tell us what’s new this year and why we should all attend ?
This year, the exhibition will be held for the first time during three days. The first day is B2B. It is intended exclusively for professional communication – negotiations, conclusion of contracts, work of bloggers covering the release of new products on the market, etc. The Hookah Club Show has always been famous for its professional efficiency, but due to the huge number of visitors, quiet negotiations were often difficult to have. The show, which took place in the hall, distracted both producers and visitors from business communication. Therefore, it was decided to make the exhibition in three days. The second reason for this is the increased area of the halls. Last year, it was difficult for people to meet 270 exhibitors in two days, and when the area grew to 26 000m2, it became clear that this was not physically possible. And we gave visitors another day to explore the event’s spaces.
Also, such a popular and favorite format of the event as a professional lecture hall has acquired new colors. This year, all three days in the seminar hall will work super-popular educational project «Prokachaem» (Pump). Leading bloggers, lecturers and business coaches, coaches, marketers provide seminars on professional hookah topics.
Also, the stage program will be very interesting. On the main stage of the Hookah Club Show, round tables will be held, including with representatives of the authorities on legal hookah regulation and legislative initiatives of the state in the hookah sphere.
There will also be three professional hookah competitions: «Classic hookah», when masters compete only on the ability to prepare hookah, using only a limited range of equipment. All have the same hookahs, tobacco, coal, bowls… the Judges evaluate their skills blindly. «Obstacle course» — a fun dynamic competition simulating the work of a master in a very popular cafe, for the passage of a person with a hookah interfere with a maximum of obstacles. Stairs, doors, tables, the feet of the guests. The master must run as fast as possible and deliver the hookah to the table of a particular guest.
The «Hookah Battle World Cup» is a World Cup final that takes place in different countries. The Hookah Club Show brings together the winners of regional competitions from all over the world and compete with each other. The idea of the contest is to create the most creative hookah from anything. Hookah gun, hookah bike, hookah cake, hookah car or balloon. What was not at this competition for 8 years of its holding. Let’s see what the contestants come up with this year.
That sound super interesting and rich ! Now tell us, how would you define the «Hookah Culture» in three words ?
For Russia, hookah culture is primarily a culture of communication. Hookah ritual allows you to put down the phone and look into the eyes of the companion. This is a new format of recreation, when relaxation and leisure time at the table in the company of friends is possible without alcohol. Hookah is a lifestyle and subculture that has found a very big response in Russia.
According to you, why Russian people like hookah so much and how did it become so famous throughout the years ?
Russia, for the whole hookah world – is a factory of ideas and creativity. Russian businessmen are very young. 5 years ago, the average age of hookah businessmen was 20 years ! And young minds are inquisitive and mobile. The desire to become better, to find your way, to invent something in the soul of this generation is not quenched. In Russia, every year there are such ideas, and they find implementation, which have not even originated in other parts of the world. As for the Arab and Turkish countries, there are not many smokers in Russia, but the speed with which the industry is developing and how quickly it is updated, suggests that if nothing changes the situation from the legislative point of view, the hookah market in Russia will surpass all countries of the world. It is not for nothing that the largest exhibition in the world takes place here.
Indeed, we can definitely say that Russia is one of the most active and innovative countries in this area.
Now, we would like to know what are the 5 hookah bars you would advise us to visit in the beautiful city of Saint-Petersburg !
Of course, I will be happy to see you in my lounges «Omar Khayyam» on Kolokolnaya street 9 and on Vasilievsky island 6-th Line 29.
I also highly recommend the highly professional hookah bar, which is owned by the oldest specialist in the industry Eduard Ismagilov «Expert bar» on 34 Dostoevsky street.
Also in Moscow also please visit us in «Omar Khayyam» – Bolshoy Cherkasskiy per 4
To finish, give us one city that is not in Russia, where you would like to enjoy a hookah ?
I like two hookah restaurants that I always visit when I come to these countries. One is in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt and is called «El Farsha«. Very atmospheric hookah on the edge of a cliff with a beautiful view of the sea. It’s all made up of antique items. Cosy Lounges, Oriental music and traditional hookahs will always be to capture the charm tourists.
The second is in Istanbul, Turkey, «Çorlulu Ali Paşa Medresesi» on Yeniçeriler street. This is one of the most authentic hookah bars I have ever seen. And no wonder-hookah 400 years. Here are classic Turkish hookahs. I always visit this place when I’m in Istanbul. Even though, I always stay at the Divani Ali hotel to be closer to my favorite places in Istanbul, Hagia Sophia, Grand Bazaar and Anadolu hookah !
We are also big fans of the city of Istanbul and its beauties at Chichamaps !
Thank you a lot for this exchange and we are happy and excited to be a partner of the Hookah Club Show this year ! 💪
WHAT : Hookah Club Show 2020
WHEN : on the 28/02 (B2B), 29/02 and 01/03
WHERE : Expoforum — St Petersburg, Russia
TICKETS : visit Kalyan.events website !