Alison was Exhibition coordinator for a UK firm for many years, responsible all aspects of her company's Trade Show presence.
When planning any exhibition stand or trade show booth, the staff who present the ‘face’ of your company are a crucial factor.
It does not matter if you have banner stands, a pop-up display stand or the most expensive ‘all bells and whistles’ bespoke exhibition stand. If your staff are not well-trained and enthusiastic with the ability to attract visitors to your stand and engage them in conversation and convert those conversations into sales leads, then you are wasting your time (and your money).
Read on to learn the tips for a successful trade show with appropriate training for your trade show booth personnel.
Choose Personnel Carefully
In my opinion, it is vital to have staff from your sales team on the stand at all times. By all means, have technical back-up available but your ‘front-line troops’ must be salespeople. Staff from the ‘shop floor’, the manufacturing and production areas of your business are not only a great asset if chosen carefully, but will go away from the Exhibition more motivated and focused and feeling part of the team.
How Many Stand Staff Do I Need?
Obviously this depends upon the size of the stand and the number of people that you have available. There are however a couple of guidelines:
- Never have less than two people at any one time - you will need one person keeping an eye on your expensive Exhibition Equipment during set up and breakdown whilst materials and literature are being transported to and from your vehicles. You will also need to ensure that the staff can take a break and leave the stand manned.
- Increase numbers of staff according to the size of the stand. A good 'rule of thumb' is to work on one person for every meter of frontage - for example, six people on a stand 6m x 3m which means that there will always be at least four people working at any time.
Full-Time or Part-Time Staff?
My own experience is that it is more successful to have a core team of people full-time at the show. These can then be supplemented by management and staff from all areas of the business on a day-to-day basis.
Should I Use an Agency or Temporary Staff?
There are many exhibition staffing companies and agencies that provide promotional staff who act as temporary staff for stands. They may be ‘resting’ actors or models or perhaps students and normally come through an agency who will obviously charge for their services. Temporary staff can be used to great effect, freeing you and your staff to talk business to your visitors
Exhibition Staff Training
Maximizing results from visitors to your stand means having staff trained to gain maximum benefit for your company from every opportunity. Make use of any training offered by the exhibition organizers.
Organise training sessions for every member of staff coming to the Exhibition, whatever part of the Company they come from and for however long, or short a time they are going to be on your stand. This can be done in group sessions of about one hour for non-sales staff and this should be enough to cover the basics. Your core team will obviously meet more frequently prior to the Exhibition to talk over approach, tactics, objectives and targets.
All staff should be trained on the Unique Selling Points (USPs) of your Company. Give every stand staff member a copy of the following, which you can use as a template to fill in your company USPs. Once staff is able to answer the question, what is special about my company, they will able to represent you with pride and enthusiasm (which is a great selling point in itself).
U.S.P.s (Unique Selling Points)
- What is special about my product?
- What is unique about my approach?
- How do I do things differently to competitors?
- Have I got special accreditation such as ISO9002, Investors in People or am I a member of a recognised trade body such as The Booksellers Association or The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors?
- Have I got any special delivery arrangements, methods of ordering (can I receive orders via the company website for example)?
- What customer support do I offer after the sale?
- Are there any special ‘add-ons’?
- What represents real value for money?
- Is there a special offer at this Exhibition?
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All staff should learn and inwardly digest this as it is important that there is a commonality in approach - in other words, that everyone is 'singing from the same song sheet'.
Everyone working on the trade show booth should be encouraged to engage with visitors and to talk about their own role in the company. For example, in the Laundry I worked for, a Chef visiting the stand was interested to talk to the lady who did the embroidery of his name on his jackets.
Appoint an Exhibition Booth Manager
Your exhibition booth manager will have overall responsibility for the duration of the show - of course, this could be you! He, or she, should appoint a stand coordinator, a different person for each day of the show and this could be a junior member of staff. In my experience, this leads to excellent team development as well as generating fun for the individual concerned.
The stand co-ordinator's responsibility is to ensure that breaks are taken regularly and on time, (I would suggest at least two half-hour and one hour-long break per day and more if possible). The stand coordinator is responsible for making sure that the stand is tidy at all times and that there are sufficient literature and give-aways available.
Appoint a First Aid Person
This could be the stand manager. They need to look after the health and safety manual and first aid kit. It is not permissible to have pain killers in the First Aid Kit but it is a good idea for team members to keep some headache tablets available for their own use.
Staff Badges and Identification
Make sure that your people have good identification and that they wear it properly. Badges clipped to a belt are not easily seen. Remember too, that your stand staff may not be allowed into the show unless they can produce the necessary identification when they arrive.
It's hard work on an exhibition booth and you need 105% performance from each member of staff. Incentives can take many forms and do not need to be expensive but are worth their weight in gold. You may decide to give a prize for the most leads, appointments, sales or for the biggest or best lead.
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Alison Graham (author) from UK on October 08, 2018:
You are absolutely right, there are many benefits to be gained from exhibiting at a trade show. However, it is important to choose which exhibition to participate in very carefully in order to avoid spending a lot of money with little return. However, it is often a good idea to 'think outside the box' for example, a laundry company might benefit from exhibiting at a restaurant and food show because Chefs and kitchen staff wear uniforms, restaurants use table cloths and napkins and all these items need to be laundered!
tent777 on October 08, 2018:
What an awesome and useful article!! All focuses are precisely covered. A show is an extraordinary place for different organizations to make associations with potential new clients. It could be anything from a distributor hoping to discover new organizations to pitch the stock to, to a scent organization hoping to tempt individuals from the general population with their new aroma.
Alison Graham (author) from UK on November 08, 2016:
Thank you for your kind comment, Rashid. Glad you found the information about exhibition stands and finding suitable staff, helpful.
Rashid Shaikh on November 08, 2016:
Very helpful article article about exhibition stands and display stands staffing. if you are looking for exhibition stands or display stands in dubai then bme advertising i.e. bmeevent.com is a good option.
Tracy on September 11, 2015:
What a wonderful and informative article!! All points are accurately covered.An exhibition is a great place for various businesses to make connections with potential new customers. It could be anything from a wholesaler looking to find new businesses to sell stock to, to a perfume company looking to entice members of the public with their new fragrance. In every situation the goal will be the same – to catch the eye of potentially interested parties in order to make new connections and sales. http://www.mindspiritdesign.com/ can be a good option to choose your exhibiting needs.