Trade Show TalesBlog

Trade Show Staffing: Assembling the Right Team

June 30th, 2023 COMMENTS
Trade Show Staffing

Trade show booth staffing should be easy. Tell the sales team to go to the show. Then invite someone from marketing or perhaps a go-getter from customer service. Ignore accounting, engineering, operations, and senior management. Easy peasy. And yet…

Consider this. Trade shows are expensive, chaotic, overwhelming, and confusing. They’re also an excellent venue for introducing products and services, meeting new clients, and generating business. Getting it right requires setting goals, creating a strategy, completing a  list of tasks, and bringing the right team. The team matters. 

Unfortunately, most trade show booth staffers don’t have a clue why they’re spending 5-6 hours a day for three days in their company’s exhibition booth. Fortunately, it isn’t hard to create an All-Star Booth Staff. It simply takes planning, communication, and discipline. 

Key Considerations for Trade Show Staffing 

Trade shows are a battlefield with winners and losers. On that battlefield, strategy and implementation outperforms brute strength every time. What are the goals? Is everyone clear about them? At a minimum, there should be a strategy and planning “booth camp” meeting before the show. Then, there should be alignment meetings every day before the show opens. Some companies even have meetings after the show hall closes to review leads, answer questions, and prepare for the next day.

When it comes to your trade show staff, you get what you tolerate. When you expect more, your team will rise to the challenge. Set clear expectations, communicate your goals, plan your strategy, and manage the environment, the days, and your post-show communication. It’s not easy, but your team (and your boss) will sing your praises when it’s “Go Time!”

8 Key Responsibilities for Any Trade Show Booth Staff 

  • Generate Leads
  • Collect Data
  • Build Relationships
  • Promote Your Brand
  • Increase Sales
  • Improve Customer Service
  • Create a Positive Reputation
  • Learn about Customers, Competitors, and the Industry 

Trade Show Booth Staffing Rules 

Staffing is only as complicated as you make it. Let your trade show objectives guide you when making decisions on who to bring and how to achieve those objectives.

Rule #1: Knowledge 

Not every booth staffer needs to know everything. Collectively, however,  the team needs to know everything and know who’s the expert about every subject. The expert should be able to answer questions about that topic, as well as explain the features and benefits of your products or services.

Rule #2: Goals

Set clear goals for your booth staff. What do you hope to achieve by participating in the trade show? Then provide your staff with training on your products or services. This should include a thorough overview of your offerings, as well as any recent updates or changes.

Rule #3: It’s Not Over Until It’s Over

Provide your staff with feedback throughout the training process. This will help them to identify areas where they need improvement and make sure that they are on track to achieve their goals. Pre- and post-show staff meetings keep the team focused on the goals and address any concerns. 

Rule #4: Explore 

It’s not just about what’s happening in the booth. Give them time to explore the show floor, check out competitors, discover new suppliers, and meet with attendees at social events. 

Rule #5: Have Fun! 

Attending a trade show should be fun, and trade show booth staff training should be a positive experience for everyone involved. Make sure to create a relaxed atmosphere where your staff can learn and grow.

trade show booth staffing

What to Look for in Trade Show Staff 

Who should be there? That’s easy. Bring employees who know the products or services, who have charismatic people skills, who are personally invested in results, and who participate in pre-show planning or post-show implementation. Two out of four doesn’t cut it. A trade show isn’t a vacation. It’s a strategic investment. Your sales team may check all those boxes, but don’t be afraid to look for superstars in other departments who want to be at the show, understand the products and services, and will WOW! attendees. 

In any pack, there are always the stragglers, the injured, and the just plain stupid. You can ignore them and allow them to be food for your competitors, or you can deal with the problem. The staffer who arrives late sweating tequila and lime, reeking of three cups of espresso, better have a good reason, like entertaining your key client until 4 am. Same with Susie Smartphone or Standing-on-the-Sidelines Sam. This isn’t a soccer tournament for 8-year-olds where everyone gets participation ribbons. It’s a competition where sales, money, and jobs are on the line. Everyone has to pull their share. At tough love companies, the Susies and the Sams get sent home via Greyhound with loose change for vending machine sandwiches.

Trade Show Event Staffing: How to Prep Your Team for Success 

What they know is important. What they do with that knowledge is critical. You want the information dream team in your booth. Whatever the question, there’s someone there who has an answer, can get an answer, and lives to share that information. 

Just knowing stuff isn’t enough. Each staffer must capture every sweet, savory nugget of information the attendee shares. Everyone thinks they’ll remember that game-changing conversation from Day 1. By Day 3, they couldn’t tell you their own spouse’s middle name even if you gave them the first three letters.

Trade shows are exhausting physically and mentally. There is zero chance you’ll remember the details even if you have an eidetic memory. Honestly, the lead retrieval system doesn’t matter. What matters is having a system your group understands and follows. You can’t be a namby-pamby about this. There should be consequences for not adhering to the information capture process.

Trade Show Staffing Strategy & Consulting with Classic Exhibits! 

Booth staff training is an important competitive advantage. Yet, most companies ignore it or simply go through the motions. It’s not automatic. The same energy that went into designing the exhibit, creating the graphics, completing the forms, and arranging the travel and lodging should go into training. It doesn’t happen on its own and well-prepared exhibitors will always own the show floor over their lazy competitors. 

Classic Exhibits has been designing and building solutions since 1993. We’ve been honored as an Exhibitor Magazine Find-It Top 40 Exhibit Producers and an Event Marketer Fab 50 Exhibit Builders multiple times. Along with numerous Portable Modular Awards. 
With over 200 Distributor Partners throughout North America, there’s a Classic representative close by to assist with any project. Contact us today whether you need an inline rental display, a double-deck island exhibit, or a contemporary kiosk rental. At Classic, we’re not just different. We’re better.


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