Trade Show TalesBlog

Posts Tagged ‘Trade show’

Submit Your EXHIBITOR “Plan B” Story for Publication

November 8th, 2017 COMMENTS


Would you like to see your name in print? EXHIBITOR Magazine is currently looking for Plan B stories.

Plan B is a humorous column about trade show disasters (e.g. missing graphics, last-minute booth alterations, exhibit fires, missing staffers, AWOL tractor-trailers, flooding, and more). More importantly, it’s about how you or your client solved or at least coped with them.

If you’ve suffered a snafu (or a straight-up disaster) and lived to tell the tale, email EXHIBITOR’s senior writer, Linda Armstrong ( to share your story.

If the tale fits the column parameters, she’ll take your short but detailed synopsis, massage it into column format, and send it your way for a final fact check. When it publishes, you’ll receive the free byline — and industry kudos for your disaster-aversion techniques.

Customer Service Just Got Easier at Your Next Trade Show

November 1st, 2016 1 COMMENT

This photo was shot with a Canon EOS 5D Mark III and L-series lens.

What’s the Difference Between a Shopping Mall and a Trade Show?

Most retailers devote significant time and money to customer service training for their employees. The same can’t be said for exhibitors and their booth staff. They assume their team will be professional.

Recently, I was invited to conduct a Booth Etiquette and Sales Training seminar for a medical services company. It would have been easy to pull together a PowerPoint. Instead, I asked the attendees if they had ever worked in any job where they were expected to approach, assist, and advise someone on a purchase. Of the 52 attendees, all but four raised their hand. I then asked them to think about the “rules” they learned.


Here’s What They Told Me 

  1. Acknowledge every customer who enters your department, even if you are busy.
  2. Smile.
  3. Don’t bad-mouth your competition.
  4. If you have time to lean, you have time to clean.
  5. Arrive on time. Don’t leave early. Your customers expect the store to be open at the scheduled time and remain open until they have finished shopping.
  6. Listen. Follow the 80/20 rule of sales by listening at least 80 percent of the time.
  7. Ask open-ended questions.
  8. Say “Thank you,” “Please,” and “You’re Welcome.”
  9. Dress appropriately for the job, including basic hygiene. At a minimum, polish your shoes, use an iron, brush your teeth, and comb your hair.
  10. The “Hard Sell” rarely works. The “Consultative Approach” rarely fails.
  11. Don’t chew gum on the sales floor.
  12. Don’t eat on the sales floor.
  13. Don’t drink any beverages on the sales floor.
  14. Wear comfortable shoes.
  15. You can’t be an expert about everything. Ask a colleague to ask who may know more about a product or service.
  16. Don’t make assumptions based on a customer’s appearance.
  17. Start conversations . . .  not a sales pitch.
  18. The customer is always right (or mostly right).
  19. Things get messy, but they can’t stay that way.
  20. You’re not a carnival barker. You are a sales professional.
  21. If you make a commitment to find something, to add them to the mailing list, or to call them when an item goes on sale, honor that commitment.

These “Rules” Should Seem Very Familiar

After all, working on the show floor is very similar to working in a shoe store, electronics store, or a restaurant. You are there to assist customers. Sometimes your customers know exactly what they want. Other times, they expect you to guide them to most appropriate solution after determining their needs. Sometimes it’s slow. Other times it’s busy, but either way you are onstage and expected to perform flawlessly and to be a professional.

And yet, we often see behavior in a trade show booth that would be unacceptable in any retail situation:

  • Eating and drinking on the show floor
  • Drifting into the booth 45 minutes after the show starts after partying until 4 am and reeking of alcohol
  • Congregating in packs, ignoring customers, bad mouthing competitors, and acting like working the show floor is a punishment
  • Monopolizing conversations with customers, disregarding basic sales skills, and launching into a laundry list of features and benefits
  • Using literature and the lead retrieval machine as a substitute for asking open-ended questions
  • Failing to acknowledge customers with a smile or a “be there in a minute”
  • Pre-judging a customer based on appearance or after glancing at the color of their badge
  • Not following up on a lead or a promise to a potential customer

Nearly Everyone Knows How to be Successful on the Trade Show Floor

You learned the basics when you worked at Macy’s or LensCrafters or AutoZone or Olive Garden. At a minimum, you learned to be nice, to be polite, and to treat each customer with respect. At a maximum, you learned how to sell and the importance of customer service. The products and services you now represent may be more complicated and the selling price higher, but the skills are basically the same.

So next time you enter your booth, whether you have a table top at the local Chamber of Commerce show or a 30′ x 30′ custom exhibit at your industry’s premier event, remember what you learned working nights and weekends at the mall. And don’t forget to shine your shoes and iron your shirt or blouse. Appearance counts!

Please share your comments!

–Mel White

Custom Inline Exhibit with LED RGB Lights (Very Cool!)

February 20th, 2016 COMMENTS
Kevin Carty, VP Classic Exhibits

Kevin Carty, VP Classic Exhibits

Do you want to see something AMAZING?

As we head into EXHIBITOR, I wanted to share a video of a recent custom build. It’s (2) 10 x 10’s that convert into a 10 x 20.

Before you say, “Big deal Kevin… an inline exhibit… we have seen them all.” I challenge that idea. NO YOU HAVE NOT! This particular build is special. For starters, the end-user was the driver behind the design elements required for this booth. They are a high-tech, high-end fiber optics company with an amazing product. They wanted a booth that exuded that same high-tech, high-end look and feel that customers expect from their brand.

I won’t go into great text detail since the video covers it, but I will say this. KUDOS to our manufacturing, project management, and detailing teams for their flawless execution on this project. And thanks to the distributor for bringing us this wonderful project.

Enjoy the video and your week ahead.

See you all in Vegas in just a few short days. Please come by our booth to see Gravitee. In my 21 years of attending EXHIBITOR, I’ve never been more excited to show you a new product line.



Three Clever Trade Show Infographics

September 29th, 2015 1 COMMENT


I’m a sucker for a clever, creative, well-designed Infographic. It reminds me of my childhood browsing through over-sized books about history, science, geography, or sports where the graphics engage and educate.

I don’t have the patience or the talent to create infographics so when I find one that hits a bulls-eye about trade show marketing, I feel compelled to share. This week, I hit the jackpot and discovered three, all created by Megan Lemmons at Mostre Design/Advent Exhibits. My thanks to Megan for sharing with the Classic Exhibits Network. Enjoy!

Colour Color Colore

Colour Color Colore



Why You Should Have a Coffee Bar at Your Next Trade Show

Why You Should Have a Coffee Bar at your Next Trade Show



Five Easy Ways to Be the Star of Your Next Trade Show

5 Ways To Be the Star of your Next Trade Show 3

–Mel White


Based in Portland, Oregon, Classic Exhibits Inc. designs and manufacturers portable, modular, and custom-hybrid exhibit solutions. Classic Exhibits products are represented by an extensive distributor network in North America and in select International markets. For more information, contact us at 866-652-2100 or

10 Steps to Trade Show Success (Infographic)

August 20th, 2015 COMMENTS

Some infographics can be confusing… But not this one! An outstanding infographic from Bags of Ideas, a promotional products company in the UK. This is one worth printing or forwarding to your tradeshow clients. Bags of Ideas — A pat on the back for this clever and practical message. Well done!

10 Steps to Trade Show Success Infographic
Bags of Ideas – The Promotional Bag Specialists

–Mel White


Based in Portland, Oregon, Classic Exhibits Inc. designs and manufacturers portable, modular, and custom-hybrid exhibit solutions. Classic Exhibits products are represented by an extensive distributor network in North America and in select International markets. For more information, contact us at 866-652-2100 or