Just as the success of a business depends entirely upon competent, quality individuals, the ultimate success of a trade show exhibit depends completely on proper staffing and training. It is all too easy to overlook this key factor, or put it off until it s too late. In fact, staffing and training of your exhibit should be an integral piece of the overall trade show plan, and should begin months in advance of the show.

Choosing the right people: Unfortunately, not just any employee qualifies to staff the show exhibit. The right people to man your trade show booth should have a clear set of desired skills and character traits. Some of those qualifications include:

  • Dedication to company principles, as well as the goals and objectives of the exhibit
  • Persuasiveness this means a genuine personality with the practice of sound logic
  • Marketing/sales experience because all staff needs to understand the psychology behind marketing and sales, recognize personality types, and use the right language skill
  • Independent your staff must not need close supervision and must be trusted to do and say the right things in the right time
  • Comprehensive knowledge of the products and services of the company
  • Problem solver able to demonstrate that products and services solve a relevant problem, as well as think quickly one their feet .
  • Consistent positive attitude staffing must be tirelessly positive, hour after hour

Selecting the right number of people: Knowing how many people are needed to staff your exhibit is based upon several factors:

  • The actual size of the exhibit
  • The length in both hours and days of the trade show plan for break times, etc.
  • The various roles/responsibilities/tasks that each staff member must perform; for example, you may want to assign each staff member a specific task/role
  • The type of attractions planned for the exhibit
  • The expected traffic flow of the show
Training the staff for the show: Without comprehensive training, your trade show returns will be disappointing at best. Here are some training considerations:
  • Although you should select potential staffing early in your planning and perhaps even develop a training program early-on, the actual hands-on training should begin just weeks ahead of the show in order to hold enthusiasm and keep it fresh
  • A training program should include:
    • What to do if (handling unexpected questions or situations)
    • Product or service knowledge
    • The target goals of the exhibit
    • Presentation practice
    • Rehearsals and role-playing plenty of practice
    • Lead generation, referrals, and follow-up aim for long-term clients/customers
    • Identification of personality types and acting accordingly
    • Professional appearance and speaking
    • Trial run or mock exhibit actual hands-on methods

Management of the booth and staff: It is a great idea to assign one qualified person to oversee the entire exhibit and staffing. That booth manager will:

  • Manage the entire booth throughout the show from set-up through take-down
  • Plan a working schedule for proper staffing at all times
  • Manage break times and HR issues
  • Establish and enforce the dress code
  • Prepare: badges, literature, pamphlets, business cards, brochures, giveaways, and prize raffle or drawing
  • Perform quality control
  • Keep an eye on safety/risk management
  • Provide additional on-the-spot training
  • Handle unusual situations and questions
  • Be responsible for smooth flow limiting time-wasters and maximizing service

In summary, it is obvious that the staffing and training of your trade show exhibit is paramount to a successful show and the best ROI. It is critical that these matters are covered in the planning, preparation, and execution of your show booth. Your display is a live and interactive marketing machine; and this machine demands the right people trained, hand-picked, and dedicated to operate it efficiently.