Types of Trade Show Attendees at Trade Show

Types of Trade Show Attendees at Trade Show

The prospect of attending a trade show seems both exciting and nerve-wracking at the same time. Making contact with a number of interested customers will catapult your sales to new levels. It doesn’t matter whether you’re running a large or small business, trade shows are guaranteed to be lucrative, provided that you make the right moves.

The trade show game is like chess, each and every step that you take counts. Many exhibitors make the mistake of solely concentrating on the visual aspects of their booths and wind up at the show with an ineffective sales plan.

Ignoring the human element of your trade show will only spell disaster. As we’re sure you already know, there are various types of trade shows. Similarly, there are a variety of trade show attendees, each with their own unique personality.

Given this, it’s safe to assume that different attendees all think differently. In fact, each trade show visitor will have a different set of goals and expectations. That’s why a “one size fits all” approach to your booth would simply not work. Remember, you’re dealing with a plethora of personalities and appealing to all of them is bound to be an uphill task.

That being said, if you’re aware of the various types of trade show visitors, you can significantly enhance your chances of success. Here’s a look at the various types of attendees you’re likely to meet at any given trade show and how you should interact with them:


The Compulsive Shopper


We all are aware of people who shop till they drop. As a matter of fact, many individuals consider buying things like their favorite pastime and are not worried about maxing out their credit cards. While participating in any trade show, you can expect compulsive shoppers to visit your booth at some point.

That being said, don’t expect such personalities to purchase almost anything. Like every other visitor, they will have their own expectations and might seek something really specific.

Make sure that your booth staff is well-trained to handle such potential clients. Impressing these clients could ensure the present and future success of your brand. That’s because compulsive shoppers are the cream of the crop. Consider this, if they are looking for something specific that you don’t sell, you can still convince them to buy your offerings.

In order to do this, you first need to entice them with an attractive booth design to tempt them into checking out your offerings.


Influencers Start with Social MediaThe Social Butterfly


A social butterfly is an individual who is friendly with almost everyone, moving from person to person like a butterfly flitting from flower to flower. Such visitors normally attend trade shows to check out different offerings. You would most likely find them enthusiastically distributing business cards and chilling at post-show dinner parties and photo-shoots.

If you want to make a positive impression, you can do so by handing them your well-designed business cards. Strike up conversations with these individuals and pay close attention to what they’re saying. When you get in touch with them for a follow-up conversation, bring up some of the things that you discussed earlier they will be pleased that you remembered speaking with them and will be happy to engage with you further.


The Freeloader


We all have either read or heard the popular saying, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” That’s quite true when it comes to tire kickers. They might be seen showing a genuine interest in your brand, but actually, they’re there just for the promotional giveaways and other freebies. Such personalities often attend trade shows to acquire as many goodies as possible without having to spend any money from their pockets.

In essence, they’re diametrically opposite to compulsive shoppers. Also, such individuals are less likely to commit to a single brand and often like to try out new things. So, the concept of brand loyalty doesn’t seem attractive to them. Don’t expect much from freeloaders and try to spot them as quickly as you can. Doing so will help you direct your resources towards genuine, interested clients.


The Surveyor


Another category of trade show visitors who are there just for the experience. Like a surveyor, you can find them exploring every nook and cranny of the trade show floor. They like to follow the gossip grapevine and make sure that they don’t miss a single beat.

Surveyors are impressed by new and unique things, so ensure that your trade show booth is enigmatic and has something special to offer. Such individuals are difficult to impress and it would take directed efforts from your end to truly amaze or wow them. Unlike tire kickers, however, they are impressed by the innovation and are willing to spend on the right product.


The Inquisitor


Also known as interrogators and data collectors, such individuals can be easily spotted at any trade show. We all know that one customer who likes asking questions unrelentingly. Such personalities can be seen jotting down information in their notebooks or tablets.

Once they obtain all the brand info, they’re most likely to disappear quicker than the Flash. Inquisitors are less likely to buy your products and are simply looking to gather as much information as possible. Be polite, but don’t expect much from them.


The Spy


All exhibiting brands at trade shows like spying on each other. After all, everyone wants to know what their competitors are doing. An employee from your rival business may walk up to your stall and inquire about your business.

Many would try to gauge your business secrets by asking intelligent questions. Always be on your toes and avoid spilling the beans. Although there is no harm in establishing meaningful connections, don’t get overfriendly. Try to ascertain their intentions by reading between the lines. Also, train your booth staff on how to spot a spy.




One of the best kinds of customers, VIPs are rich clients who are willing to spend a lot of money. The only downside is, it’s hard to spot one as they easily blend in with the crowd. They don’t wear any special ID that helps differentiate them from the rest of the throng. That being said, one of the biggest mistakes that exhibitors can make is undermining their purchasing power.

According to experts, such clients spend only an average of 15 seconds at a booth. So, it’s important that you quickly greet them and manage to hold their attention for an extended time frame. Going out of the way by doing something nice and showing immense respect should do the trick.


The Window Shopper


Ah, we all know individuals who like to check things out. It’s quite easy to spot them as they often have a common response like “Just looking.” Unlike freeloaders, most window shoppers are straightforward about their intentions and will not try to show any fake interest in your offerings.

However, not all of them are just casually strolling through the arena and a few can be converted into qualified leads. So, make sure you provide each and every one of them with a positive experience.


consultThe Consultant


Yes, you can expect many consultants at any trade show. They’re generally looking for brands to recommend to their clients. So, by impressing just a single consultant, you can rope in many customers. If your offerings match their needs, you can expect bulk orders. Consultants play a major role in influencing the buying decisions of many people, so their influence simply cannot be overlooked.

Having said that, spotting a consultant may not always be easy. Your staff should be able to interact with every individual walking into your booth and leave them with a positive impression of your brand. You never know when a consultant may drop by.


JudgeThe Judge


No, we don’t mean magistrates. A judge is a no-nonsense person who will explore the trade show floor and listen to what exhibitors have to say. They are good listeners and will allow you to explain why your brand is unique and superior. After gathering all the relevant information, they will weigh the pros and cons and subsequently arrive at conclusions.

If your sales staff are akin to good lawyers, you might succeed in expanding your clientele. Also, such clients can be found across different types of trade shows.

Now that you’re aware of the different kinds of trade show clients, use this information to your advantage and formulate your sales plan accordingly. It’s vital that you prioritize certain customers over others – for obvious reasons. Make sure that your booth staff is well-trained to handle different personalities.