Your Guide to Booth Staff Etiquette and Training
Research shows that trade show attendees weigh their interaction with staff over every other factor at the booth. One of the significant reasons attendees travels so far to attend shows is to meet your key team members — and compare your team with your competition. In short, attendees want to meet the people behind your company.
Why then is trade show booth staff training often the smallest spending segment in marketing budgets? Unfortunately for most trade show exhibitors, staff training tends to be overlooked in favour of other seemingly more pressing issues like booth planning, trade show exhibit design, construction, and logistics.
The Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) reported that, on average, booth staff training was as little as 1% of the total trade show budget in 2012. That figure was still only 2% in 2017!
This guide looks at why you will want to invest in staff training and areas to apply that investment. A well-trained staff will be one of the most significant factors in your booth’s success (or failure).
Ten Types of Trade Show Booth Staff Etiquette to Ensure Success
Any investment you make in your staff should be to leverage these types of trade show booth etiquette. It could be investing the time it takes to research the people in your organization who have the right personality.
Or it could be investing in the training it takes to teach specific behaviors and protocols.
1. Be outgoing and warm. Approach people openly and with curiosity, always looking for ways to connect.
2. Be well-groomed, rested, and follow company dress code.
3. Be aware of body language during conversations and during slow times.
4. Be well-versed with company products, services, target audience profiles, and show giveaways.
5. Leave the booth if you do any of the following: eat, take a phone call, check email, record prospect information, sit, or take a break.
6. Project professionalism the entire show. This includes proudly representing your company, never giving out confidential information or bad-mouthing the competition.
7. Wear badges high on the body like chest or right shoulder. When going in for a handshake, your badge and thus your name is right in eyesight. This eliminates the awkward ‘midsection stare.’
8. Greet visitors individually, professionally, and with a smile.
9. Understand staff roles, sales script, company objectives, and how to capture leads.
10. Always have a few ice-breaker introductions ready to strike up a conversation comfortably.
Booth Staff Training
Whether your company is planning for a 10′ by 10′ booth or a 40′ by 50′ exhibit space, training the staff to man the booth itself is crucial. Knowledge is power, and communication is key. Why not have a pre-show meeting focused around these concepts? The meeting can be housed just about anywhere; company headquarters, the hotel everyone is staying at, or make it into a fun offsite event.
The meeting should be led or at least kicked off by someone in upper management or the most senior member of the staff attending the show. At this meeting, several things should be discussed, including:
Code of conduct during the event
Corporate objectives, goals, strategy, and procedures
Key messages including sales scripts
Management’s commitment to supporting the program
Appreciation for the upcoming efforts and long hours
Introduction of personnel with specific tasks and roles
Show details, attendee profiles, and anticipated number of guests
Review names of VIP customers or prospects with protocol to alert staff
Review when (and when not) to give out show giveaways
Review show dates and hours as well as staff schedules
This pre-show meeting is the perfect opportunity to make it clear what staff expectations are. It is not uncommon for a company to draft up a written document for staffers to sign off on.
Trade Show Booth Staffing Strategy
Your team’s profile
Trade shows can be a grind. Set the tone early that you are a team that will work together to achieve the desired outcome. Develop the concept that everyone is an actor when it is show time. You must know your lines and work together to engage your audience.
You might find that you have all the right people in your organization. If you don’t, you can supplement with engagement and enrollment professionals. These professionals are high energy people that can operate in a real transactional way for your company. Your job is to make sure they know your goals and the offer.
Your team’s size
An industry rule of thumb is that you need 50 sq ft for each staffer. For example, if you have a 10×10 booth (which is 100 sq ft), that is a max of 2 maybe 3 staffers to have enough space for traffic.
Use this rule of thumb to quickly calculate how many staffers you will need for the show based on your booth size.
Your team’s interaction capacity
This is one of the most important numbers to calculate in your entire trade show program. It is especially helpful if you know how many guests you are likely to have.
Start with your total exhibiting hours for the show — example: Three 8 hour days = 24 exhibiting hours.
Multiply this number by your booth staff on duty to derive total staff hours: 24 x 3 = 72 total staff hours.
Next, multiply total staff hours by the target number of interactions per hour per staff.
The target number of interactions per hour per staffer is between three and five, with five being conservative, four moderate, and five being aggressive.
Using the range of 3-5, your exhibit interaction capacity is 216-360.
If you are expecting much more than 360 people to come to your booth and interact, you should consider more than 3 staffers at your booth.
Your Team’s Knowledge of Exhibit layout
It is paramount that your staff is fully acquainted with the exhibit layout and the optimal attendee journey. Booth staff should know the tools and demos they will be using. Comfort in these areas enables them to focus on connecting with the attendees. It is also important to have reviewed the location of the space regarding all other aspects of the trade show, especially competitors. You can start by doing a walk-through of the space, including an overview of the demo areas, meeting rooms, and storage areas. It is also equally important to demonstrate and model a successful customer “hand-off” from one place to other. Your staff should also have enough time to practice with the lead retrieval system. They should be well-versed in evaluating a lead, answering common questions, and providing appropriate answers. Brands should work through any oddities to ensure staff is comfortable with the entire experience.
We thought we would end this guide with some more staggering statistics. According to Exhibitor Magazine:
80% of what attendees remember most about a trade show booth is their interaction with company reps.
85% of an exhibitor’s success hinges on the performance of its booth staff.
Trained staffers can convert on qualified leads at a 2-1 rate compared to untrained staffers.
Only 26% of exhibitors conduct staff training for all or most of their events.
While at the show, your staff members are your company’s ambassadors. Correctly prepping them is key to a successful tradeshow and essential to providing show attendees with a memorable experience while at your exhibit. With trade show attendees weighing booth staff interaction over any other factor at your booth, it is worth investing in training your booth staff. Even simple training sessions can put your company a step ahead of most competitors.
Here in this guide, we listed ten important types of booth staff etiquette and how to leverage a pre-show meeting to map out training. We also discussed strategies on ideal staff team profiles, size, and interaction capacity.
Now we’d like to hear from you. Are there any essential types of etiquette we missed? How has the level of staff training positively (or negatively) affected trade shows in your history?