You have a solid trade show plan and are fully prepped to execute it to the T with zero hiccups.
But wait, what about your trade show booth staff? Are they as prepared as you?
According to a report, 80% of the attendees remember booths solely based on the staff. Your staff is your most effective marketing asset on a trade show floor. They’re abundantly responsible for the experience your booth offers to the visitors.
This makes trade show booth staff training a vital component of every successful trade show plan.
[ALSO READ: Trade Show Planning Guide]
Basics of Exhibition Booth Staff Training
Your trade show objectives should set the premise for recruiting booth staff. Once the goals are finalized, create a list of knowledge, skills, and competencies needed to achieve them.
After creating the list, break it down into various roles and responsibilities. Then, thoroughly vet every potential candidate to ensure they have what it’ll take to perform as per the requirements of your event plan.
Here are some additional tips for assigning roles and responsibilities to your exhibition booth staff-
- While knowledge and skills are important, you should also consider the potential candidates' overall personality before assigning roles.
- Aim for a blend of skill sets that effectively represent your brand.
- Clearly define the responsibility of every team member so that they can start preparing themselves for the event.
- Include booth staff in the exhibition planning and budgeting process so they’re fully aware of the expectations and objectives.
How Many Trade Show Booth Staff Do You Need?
There are two vital considerations when calculating the number of people you'll need manning your booth.
1- Booth Space
The rule of thumb is to have one staffer for every 50 sq. ft. of booth space. So, if you have a 20x20 booth (200 sq. ft), you should have 4 or a maximum of 5 people manning the booth.
2- Interaction Capacity
Let's say it is a 3-day event with 9 exhibiting hours each day. This equals 27 exhibiting hours. If you have 4 booth staffers, the total staff hours will be 27 x 4 = 108 hours.
Multiply the total staff hours with the number of interactions you’re expecting every staff to have per hour. So, if you’re expecting each staff to have 3-4 interactions per hour, the total interaction capacity will be 324-432.
But if you’re expecting your trade show booth to have more than 432 visitors, you’ll need more than 4 staffers.
Your Trade Show Booth Dream Team
Whether You Should Train or Hire Trade Show Booth Staff?
Exhibitors also have the option to hire temporary sales staff. They can either hire temps on their own by interviewing and recruiting the people that meet their expectations or rely on a trade show booth staffing agency.
In most cases, staffing agencies prove to be a more practical choice. Here’s why-
- Eliminates the need for you to search and interview the candidates.
- The agency will manage its payroll, parking, and travel expenses.
- Easy access to staffers well-versed with the working of trade shows.
- Significantly reduces the amount of training you need to provide (Note that you’ll still be required to provide product training to the temps).
You can decide whether you need to hire temps or train your company employees based on these two factors-
1- Your Trade Show Budget
Trade shows are expensive. And it'll cost additional money to hire temporary staff for the event. Again, the costs will significantly vary between cities, experience, duties, and whether you hire temps on your own or use an HR agency.
But with that being said, you might have to spend up to $50/hour per temporary professional staff in cities such as Los Angeles and New York if you go through the staffing agency route. So, for a two-day event, you'll be spending close to $1,000 on each temporary staff.
2- The Opportunity Cost
Taking your company employees for the event, let's say people from your sales team, marketing team, etc., would mean they won't be able to perform their everyday duties at work. This will include the training period and the time they're away from work attending the event.
And if these employees are critical to everyday company operations, it can impact the bottom line. This is known as the opportunity cost. So while the trade show could make up for the lost revenue if you achieve your objectives, it is still worth considering when deciding between in-house training and temporary staff.
Training Your Trade Show Booth Staff
Even a potent trade show marketing strategy and an engaging exhibition booth can fail if you don’t provide adequate training to your booth staff.
Not only this- but poorly trained and undisciplined booth staff will also impact your company's image in the public eye and might lead to severe consequences.
So, how should you create a trade show booth staff training plan? Focus on these critical elements-
Each member of your staff team should be provided adequate training on the products/services you’ll be marketing at the event.
While the presenters and sales staff should know the product/service exceptionally well, even the greeters and crowd gatherers should be well-versed with at least the basics.
Adequate product knowledge is essential to ensure that your staff can confidently and effectively communicate with the prospects and build trust.
Your trade show booth staff must know the correct way to sell your offerings. Before the event, give your staff enough time to rehearse the sales pitch.
Ensure your sales pitch effectively aligns with the overall brand or marketing message.
You should create two sales pitches- a short elevator pitch to attract the prospects and a longer, more comprehensive pitch highlighting the USPs of your product/service/brand.
People Skills Training
Your event staffers should also possess the people skills for understanding, relating to, and communicating with all the different types of attendees who visit your booth.
It is essential for them to project a professional yet warm and friendly demeanor. Greeting visitors with a smile, using words like "Thank You" and "Please" often, and conversing in polite language can help create a positive brand image.
The people skills will also enable them to differentiate between types of event attendees. After all, you'd want your staff to spend more time and resources on attendees with better chances of conversion.
Engagement Strategy Training
To succeed at a trade show, your booth should engage the prospects with your brand and product/service. It should offer something that people could remember even after the event.
Engagement activities such as booth trivia games can help you in this endeavour. Most people love interactive trivia games, making them easy attention-grabbers.
Moreover, when the trivia questions are creatively crafted around your industry, brand, and product/service, they effectively boost awareness too.
Modern exhibition trivia games can also collect leads, allowing your booth staffers to focus on interacting with the maximum number of prospects.
When you're training your booth staff, make them aware of your engagement strategy and the activity your booth will have. Some activities, such as AR/VR demos or games, will also require additional training/staff.
Well-groomed staff is also vital to projecting a positive brand image. During exhibition booth staff training, help the staffers understand the importance of having a clean-cut appearance.
Dirty clothing, wrinkled attire, and untucked shirts are major turn-offs and can make your company look less professional.
While business casual attire is generally a safe bet for most events, you can also go for formal or informal attire, depending on the industry/event. You also have the option to consider customized uniforms for the staff.
Additional Tips to Train Your Trade Show Booth Staff
Here are some tips that can help you train your exhibition booth staff-
- Give specific and detailed feedback to the team members throughout the training period.
- Include them in trade show planning discussions, and don't ignore their ideas.
- Let the booth staff know the critical role they’ll be playing during the event.
- Give special importance to booth etiquette.
- Ensure that every team member fully understands your product/service.
- Create a list of common questions booth visitors can ask and ensure that your staff is well-versed with the answers.
- Practice product demonstrations to avoid any hiccups during the event.
- Go over the event schedule multiple times and ensure every team member is provided enough break time during the event.
- Incentivize the event to keep your staff motivated.
- You can also consider team lunch and other team activities to help the staffers bond with each other.
Trade Show Staff Budgeting
According to our trade show budgeting strategy, you can allocate 15% of your overall budget to staffing expenses. However, it can easily end up costing more.
Here are some tips to avoid going overboard with your staffing budget-
- Make travel arrangements and book accommodations in advance. Most air carriers and hotels offer discounts on group bookings.
- Ensure that your staffers are fully aware of the expense limits.
- If your company doesn’t already have a travel policy, make one that clearly defines per diems for hotels, travel, dining, and entertainment.
- Make arrangements for your staff to travel between their accommodation and event location. Check the event website, as some trade shows offer transportation facilities for the attendees.
Holding End-of-Day Meeting with Trade Show Booth Staff
It is a standard practice among exhibitors to conduct an end-of-day meeting with the staffers to talk about the day. It’ll help you understand what did and did not work as expected. You can then modify your strategy for the next day accordingly.
For instance, the show floor might be louder than expected. So, you might have to increase the mic's volume or change the speaker’s location so that attendees can hear clearly.
Here are some other questions for end-of-day meetings-
- Were there enough staff members to interact with the visitors?
- Were the booth visitors engaged?
- Was the booth activity attracting attendees?
- Was it a successful day in terms of achieving the event objectives?
- Was it an enjoyable experience for the booth staff?
Creating a Lead Follow-Up Plan
Most exhibitors and event managers often fail to work on a lead follow-up plan during their trade show staff training.
For instance, if you’re using an offline lead collection method such as business cards or paper forms, you should designate a team member responsible for bringing the leads back to the headquarter.
Even if you are using an online lead collection method such as booth trivia games, you should select members from your sales team who’ll be responsible for following up with the leads.
The leads can be divided among members based on whether they’re hot, warm, or cold. Each type of lead should have a dedicated follow-up strategy.
Training Your Trade Show Booth Staff for Success
For exhibitors and event managers, booth staff training might look like another task on their to-do list. But never underestimate the importance of having expertly trained staff.
During the event, your booth staff is the face of your company. How they present themselves and interact with the visitors will significantly impact your trade show's success. Moreover, it'll also have a direct impact on your trade show ROI and ROO.
Use this exhibition staff training guide to ensure each team member is well-trained, confident, motivated, and ready for success.
If you’d like to know more about trade show gamification, you can check out our latest work section to see how our custom trivia games are helping exhibitors attract and engage attendees.
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