After a career of nearly 40 years as a show manager, I am able to gauge an exhibitor’s likelihood of success simply by listening to the attitudes of their managers and employees on the show floor during move-in.
Exhibitors that have planned ahead for the show and communicated those plans clearly with their employees are more likely to keep a positive attitude. When employees face the inevitable challenges during move-in, if they have a clear plan and solid communication about the process, they are less likely to have their attitude sour when something goes wrong. Event managers should be available at all times to engage when this happens.
Exhibit Managers that make sure that their show staff is well rested and “ready to go” at show opening are also more likely to be successful.
It is still a very common practice for companies to have their show staff working hard during move-in and exhausted once the show opens. Plan for extra help to give others rest before the show and to keep your staff fresh during the day.
Once the show opens, your customers are not only buying your company and your products, but are buying the attitude of your show staff. A warm and friendly approach goes a long way to making a sale.
Show selling is not the same as selling on the road or over the phone. It is important to take the time to “re-train” your show staff to the intricacies of show selling.
I recommend starting with show staff meetings 60 days in advance of each show. Clearly communicate the goals for each event and discuss the tools and approach that will be used to reach those goals. Use role playing to engage your staff in the chosen sales strategy for the event. Reinforce those tactics with subsequent meetings before the show.
Daily show meetings before opening each day is a critical piece to your success. Review the previous day’s show experience and revise tactics to improve the previous days performance. Include good news that will improve everyone’s attitude. While this step may seem obvious, look around the show floor before opening and see who is having pre show daily meetings with their staff. You will be surprised how often this is overlooked.
Event Managers and senior company executives should be coached to compliment and support all show staff. Save negative critiques for the post show meeting. Make sure all the gas is in the tank and your staff has the vehicle floored!
Use your post show meetings to support positive attitudes and success at the show. Critique all performance, but give special emphasis on attitude to keep the staff motivated for future events.
A new focus on a positive attitude with all involved is guaranteed to improve your trade show success.
Jeff Haughton is a 40 year veteran of the trade and consumer show industries. He currently manages 4 RV Shows for Apple Rock and works with many of Apple Rock’s clients on their trade show exhibit programs. Jeff is a past winner of IAEE’s Chairman’s Award and has served on their board of directors.