Why You Need To Staff Your Tradeshow Booth Right

A report released last week asked tradeshow attendees what they expect from exhibit-booth staff. The results may cause exhibitors to rethink who they have working their booths.

A big part of many association meetings is the tradeshow. Networking takes place, contacts are made, and business gets done. One number that many exhibitors and association staff look at to see how successful a show was is the buyer-seller ratio. Of course, the more buyers on the floor the happier exhibitors will be—and happy exhibitors often translates into more money for associations by way of future tradeshow booth sales, sponsorships, and so forth.

Having staff with the right job functions, levels of experience, and demeanor is key to positioning an exhibiting organization for success.

However, a new report released last week by the Center for Exhibition Industry Research, Exhibition Staff Practice Summaries, takes a look at the exhibit hall from the attendee perspective, asking them what they expect from exhibit-booth staff. “Having staff with the right job functions, levels of experience, and demeanor is key to positioning an exhibiting organization for success,” said CEIR Research Director Nancy Drapeau in a press release.

Not surprisingly, attendees want to meet with exhibitors who are knowledgeable about their products and services and who are accommodating and willing to address their specific needs. Attendees rated these the top-five exhibit-staff attributes:

  1. Knowledge about the product or solution
  2. Willingness to provide information
  3. Credible/believable
  4. Knowledgeable about costs
  5. Willingness to solve the attendee’s problem

What I found more interesting though was what the report revealed about the type of knowledge and background attendees would like onsite exhibit staff to have. Fifty-six percent of attendees want to speak with staff who work in sales/marketing, 51% want to talk to someone with a scientific/technical background, and 50% would like someone in a research/development role. And while there is alignment in exhibitors having sales and marketing staff onsite (about 57% of total exhibitor representation), scientific/technical and research/development staff are highly underrepresented. In fact, according to the study, each category accounts for only 3% of exhibitor representation.

Commentary suggests a few reasons why attendees want booth staff to have technical or R&D knowledge: They feel they can better solve their problems or drive product enhancements or changes. The report’s authors claim that the “misalignment suggests that exhibitors may be missing an opportunity to capture market feedback that can lead to product enhancements or new offerings as well as the chance to deepen the customer relationship by connecting attendees with exhibiting staff who can drive changes.”

I wonder how these attendee expectations could affect association tradeshows in the future. For all the exhibitor readers out there, what staff do you currently bring onsite? Would you consider bringing more technical staffers? And from the association side, I’d welcome some examples of organizations that take into consideration (or ask) who their exhibitors are bringing with them.

(photo by wbaiv/Flickr)

Samantha Whitehorne

By Samantha Whitehorne

Samantha Whitehorne is editor-in-chief of Associations Now. MORE

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