Article written by Sofia Troutman

Staffing for Trade Shows and Events has changed. Before “Big Data” and the proliferation of electronic marketing it was sales people who reigned supreme at the show. Their personality and ability to connect with people were key tools for getting more people into the booth. Crowd gatherers were big too as it was all about getting people who you did not know to come into the booth and learn all about your company. While salespeople can still be great staffers and people skills are always great, the landscape of trade shows has changed and with that the type of skills needed to staff the booth.


  • Why are you there? Are you looking to gain new clients or nurture existing ones? Are you planning to educate people on an existing product or launch a new one? What are your goals for the show and how do they fit into your overall marketing and company goal? It is also helpful to give staffers specific goals they have control over. An example may be to ensure they find out from the client if they are aware of the new product, if they think it will meet the need, and what steps the company should take to get that client’s business. It may also be helpful to them to know approximately how many leads they are expected to take throughout the show and each day of the show.
  • It’s not just about leads, it’s about relationships. There are other ways your company can get someone’s name or email address. However, this is the time to start a real relationship with a qualified prospect by listening and making them feel welcome.
  • Technology should help not hinder. If the client is there and wants you to talk or listen, don’t force a video or demo on them just because you think it is cool.
  • Less about you and more about them. This includes pitching your products. Find out about their needs, their interests, and their experience with your company or their current vendor.
  • Fully control the customer experience. From the trash in the booth to the time you take to ask how their day is going. The trade show is a unique opportunity to truly control their whole environment. Take advantage of it. They need to create an experience that goes beyond the booth.
  • How to capture information. Capturing information from clients via quotes, photos or videos is part of the value of the show. This information can later be re-purposed as marketing content that will extend the value of the event not only from a marketing standpoint but also potentially to benefit your product/service improvement and customer service initiatives.
  • Any products or services that you are featuring at the show. If they need training they should get it well before the show. As products become more complex, hands-on time is even more valuable. Staff will be expected to know more than just the basics.
  • How to demo. Staffers should be comfortable doing a live demo of your products or service (as relevant) or, at the very least, access a video of one. If they can’t do this well the effectiveness of your live event will suffer and you will miss opportunities to build credibility with new and existing clients.


Good listeners. Attendees are not looking for someone to spew out everything already on your website or marketing materials. They can get that by doing a Google search. They need someone to truly listen to their questions, needs, and tailor the message to them. In fact, the attendee may have already searched your company, and will come to your booth staffers with more knowledgeable questions. The buyer is a lot more informed than they once were, prepare for questions deeper than the surface of your company or products.

Tech Savvy. No, they don’t need to know how to code, but… between lead gathering apps, monitors and possibly digital signage, there are plenty of opportunities for both leveraging technologies for the benefit of attendees and for tech glitches. You need someone who will not be afraid to troubleshoot as needed, will be comfortable learning and using apps as needed and can easily use technology to ensure the exhibit is functioning and exhibitors get an optimum experience. Something as simple as googling an answer or pulling up a key video on YouTube should be a natural thing for your staffers. Their time and your time with them are precious.

Customer Centric. If they are not the type of person who will go the extra mile to help a client they are not the right person to staff the booth – emotional intelligence is key. You get seconds or minutes to make a good impression in person with a current or potential client. Many other companies are there competing for that time. Your staffers need to be eager to make the most of every client experience. One way to bring this home is to talk about the potential lifetime value of each prospective client that walks into your booth.

Change has always been inevitable at any live event and trade shows are no exception. This is not new, but it has become even more prevalent and expected. Technology is a big help, but will increase the uncertainty of whether or not things will work as planned. Your staff need to be able to adjust course as needed and do it with a smile.

About the Author:

Sofia is the Customer Engagement and Industry Relations Manager for Skyline Exhibits. An experienced marketing professional with branding, innovation and product commercialization expertise, she heads up Skyline’s marketing efforts in customer engagement, exhibitor education, industry relations and market research.

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