Whether your company is planning a table for one or a ten-person exhibit show, making sure that the staff who will be representing your company are trained and well versed in booth etiquette, is vital. Regrettably for most trade show exhibitors, staff training tends to be overlooked and is deprioritised in favour of booth planning and design. While of course, the presentation of the booth is critical for luring in customers and potential prospects, your staff’s presence and charm while manning the booth, can make or break that prospective business opportunity – with some red flags and pet hates ending the chance before it has even begun.


  1. Have your sales pitches and product offerings ready, and make sure everybody in the exhibition team knows them.

Everyone must be singing from the same script. You might have ten people at the exhibition booth, but if your key staff are busy talking to someone else, how well can the rest of your team deal with the most common queries or slightly more complex problems?

That potential customer might say they will stop by again to talk to your CTO, CEO or VP of Business Development, but they might not, and the opportunity could be lost. Showing that your whole team are fully briefed and can keep the customer engaged until you at least have a reasonable chance of being available to be introduced shows total professionalism in your ability to attract new customers and teamwork.


  1. Don’t eat or drink at the Exhibition Booth.

Not only will that potential customer think twice about stopping to talk to you, but if they do approach, they may struggle to find anyone to talk to at all, because all your booth staff are eating at the same time. Amazingly, this happens.

For some conference and exhibition formats key delegates and your customers take to the exhibition during the lunch breaks, the rest of the time they may be in the conference sessions. This is when the show is at its busiest. It may be more sensible to take your lunch break a good half hour before or after the advertised break. However, make sure you take your lunch away from your exhibition booth and double check that there are always staff available to deal with customers.

If you have a large exhibition, you may have a hospitality area, but be wary of excessive food and drink debris piling up.


  1. Know and stick to the event dress code.

This will vary, e.g. Ties/No ties. Make sure this is consistent for the whole team.


  1. Make sure boxes are well hidden.

Having scrappy boxes lying around can ruin the appearance of your display and give the impression you are unprepared.


  1. Know the event schedule and stick by it.

Be ready for customers as soon as the doors open for business. Also, be prepared for the shows end time, and don’t start breaking down before the official end of the exhibition. Many customers do leave visiting exhibitors till late in the event, due to conferences sessions or pre-arranged meetings. You don’t want to be gone when they stop by. Also, its unfair to other exhibitors as it sends a signal to some customers that the show is ending when it hasn’t for them.


  1. Keep discussions positive.

Be aware that customers might not only be walking by your exhibition stand but standing near you on the way to the venue, or on the opposite table when you are at lunch. Don’t get engaged in sensitive political discussions or office politics where customers could be nearby. You could give the wrong impression about your company culture, and it could look unprofessional.


  1. Standing not sitting.

A three-day event can be hard on the feet, and of course, you will need to take a break sometimes, but most of the time you should be on your feet near the front of the booth ready to engage. Even standing in the aisle in front of your booth works really well, as it shows very clearly you are there to talk to customers. For your seating, consider high chairs closer to standing eye level.


  1. Listening not talking.

The 80% listening and 20% talking rule applies at exhibitions too.


  1. Positive Body Language.

You will be on display and talking to potentially hundreds of new customers so check what you are doing. No hands in pockets, arms folded or turning your back to the customer, and always lead with positive open body language. Also, most importantly, Smile!


  1. Don’t Treat it as ‘Work’ (per se)

Try to stay tuned into your surroundings, be present, and focus on the engaging people at the booth. It can be very easy to start thinking about all the emails you need to reply to, or paperwork and day-to-day tasks you’ve left behind in the office (or even hotel, depending on how far you have travelled).

When your mind is elsewhere, it is impossible to give it your best. It also looks unprofessional half-working at the booth, and you seem unapproachable to potential customers. So entirely disconnect, set an OOO (out of office) automated email and message reply. If you must take care of business, move well away from the booth (ideally out of sight in the business centre or lobby) and make sure someone is there to cover for you.


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