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Trade Show Booth Etiquette: How To Be A Good Host

Tradeshow Booth HostingIn Minnesota, we are raised to be “nice.”  But how far does that really get you?  For many, nice means passive-aggressive, nice means bite your tongue, or nice means smile and nod.  When you’re staffing a trade show booth you are acting as a host, and sometimes “nice,” in any of its definitions, doesn’t always cut it.

Go Beyond Nice

When you are exhibiting, you must put yourself in the mindset that all the prospects in the hall are your guests.  If you were hosting a party in your home, no matter the occasion, you would go out of your way to accommodate every single guest. You wouldn’t tell them to let themselves in the door, throw their coat over the back of a chair, and help themselves to whatever was in the fridge.  Guests in your trade show booth are no different.  They need to be warmly welcomed and engaged from the moment you see them.

The Pre-Party Planning

Part of being a good host is proper planning to ensure the event will run smoothly.  To have a spectacular trade show, have all your extras prepared.  Did you make all the appropriate phone calls and contacts to ensure your trade show exhibit will arrive on time and be set up properly?  Does your booth staff know when and where to be and what you expect of them?  Do you have an emergency kit with supplies for yourself and your booth?

Whether it’s a big theme to the party or the smallest details, having a plan and a back-up plan for everything will set yourself and your guests at ease.  Sure, you can get by without it but it will add a little zest and make everything more memorable if you do.  Failing to make your plan would be like having 20 people show up for a Super Bowl party and all you have to offer them is a bowl of stale Doritos — the game is still on but it’s just not the same.

In The Booth

Now that you’re at the show and in your booth, it’s your job to make everyone passing by feel welcomed and important.  Easier said than done.  Part of making people feel comfortable is being genuine. After all, you are exhibiting because you want to use your product or service to help people, right? Attendees don’t need a sales pitch from every booth staffer they walk by. Talk to them, get to know them, uncover their needs, or show them what you have to offer. Sales can come after the show but the time to make a good impression and develop trust is now. When the show is over, clearly relay those needs to a great salesperson and let them close the deal.

Heading Home

When all is said and done, any host would be remiss if they did not thank their guests for coming.  In Minnesota, the cycle of “Thank you” “No, thank you!” might go on for several minutes until all parties are equally thanked and made aware of their counterpart’s gratitude.  The same goes for your trade show booth.  Let the attendees know that you appreciate their time and offer a closing statement to commit to follow-up.

They will want to hear more about your company after that star treatment, don’tcha know!

Trade Show Booth Staffing GuidebookThe success of your trade show depends on your booth staff’s performance.  To help you multiply the results you get from your booth staffers, read the Booth Staffing Guidebook.  To request your 48-page book filled with insightful articles and worksheets, click here

About the Author

Bryna Kelly was a Marketing Assistant at Skyline Exhibits, located in St. Paul, Minnesota.

5 responses to “Trade Show Booth Etiquette: How To Be A Good Host

  1. Bryna, i have been to a lot of trade shows and have seen hosts being very unprepared with some stuff like pens, etc.
    This is a good post with great tips.

  2. Bryna;
    Having been on both sides of the booth your post is a wonderful reminder. I would like to add to “keep it real” for all your guests and for the staffers to make eye contact and a solid connection with each guest they get the time with. This is challenging, but it will make or break the effort and cost put in. If you can’t be sincere in your connection, take a break until you can. Talking alllllll day is exhausting but insinceity is just as bad as poor table service in a fine restaurant!

    Thanks again for the tips.

    1. Hi Jodi –
      Thanks for your comment! I completely agree about the sincerity factor. From someone who had worked in customer service for 10 years, I definitely know how taking a little break and coming back fresh and happy can impact your customer’s perception. Great tips to add on!

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