How to staff your trade show booth

Trade Show Booth Staffing Guide

You’ve booked your exhibitor space, ordered your booth banners and gathered your giveaways. There’s just one element missing: You still need to put together the team who will staff your trade show. Choosing the right people to staff your booth—and training them properly—can make or break your trade show success. Here are the five main trade show booth staffing roles you need to know, plus tips for training your staff.

Trade Show Booth Staffing Roles

There are five main roles that every trade show booth staffing plan should have, though some people may be able to serve in multiple roles at a small booth. The five essential trade show staffing positions are:

Hosts

Hosts are usually the first people who interact with attendees when they visit your booth. Hosts welcome visitors, get them registered and (if the booth is large enough) give them the lay of the land and point out areas of interest. First impressions are very important, especially in a crowded and competitive trade show environment, so choose your hosts wisely!

Presenters

Presenters give live demonstrations of your product or service and make sure that any videos or slides in the exhibit keep running smoothly. While they may not be trained sales staff (that’s a separate role), they are knowledgeable about what your company has to offer and willing to answer questions that attendees may have.

Crowd Gatherers

Crowd gatherers act as hosts in their own way, but work outside the booth, welcoming people at aisles and corners and directing them to your booth. Many crowd gatherers also hand out informational flyers or small promotional giveaway items to help incentivize people to visit the booth.

Activity Coordinators

Activity coordinators oversee trade show booth games, manage raffles and contests and make sure that winners get their prizes. If your booth is small enough, another person on this list (likely a host) might also be able to serve as an activity coordinator, but larger booths need separate roles.

Salespeople

Salespeople are experts at pitching your products, qualifying attendees and gathering leads for follow-up (and sometimes closing a sale right on the trade show floor!). They often tag team with other roles listed here, so you might have an activity coordinator and a salesperson staffing a trade show booth game, for example.

Trade Show Booth Staffing Tips

Knowing the right trade show roles is only half the battle. You also have to train the people in those positions. Here are our top tips for training your trade show booth staff:

  1. Start planning for your staffing needs at least three months in advance. Ask your top choices if they’d be willing to attend the event and have them block off their calendars so no one accidentally schedules a vacation during the trade show.

  2. Even though your trade show staff should each have a designated role, they should all be cross-trained so one of them can step in if someone else needs to use the bathroom, eat lunch or take an important phone call. Everyone should be trained on basic sales skills as well as the products and services you’ll be selling at the booth.

  3. No matter what roles they have, talk to staff about having an open and friendly demeanor. They shouldn’t walk around with their arms crossed or leave their backs turned to the aisle—that kind of body language is pretty unwelcoming. A simple smile and a polite “hello” go a long way in creating a welcoming trade show experience for attendees.

  4. Set grooming standards for all of your trade show booth staff. Also communicate criteria for dressing. Do this in advance so people have time to shop for additional clothes if necessary. If you’re ordering custom apparel for staff to wear at the booth, involving them in the selection process is a nice way to get buy-in.

  5. Role playing isn’t just for Dungeons & Dragons fans. It can be a really helpful training tool for your staff. Assign each person a role and have them act out common trade show scenarios, such as dealing with an unqualified visitor or a disruptive attendee.

  6. Set goals for the team and each individual so expectations are clear. Talk about how many visitors you’d like to get, how many presentations you want to give, how many custom notebooks you need to give away—whatever criteria you use to judge the ROI of the event.

Now you’re equipped with the tools you need to staff your next trade show booth the right way. Good luck, and we wish you the best of success!

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