The 5 Biggest Mistakes that Exhibitors Make when Hiring Staff.

Posted 16/08/2013
The 5 Biggest Mistakes that Exhibitors Make when Hiring Staff.

Introduction to Promotion Staff Mistakes made by Exhibitors

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Engaging visitors and creating a positive first impression at Tradeshows is a fine art, and when executed badly, it can have a huge negative impact on the Exhibitor’s ROI.

One of the most effective ways to attract and engage visitors at Exhibitions is by outsourcing external Promotion Staff from a specialist Exhibition Staffing Agency.

This process can either be an excellent investment helping Exhibiting and Marketing Managers meet their ROI, or it can be the making of a really bad nightmare, producing next to nothing for your hard earned marketing dollar and causing you endless tension during the exhibition.

Below I highlight the 5 biggest mistakes that Exhibitors can make when hiring external promotion staff and how to avoid them. (I am not going to talk about Exhibitors hiring and dressing Promotion Staff in Hot Pants….have been down that road before).

Please note that I am using the term “Promotion Staff” to collectively describe Booth Hosts/Hostesses, Brand Ambassadors, Spokesmodels, Narrators, Presenters, Emcees, Lead Generators, Sales Staff, Crowd Gatherers and Interpreters/Translators.

1. Choosing the Cheapest Agency:

As an Exhibit Manager it is important that you shop around and get the cheapest staffing option available in order to meet your budgetary requirements; however it is also imperative that you get the best “value” for your money. Going for the cheapest rate can prove to be very expensive in the long term.

To select the right agency, you should be asking the following questions as a very minimum before settling on the agency to work with you:

– If an agency is offering a very cheap rate, just think what will the agency be paying their staff? Are they going to be motivated to work at your stand for an amount sometimes less than minimum wage?

TIP: When promotion staff are well paid, it means that they are motivated, happy and willing to go the extra smile to help you achieve your objectives.

– What is the agency’s staff selection process? Do they give you any options to choose the staff or do they send whoever is available on their database?

TIP: You should always ask to see profiles of available staff and also if necessary ask to interview them by telephone or even Skype video to determine if they are the right people to help you meet your objectives.

– How many people do they have on their database and how do they recruit them? An agency that claims to have 20,000 people on their books doesn’t always have quality measures at the top of their recruitment policy.

TIP: It is worth asking the agency what their recruitment criteria is so that you can determine if the quality of staff is important to them versus the quantity of their staff database.

– What is the agency’s back-up policy if the selected Promotion Staff go off sick or they don’t show up?

TIP: A good agency will have an account manager on standby during the event to find you a replacement within a reasonable timescale should any emergency situations arise.

2. Selecting the Wrong Type of Staff

Exhibitors often make the mistake of selecting Promotion Staff for their looks and first impressions based on their profile photos and images. Taking time to check staff credentials closely and also interviewing prospective candidates can help you choose the right staff to fit in with your company brand, your internal staffing team and your objectives.

TIP: You should determine what kind of promotion person you are looking for, what their role/objectives will be at the event and how they will work with your team, communicate this to your selected agency and ask them to find you the candidates that fit your selection criteria.

The key things you need to be looking at before selecting your staff are:

– What kind of experience and qualifications does the candidate have?
– If it is an international event, do they speak the right languages?
– Does their physical appearance complement your brand?
– Have they worked in your specific industry sector before?
– What kind of personality do they have?
– How long have they been working for that agency?
– What was their previous feedback from any exhibition type work?

3. Leaving it until the Last Minute

If you are booking Promotion Staff, to deliver a marketing message and increase the footfall to your stand then why leave such an important task until the very last minute? If you want to execute a successful promotion strategy then you need to start preparing at least 3-4 months in advance.

By booking Promotion Staff at the very last minute, you will have a limited amount of staff choices, the staff will not have time to prepare, and you risk no-shows as there might be communication issues between you, the agency and the Promotion Staff.

TIP: All the best Promotion Staff are booked 2-3 months in advance. The very best are booked 6-12 months in advance. So get your orders in early!

4. Lack of Staff Training/Preparation

To achieve positive results from Promotion Staff you need to prepare them accordingly in line with your tradeshow objectives. The old phrase, “Piss poor preparation = piss poor results” rings very true in the Exhibiting World!

TIP: When you hire promotional staff, you need to provide them with a detailed Staff Service Schedule that contains clear objectives and tasks.

1. The services schedule should be communicated to all selected staff at least 7 days prior to the event.
2. Schedule must contain detailed information about onsite contact names, dress code, objectives, job roles, Exhibitor USP’s, any promotions at event and your expectations from the staff. If there are scripts to be learned then you should send these at least 1 month in advance.
3. Make time for a training/briefing session with your team one day before or a minimum 2 hours before the show starts. For presenters, you should arrange a rehearsal a day before the event.
4. Make the sales information simple and clear to understand– try to focus the Promotion Staff on asking key qualifying questions to visitors to find out if your services are relevant to them, and give them 3-5 “Wow” USP statements to communicate to visitors. The key is to engage visitors in conversation qualify them and move them on to the next stage of the sales process.

5. Poor Staff Management during the Exhibition

The key to a successful day on the show floor is to ensure that you manage the promotional staff on the stand in a motivational manner and create a positive working atmosphere. Just because they are external agency staff doesn’t mean that you can shout at them, demean them, linger at them, try to chat them up, or be just plain rude to them. They are people too, with feelings, just like you. All they ask is for you to treat them with respect, and professional courtesy in a business-like manner.

You should treat external agency staff as part of your stand team; praise them for their hard work, and ensure that they get some breaks to recharge their batteries. A debrief session at the end of each day is recommended to ask for their feedback on how things went for them. They will see and hear things that your team may not be aware of on the show floor and can give you some vital information about your prospects, customers or even competitors, so you need to give them a platform to communicate these things to your company.

One of the biggest staff management issues at the booth/stand is promotional staff receiving directions from multiple managers present at the exhibition stand, these sometimes being contradictory directions to what they have been told previously. This causes confusion, misdirection and unnecessary tension between the Promotion Staff and the Exhibitor’s staff.

TIP: Nominate ONE internal person to be the main point of contact for all external Promotion Staff to avoid any conflicts of interest and communicate this to all of the internal staff so that they know who is in charge of the promotion team to avoid any conflicts of interest.


This article was written by Lee Ali -Managing Director – Expo Stars Interactive Ltd.

Copyright 2013 Expo Stars Interactive Ltd.

Posted 16/08/2013