Here is the New Guide to Trade Show Staffing

Are trade show attendees satisfied with their experiences? One statistic suggests a high probability that the answer is no. “Only 34% of attendees said they were very satisfied with their experience at exhibitions they visited.” This makes it no shock to learn the foundation of all trade show trends for 2018 was to enhance the attendee experience.

Freeman, for example, shared “how technology, brand messaging, and personalization” would come together this year. The company provided clear ways marketers could use trends to their advantage. Among them were to “get personal.” And, exhibitors could do that with journey mapping. The goal was to put attendees on an “experiential path” that ends with them taking away “a specific message, feeling, or connection to a brand.” Also, marketers should make the journey as personal as possible and incorporate event tech to collect data. This ties together the three overarching trends for a comprehensive strategy.

Other suggestions focused on enhancing attendee engagement, such as using hands-on education or sessions that follow an open format. And, while great advice, various other articles backed up these same ideas. Often there are similar tactics across trade shows, which leads one to wonder if the consistent nature of these events contributes to attendees feeling unsatisfied.

Considering the interpersonal and sometimes complex nature of the conversations that take place at these events, maybe it’s time to examine trade show staffing instead. It’s not a topic that usually makes annual lists of top trade show trends. But, finding the right people to represent each company should be an annual priority as event marketers look to up the attendee experience.

Why Trade Show Staffing Matters

A new year’s marketing plan always brings more trade shows. What makes the new plan different is the brand’s goals and messaging, which likely impacts the look and feel of the exhibit. In fact, the average company has been reported to allot almost 32% of their total marketing budget on events and exhibitions. And, over $24 billion is spent every year in the U.S. on trade show displays. Yet, the data show that an exhibit’s appearance isn’t what resonates with its visitors. Instead, it’s the interactions with trade show staff that stay front of mind.

The Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) and its partners reveal 80% of “what attendees remember most about your booth is their interaction with company reps.” So, while a new design may stop them in their tracks, what happens next is what matters most. Sure, incorporating trends like journey mapping or hands-on learning will enhance their experience. But, the biggest differentiator will be the people who guide them through these experiences, ensuring your well-laid plans come to fruition and goals are met.

For these reasons, more marketers in various industries are seeing the need to re-examine trade show staffing. One great example is the automotive industry, which is breaking tradition and looking for more than just a pretty face. They are instead putting product specialists front and center at car expos. Brands of all kinds, whether B2B or B2C, would also be wise to look at their target audience and show objectives to see where changes are necessary. They will need trade show staff to exhibit two key traits for success in today’s world.

The Two Biggest Traits of Today’s Most Successful Trade Show Staff

When Samsung wanted to draw developers, influencers, and the media to its exhibit at the Game Developers Conference (GDC), it set out to create a multi-functional space to highlight its new apps. But, event marketers knew finding the right design for its 1,200 sq. ft. lounge alone wouldn’t cut it. So, Samsung looked “Beyond the Booth” to deliver the best attendee experience. This not only included refreshments, celebrity appearances, and VR demos. The leading brand sought the best trade show staff for this activation. These people had a certain look – one that personified the Samsung brand to a T. Yet, marketers also demanded brains – people would could effortlessly handle tasks and any obstacles that arose. They looked for the following traits:


CEIR and its partners share that the percentage of qualified leads which convert to a sale more than doubles when using trained trade show staff. That’s because people demand transparency from brands. And, having informed, and even expert, individuals working your exhibit ensures attendees walk away with the right information. The challenge is finding talent with the right skills for the tasks at hand.

For Samsung, that meant sourcing staff who have a background in virtual reality to guarantee the best Samsung Gear VR demos. But, your activation may call for other skilled technicians, makeup artists, chefs, or other specialty staff. Whoever it may be, know that their showing at the trade show can sell your product down the road or even on the spot.


Though Samsung knew it needed skilled trade show staff, another must-have of its chosen individuals was an engaging personality. The combination, CEIR also reports, results in at least one-third higher interaction rate in exhibits. And, for consumer shows, for example, these interactions make 29% of booth visitors regular buyers. On the opposite end, one boring engagement can result in a loss of $200. It may not seem much. But, the damage can really add up when trade show staff poorly interact with hundreds or thousands of attendees (Samsung’s staff engaged with over 27,000 people at GDC!).

Being engaging means being able to hold two-way conversations with visitors. It means listening and answering their questions to provide transparency. It also means sharing brand messages. The result for attendees is an authentic look at – and feel for – your brand, which allows them to trust and make a purchase. Yet, to achieve all this, trade show staff will need to engage various personalities, which also requires flexibility to overcome communication barriers and manage related stress. In short, engagement today is more than simply having interpersonal skills. And, this leaves many marketers looking for better solutions for their trade show staffing.

The Best Solution for Trade Show Staffing

Though company personnel may have first-hand knowledge of the brand and products, they may fall short at attendee engagement. This may be in carrying on easy, two-way conversations, generating leads, or in executing activities. The latter is especially true when special skills are required, such as bartending or entertaining. Marketers are then left to look for staff outside their walls – a process that may seem formidable. Working with an event staffing agency proves time and again to be a viable solution.

Partnership with a professional event staffing company removes the guesswork out of finding trade show staff with these two most important traits. In addition, the right partner will source candidates with the right look and personality for your brand. Once these factors and others come together to form your best team, the event staffing agency will facilitate training to ensure retention of key messages and a thorough knowledge of your brand and offerings. Their goal is not only to ensure you have the right trade show staff, but to give you more time to focus on those trade show trends. Your combined efforts have the power to deliver the best attendee experience on the expo floor every time.


At Elevate, our trade show staff stand ready to address any need. We have a diverse group of skilled talent who know how to engage people and build relationships, both behind the booth or when running the trade show itself with organizers. Elevate staff will raise the bar, improving any event’s attendee experience.


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