We’re currently working on a couple of bespoke training courses for clients with very technical products in manufacturing and construction.  One of the biggest challenges they have faced previously is that whilst technical experts are crucial for explaining the intricacies of their products, they found that they were missing some opportunities in engaging with visitors who were passing the stand.  We’re helping them understand how to identify the different roles they might need in their stand squad and how they balance the different individuals they have available for the show. As we always emphasise, as a project manager it’s important to make sure YOU pick your squad and not let it choose YOU! After all, if your industry trade show involves a 7 night trip to Vegas you’re probably not going to be short of volunteers! 


If you’re the project manager for your organisation’s trade show delivery then you have our utmost respect and empathy!  It’s the toughest job in the squad, the one whose decisions everyone criticises, the one who has to have the answer to every conceivable question and the one who ultimately will carry either the glow of success or burden of failure (despite your efforts). Patience, attention to detail, tenacity, energy and resilience will be your key traits along with the organisation skills of a ninja and the multitasking of a mum of triplets! But it does also give you the licence to outline exactly the roles you need in your squad to help you deliver events most effectively – but what might they be? 

STAND HOST: depending on how big your stand is and how diverse your visitor audience, you might employ a stand host to initially engage with visitors, ask some screening questions to understand how your proposition best meets their needs before introducing them to the most relevant member of the squad for a deeper conversation. Ideal candidates for this role are those who are confident approaching and talking to strangers, but who can quickly filter out the time-wasters and find those who will add most value to you. 

MEDIA & PR: the media can be a fantastic channel through which to amplify your trade show experience through covering product launches or demos and interviewing your senior team. However, many exhibitors can be nervous about saying or doing the wrong thing in front of the press. Having a designated press contact who understands what your company messaging is and can answer any questions will relieve the anxiety for the rest of your squad allowing them to focus on what they do best. 

CUSTOMER SERVICE: existing customers are just as, if not more important than finding new ones at trade shows and largely they’ll be pleased to see some friendly faces and chat about the current state of the industry.  However, occasionally there can be those customers who have a niggle they need to raise or a problem they don’t feel has been resolved satisfactorily and this can throw an unsuspecting exhibitor way off track!  Having a member of the customer service team available who understands the complaints processes and has knowledge of any current issues will enable any tricky conversations to be concluded discretely and quickly. 

TECHNICAL EXPERT: a fantastic resource for very intricate products or services, where a visitor will expect an exhibitor to speak their language and understand the specifics of their problems. Technical experts are passionate advocates of how brilliant your product or service is and for the right visitors, can be your best sales people, but they can also overawe those who aren’t as advanced in their buying decision or who aren’t as technically minded. 

OPERATIONS MANAGER: if you have a very large stand with a number of different elements such as demo’s, catering and 1:1 appointments it might be worth thinking about an operations manager who has responsibility for making sure everything runs smoothly. This could include keeping the whole stand tidy, re-booting kit & equipment if there are any problems, keeping literature  racks filled and ensuring all appointments happen on time. 

SALES PEOPLE: the automatic default selection for many exhibition teams who only employ sales teams on their stand.  Undoubtedly a crucial element of the mix, but relying purely on sales people can compromise on the value other roles can bring to the overall experience for a visitor. It’s also worth thinking about incorporating different sales roles within your squad, for example do you offer different discounts, services or promotions for customers with different spend levels?  If so, does your squad have a specialist for small and large customers so everyone feels special? 

DATA MANAGER: as part of your planning process you’ll have defined what contact details you’ll be collecting, how you’re prioritising them and where you’re storing them. A data manager could be responsible for ensuring that leads are being collected and that the information you’re collecting is still relevant and doesn’t need tweaking. You could also ask them to conduct exit interviews with visitors to get some feedback on what they thought of the stand, how it could be improved and any other comments which might be useful for the evaluation process. 

SOCIAL MEDIA MANAGER: many exhibitors are tasking their entire stand squad with the job of tweeting, posting and LinkingIn from the stand but as this is giving permission to have mobiles out, it can often creep into reading and answering emails on the stand which never looks good to visitors. A dedicated social media manager with red-hot digital skills can help ensure your contributions are engaging, relevant and effective in drawing visitors to your stand and being part of the conversation. 

If you’re reading this as a small business owner thinking ‘Crikey but it’s just me and my mum” then full credit for recognising you need a minimum of two people. It is a luxury to have a pool of different people to select your stand squad from but don’t panic if you don’t. You just need to think about how you can transition between the different roles and how you would answer the questions you might get asked from visitors with different interests. 

So, if you’re getting down to planning your trade show campaigns for 2019, have you thought about who you’ll need for your stand, what you need them to do and how you’re going to brief them? Not sure about your next steps and how to get the best out of your squad – why not get in touch and see if we can help you with your #tradeshowtrouble? 

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