Success-Boosting Staffing Strategies for Events and Exhibitions
With any event you are always endeavouring to create the optimum conditions to market your business. It is so vital to keep in mind that you rarely have more than one chance to make that all important first impression. You are putting your best foot forward so as to entice potential clients in meeting face to face. Having an awesome exhibition booth design or event setup is that first and vital “foot-forward” step.
Okay, so now you have a great booth. Check that one off the list.
However, no matter how impressive your booth or event set-up may be, all that can suddenly become irrelevant if you are not properly represented by a solid professional staff. It is always nice for your employees to get a break and get away from the mundane day-to-day at the office, but be sure they are fully trained, ready and, most importantly, well-suited to a position where they likely will be the first point of contact for those bearing potential business opportunities for you. Make it a point that the most smooth and experienced of your staff are on the frontline fighting for your company (as opposed to “Mike” in IT who always has food stains on his polo shirt).
How to elicit employee excitement
Let’s say you have a few of your valued employees who are ready to represent your brand out there. It’s always a good idea (as a form of motivation) to reward them with the promise of an after-event retreat, something that is nice enough to make it perfectly clear how important this event/exhibition is for the company. I usually don´t believe in monetary bonuses, the effect is very temporary and quickly forgotten. But consider gifting your most successful sales staff members with a little monetary bonus occasionally or with 1 or 2 extra days off after the tiring event activities have been successfully completed. And, while you’re at it, this might be a good time to remove the less than sterling employees from your staff list for upcoming events. Though it can be challenging to break this kind of news, it will avoid the future waste of your money and time and save you from potentially losing future business opportunities- It doesn´t mean that they are not great event organizers or marketing staff, but we need types with the sharpest business acumen and requisite charm & charisma to shine for your brand, all within a short time frame where every new contact counts.
The right staff for an exhibition booth or corporate event
Again, and I cannot stress it enough, unprofessional staff at your exhibition stage or on the frontline of your event is a business and reputation killer. You want your staff to properly represent your philosophy and level of professionalism. This is essential. So let´s have a look at where you find these guys and how you can optimally position them:
PUNKTLANDUNG’s TOP TEN LIST
1. Look for the perfect event heroes in all departments
All of your various employees, no matter how good they are with their usual job descriptions, might not always be the best choice for the frontline at an event or exhibition. Limit you search to only the extraordinary individuals in your company and don’t be shy about excluding those who can’t cut the proverbial mustard. Those who are liked by everyone, those who are outgoing, those who are the networkers and communicators within your company- these are the folks you want on stage and remember they should be ready to work in all kinds of departments! You might also look for staff members who are expert analysts who can talk about a topic at your event or at your booth and thereby contribute to the overall legitimacy of your event. However, working at an event or exhibition is not just about the role one has within the company, it is also very important that he or she be the best person, personality wise, to be put in front of clients and visitors. We’re talking about charisma here and guess what? Sometimes you hire the wrong people for these roles. So overcome hierarchical thinking and utilize those who are communication experts to work their wonders. In circumstances such as these, style can often trump substance.
2. Don’t leave your market and sales staff at the office
For those who are versed in marketing and sales, these members of staff also need to be there as a kind of second line, in case they don´t have first line potential. They can serve to back up the communication heroes, providing one-on-one informational chats with your event or booth visitors.
3. Use expert speakers
Choose extraordinary speakers who can express to the audience complicated concepts without putting people to sleep. You may want to get an external speaker and may need to pay for this role, but trust me it’s worth it. One of your more outgoing staff members, ones who are comfortable in the limelight could also be tasked with interviewing your expert, perhaps make it a round table if you can assemble more than one expert. Interesting topics presented by interesting people draws interest from the crowds and the ugly truth is that for most brands their in-house experts are simply NOT good speakers. Avoid this, gently…
4. Book stunning models
Despite how times seem to have changed what never does is the power of a beautiful face and a shapely body. Nothing can attract traffic to a booth or give an awesome first (and sophisticated) impression at a reception counter like a hot model. Yes, I am telling you nothing new and believe me, it applies for both genders, male and female. Physical beauty attracts visitors to a booth and pleasant looking or friendly and sympathetic event staff (it is not always about physical looks) work wonders for your conference, event, or dinner and dance- you name it. I highly suggest going for professional staff in this instance. They are experienced in what they do, having done it a million times more often than your employees ever will. They will give the right first impression to your visitors and guests- after all they are professional models! This inevitably leads to a big boost in traffic to any exhibition booth. Punktlandung just so happens to have some of the best, most stunning models, should you ever need assistance in this area.
5. Hire the best emcee you can afford
Any corporate event is only as good as the people you hire and this certainly applies to the talent in the spotlight, such as the aforementioned models and speakers. It’s certainly true for those who provide the glamour and excitement and the pure entertainment of event hosting- the emcees. The emcee is the key factor in the success of any event. He or she is that day’s face for your company and a representative of your brand. This individual better be good- you do NOT want a less than sterling perception of your company automatically set in the minds of those present. Sorry, but if the emcee sucks so do you!
6. Have the CEO on stage or in the booth
If you have pulled out all the stops for an exhibition stand or a conference event, nothing more shows the importance of the endeavour than having the highest level management onsite. In international politics delegations that are headed by a country’s leader are taken far more seriously than those which are fronted by lower level support personnel. The same holds true in this instance. If you wish to have your event to project a greater gravitas then be sure to have a CEO there to make it happen!
7. Teamwork: Show humility
Indicate that your company is a team effort by showcasing the importance of all the members of it. Nothing beats a good working team. In fact, if you are a marketing leader or CEO, you should leave the stage sometimes so that your staff can shine and perform to their full potential. If you can create an atmosphere in which the trade fair hostess is given the same respect and treatment as a marketing executive, if you can show that your head of sales is no less valuable than the receptionist (whom you discovered is a good pick for your event because of her incredible hospitality skills) and if you can humble yourself to the same level with everyone else then you are on the right track. If your leadership mentality is somewhat like shown on the title picture be prepared to fail. Check the ego at the door and allow everyone to shine as one glorious whole!
8. Acknowledge the most important person onsite!
You know who is actually the most important person at your exhibition or event? (Hint: It’s not you.) Your event manager is! Everything lives and dies due to his or her organizational and improvisational skills. This person knows the big picture and is the CEO of sorts for the day. Don’t forget to acknowledge this again and again after the event and more importantly during the show itself. Things can go wrong. You show your professionalism by protecting him or her from any inappropriate criticism. This person with whom you have entrusted your company’s reputation is the one who can make things right and has the experience, resources and ability to turn things around within minutes. You can damage his or her motivation or self-esteem in front of your team, so be very mindful of this. You certainly don’t want to destroy the smooth flow of the rest of your event by not standing in support of this very important person. For this day, he is not just “a person on your pay list” but the hands-on, frontline fighter for your brand! This actually applies for all your staff: Feedback and criticism has no place at your event. However, it is a very important topic to visit for a follow-up meeting a few days later when everyone has recovered and is able to accept and absorb your notes.
9. Have a “runner” onsite
There certainly has to be a “hands on” mentality for everyone working at your event, but you should also have someone specifically there who can organize things quickly, get stuff from the storage room (new brochures or gifts, etc.) or do other physical and general support work, quickly and efficiently so you don´t need to bother your experts with such minutiae. Having a runner on site can make a world of a difference for the smooth operation of your event. But don’t label him or her as a “runner” (see point 7).
10. Coaching – Coaching – Coaching
You cannot expect people to always work according to your expectations, especially if you don’t coach them in advance. If you apply my previous tip of getting staff from other departments to present at an exhibition booth or event, you HAVE to train them first! Mainly you will need to coach them about your company’s sales strategies, how to engage with visitors and to also indicate what is confidential so as to not have any beans spilled that could hurt your competiveness. Brief them on the program flow and on your intended agenda. Indicate your preferred code of conduct and behaviour and, lastly and most importantly, give guidelines for a unified professional appearance of your event staff. And, though it might be obvious for you as a leader or business owner, one should not play Angry Birds with a mobile phone in front of visitors or slump in a corner like a piece of furniture. But guess what? Some people don’t think about that and you need to tell them. This is the reason why we see so many unmotivated and simply unprofessional staff at many events. For those of us who are event staffing and coaching experts, it is a painful to see individuals disrespecting a brand’s reputation by not having the right body posture or by eating a sandwich in some darkened corner right in front of visitors, many of whom we find feel neglected or simply ignored. After coaching, be sure to get it all in writing and make them sign it to ensure compliance.
The last point is perhaps the most important and worthy of a whole separate topic. Efficient staff coaching and strict rules for behaviour and communication at an event are THE key to a successful event and for the all-important presentation of your brand. Remember, there is only one chance for that first and vital impression!
As providers of top-notch talent and large-scale staffing for exhibitions and events, we go beyond just the staffing itself, we actually put in place one of our Event Directors to oversee the teams onsite. With you employees they go through extensive coaching in corporate behaviour and specific event rules for the show so that you, our client, can receive the whole package, ready-to-go and efficiently managed so you can be assured of a magnificent outcome and to be allowed the freedom to focus on what YOU do best!
We also go to our clients to coach staff specifically for an event or exhibition. In doing so we apply our 16 years of experience in sales strategies and marketing to make your next event the very best it can be.
About the author:
Dennis Fink is a passionate event strategist. His innovative and on-point staffing strategies for event teams have lead to awards for “Best Event Staff” at leading finance & insurance exhibitions in Germany. He is now bringing his expertise to Singapore, helping the finest brands in improving their success at exhibitions and events and preparing their personnel to shine for these all-important shows.