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ITTFA Comment on…. Motivating Exhibition Stand Personnel

As we all know, working at an exhibition is hard work.  It usually involves several long days of intense face to face interaction, being constantly on your feet and remaining polite and cheerful throughout.  Staying motivated therefore can often be a real challenge, especially at the end of the day or at slow times during the show.  Neither is there any point in having staff on the stand who are simply extra bodies, looking bored and not making the most of all opportunities, be that from a sales and marketing perspective or pure and simple public relations, both on and off the stand.

Therefore, to maximize return on investment and make the most of the time and effort put in on the stand, it is essential that stand personnel are fully prepared for their time at an exhibition and that sufficient importance is placed on pre show staff preparation by the management team.  This preparation should cover personal motivation, creating a team spirit and communication skills as well as company and product knowledge. 

Perhaps the overall key element to motivation of exhibition stand staff is that they want to be there.  Often the location of the show is enough to create interest but frequently sales people do not like to be taken out of their normal routine and may see the time away as sales opportunities missed.  This is in fact quite the opposite as new leads will be generated, new contacts made and new ideas gleaned from competitors.

Stand personnel should also be outgoing, good communicators and ambassadors for the company so choose individuals who you think will cope with the constant interaction, who will remain calm and create the right impression.  Once chosen, bring these individuals together in a series of pre show meetings and create a team with a mission.  Set individual and team goals and provide incentives. Consider the strengths of each team member and how these will interact.  If the opportunity allows, put staff together whose skills will best compliment each other.  For example, a technical expert may not be the best of communicators but working along side a partner with an outgoing personality and great interpersonal skills would increase effectiveness.

Ensure that staff have all the background information they need to deal with all kinds of enquiries and if they don’t have the answers, make sure they know how to find them or how to deal successfully with the enquiry by taking details and following up.  Product and corporate information as well as some competitor insight are essential.
Social evenings, after a long day at the show, are good for unwinding and for moral.  Local visits to places of interest also add diversity to the working day and pave the way for positive take home impressions.  Financial incentives are also an option if sales and goals are achieved.  On a more basic level, providing staff with a pleasant environment outside the exhibition hall, good quality accommodation if away from home, ample budgets for provision of meals, telephone calls and other essentials, also makes for happier employees. 

Familiarise staff with the market place. If overseas, then cover any idiosyncrasies of that particular market – ways to do business or things not to do that might cause unnecessary upset.  Ensure staff are dressed in a professional manner, perhaps providing a corporate tie or shirt that helps create team spirit and belonging.

Let the team know what is expected of them, what the rationale is behind being at the exhibition and what objectives have been set.  Provide any necessary training to allow them to do their job effectively.  Positive support and involvement from top management, shown by attending the show, helping on the stand or taking part in training programmes and pre- and post-show activities, creates enthusiasm and underlines the importance of the project from a corporate perspective.

It is the responsibility of management to create a positive, high energy and fun environment and to realize that it is not just incentives that create success.  Personal recognition of hard work and accomplishments encourage higher levels of performance.  This can be achieved via a simple thank you, or a variety of in expensive but thoughtful awards such as dinner on the company, gift vouchers etc.

The more managers know their individual staff members, the more they are able to recognize what motivates them.  Studies show that people are more motivated by personal recognition than by money.  By acknowledging the power of recognition and appreciation and creating the right foundations, managers can create a more positive, productive and enjoyable environment whilst working an exhibition stand.

Co-Founder & Managing Director - Travel Media Applications | Website

Theodore is the Co-Founder and Managing Editor of TravelDailyNews Media Network; his responsibilities include business development and planning for TravelDailyNews long-term opportunities.