Meet the Experts – Trade Show Staff with Åsa Dahlqvist
Hello Åsa welcome to The Exhibitor! Tell us a little about you and your professional journey!
I started working in the trade show business in 1999, when I got the job as Secretary General at the Scandinavian Trade Fair Council. In 2006 I decided to start my own company and exclusively work for helping exhibitors and event planners to increase their ROI.
How early should companies start planning their participation in a business event and form their “booth team”?
The sooner the better. With more time there are bigger chances to get the staff that you want, and you will have the time to prepare them for their important task at the show floor.
Who should be part of this team?
It depends on which kind of company you have and what kind of goals you have set for the exhibition.
If the goal is to get leads, you need sales persons. If your strategy to get leads is to demonstrate complicated products or services, then you need product specialists. If one of your target groups are VIP customers or media, maybe senior executives may be a good choice.
I believe in a mix of difference competences in the booth.
NB: If you hire hostesses to work in your booth you have to give them assignments at all time. There is nothing more sad than a booth fronted with passive hostesses with fake smiles.
What kind of training should company give their booth team?
First of all the company should set objectives, measurable and valuable goals, not the day before the show, but the day before they start to plan the show. Then the objectives and goals will follow the whole project and be a logical part of the booth team’s assignment.
I recommend to train the booth staff at least twice before the show and then give feedback at the end of each day at the trade show.
The training should consist of
- How to “endure” the show, both physically and psychologically
- Your role in the booth
- The art of being active and efficient in the booth.
What methods do you recommend to monitor staff efficiency?
Actually I don’t believe in “monitoring” the staff. One good indicator to recognize an efficient booth staff is that they take all opportunities to talk to visitors with an average of 5-7 visitors per hour.
What is the best “ice-breaking” phrase to welcome visitors to your booth and engage a conversation?
The best ice-breaking phrase is when you ask a question that shows that you are interested in the visitor.
Those are not complicated questions: “Hi, what company do you represent?”, “Hi, what part of the show are you most interested in?”, etc. Give the visitors time to talk about themselves and their needs before you start to talk about your amazing offer.
One of booth’s staff duties is to capture visitors’ details for future follow-up. What are the key elements one MUST get for a proper follow-up?
Name, company, e-mail, phone number, needs and challenges (within your area of business), contact person in the booth, and of course: what you decided to be the next step.
What do you advise companies to do to insure proper return on investment?
- Set valuable goals that is measurable preferably directly after the show . Eg: number of leads, number of visitors giving feedback on our new product, number of existing customers visiting our booth, amount of direct sales in the booth, etc.
My experience is that sales goals that are set in a near future after the show seldom are evaluated – it will get too complicated or you simply forget to do it. Try to estimate a value for each of your goals. How much is one lead worth? How much is it worth to strengthen our relations with an existing customer? If you don’t know the value of the goals you will have problems calculating ROI.
- Communicate the goals to the booth staff. Give them the proper motivation to reach these goals. Everybody that works in the booth must understand their role and what the company expects of them, how they should act to reach the goals and what kind of reward they get when they reach the goals.
- Evaluate your goals. Did you reach them? Did you get other valuable results out of the show that you didn’t count on? What was the total value of the results?
Any additional tips for our readers?
The key factor for a successful exhibiting is the booth staff. No fancy booth or high-tech video on a big screen can ever replace them. I am still stunned over the fact that so many exhibitors don’t give their booth staff the proper preparing and training that they so badly need to be able to obtain all those meetings that will lead to the wanted ROI.