Trade Show Booth Manager – what should he be accountable for?
Exhibiting at trade shows isn’t an easy task. To make it work, you need to manage multiple tasks requiring various skills over a long period of time.
This is why you need a Trade Show Booth Manager – a person in charge that will manage every aspect of your participation and make your investment worth something.
If you do exhibit at business events, you already have a trade show booth manager, you may just not realize it. You may call him “event manager“, “trade show coordinator”, “booth manager” or even “project manager”. Whatever you are calling this person, he is the heart of your trade show strategy and this article reviews how you should pick that person, what he should be in charge of and how to analyze his results and efficiency.
What are the responsibilities of a trade show booth manager?
A trade show booth manager is a person controlling every aspect of your show participation: budget, planning, booth construction, promotion, marketing material, PR, lead capture, lead management, lead conversion, analytics & reporting, staff management, staff training… all this, and much more, falls under the trade show booth manager.
That doesn’t mean he has to do it all on its own.
The quality of a good manager is to know how to delegate. The trade show booth manager is no different.
His main task is to set the direction (WHY do you exhibit at such show?), the strategy (WHAT will you be doing there?) and the tactics (HOW will you make it?).
He will set the budget breakdown, then delegate the rest to the right people: marketing for booth construction and promotion, sales for lead capture and follow-ups, accounting for budget control, product team for demos and samples, etc.
This person is the only one to report to the CEO / MD – he owns the strategy, deals with every aspect of the show and other people report to him directly.
Finally, the trade show booth manager is in charge of the project before, during and after the show. He set the rules and manage the preparation ahead of the show, he is present in the booth and leads the team during the event then pushes for follow-ups and tracks results afterward.
Is it a full-time job?
It very much depends on your company’s structure and the number of shows you participate in each year.
If you attend a single show, you have no reason to hire a person to fit that role. It could be someone from your marketing team – just keep in mind that this role is very time-consuming, especially during the period 3 months before the show to two weeks after. Your manager should be given sufficient time to focus on the task.
If you attend multiple shows, it may be worth having a full-time employee in your team.
In both cases, it is important to regularly train your booth manager and refresh his knowledge.
What should a booth manager be accountable for?
Here things are getting tougher. How do you evaluate the results of your trade show booth manager?
How do you define whether he did a good job?
All this is tied to your event management strategy. The CEO / MD has to give two elements to his manager when he decides to participate in a show: a clear budget and clear objectives. These two elements then define the success of the event and the efficiency of the manager.
After the show, review these two elements:
- was the budget respected?
- were the targets reached?
Easy, right? Well, hold on. What are these “targets” and how do we define them?
Targets are directly related to the reason why you attend the show and must be figures that are easily accessible and can qualify the success of the event.
For most companies, the reason for attending a show is to acquire new business. In such case, what kind of data should be tracked?
- leads captured
- leads converted
- revenue generated
Now take these steps upside down – you know your budget and you know your business. You should, therefore, be able to tell the revenue you need to generate for the show to be a success.
Since you know the revenue AND you know your business, you should have a pretty good idea of the number of customers you need to generate such revenue.
Last, if you know how many customers you need, you be able to estimate the amount of leads required to convert the right number of customers.
Great, you’ve got your targets covered!
Give these 4 elements (budget / leads / customers / revenue) to your manager from day one and let him figure out a way to achieve these goals within the timeline (usually 6 months after the show). Don’t change the rules half-way and attach rewards to the objectives – keeping someone motivated for so long works better when generous rewards are attached. Not to mention that you don’t want that person to quit before seeing the project completed.
What do I need to give him?
There are 5 things you must absolutely give your booth manager if you wish to see him succeed in his tasks.
If you give him low budget / high targets, you will achieve nothing but frustrate him and disappoint everyone.
Have your numbers ready, sit down with him, and have an open discussion about your expectations.
Get him to agree to the terms and be ready to modify your numbers if necessary. You must get him to buy in if you want the project to be fruitful.
A well-prepared trade show takes 6 to 8 months of planning.
You owe your manager a realistic timeline. Don’t come 3 weeks before the show and demand miracles.
Make it clear to everyone that your manager is in charge of this project and everyone must follow his lead.
Clearly define the boundaries – he should not take people away from their daily job but should be able to delegate tasks as he sees fit.
Give your manager the freedom he needs to manage this project according to his own calendar.
Have regular meetings to review progress and give your input but do not micromanage him, it would end poorly for both parties.
Provide your booth manager with continuous training – whether it should be formal training with a trade show expert or self-learning online is up to you and him but make it part of your strategy.
What are the qualities of an excellent booth manager?
Excellent booth managers are hard to come by.
This is because a modern trade show booth manager must have multiple skills across several fields that make him very unique.
The right trade show booth manager must be:
- fun & creative – finding ways to stand out from the crowd, to attract visitors and motivate them to stay, coming up with cool freebies, smart marketing campaigns & exciting contests to drive traffic to the booth.
- mature & organized – planning 6 months in advance, chasing teammates, vendors, organizers, and boss’ approvals, managing everything from the color of the carpet to the roster and targets.
- young & energetic – arriving in the booth before others, making sure all is set and ready before the show opens, staying late at night to lock all valuable items and keep the booth tidy, giving pep talks and sharing energy & motivation.
- strict & careful – making sure everything goes well in the booth, catching staff eating, drinking or playing with their phones, keeping the booth neat and tidy at all times, ensuring no visitor is left alone.
- confident & knowledgeable – taking the position of a sales person when there isn’t enough staff to manage it all, finding solutions and keeping his cool when others panic, being on top of everything.
- analytical & gritty – managing the event up to 6 months after the show ended, tracking follow-up, contracts &
revenue from sales, crunching numbers to identify success &
Not easy, right?
If you find him, don’t let him go!