Promoters and hostesses on exhibitions

Trade Show Chronicles – What about promoters (chapter 9)

This article belongs to the “Trade Show Chronicles” series. It tells the story of Andrew, young sales executive newly employed by a Hong Kong company that will attend his first trade show in a few months time. From understanding what exhibitions are all about to organizing the booth, recruiting promoters and following-up on leads, Andrew will live a complete adventure unique to the world of exhibitions.

Chapter 8 – Let’s talk statistics


It is 4 o’clock in the morning when I wake up, panicked, realizing I still haven’t arranged any promoter for our booth. I’m not even sure to know where to find promoters or what they are supposed to help me with.

I am pretty certain calling Charles at this early hour wouldn’t be a smart idea but going back to bed is out of the question. I decide to send a message to Karen and start looking for information on the internet.

“Hi Karen! Do you remember our conversation about promoters? I think we need to hire some ASAP!”

I just have time to press my laptop’s power button before my phone vibrates on the table. I grab it and look. The screen displays “Don’t worry, I’ve arranged it already!”. Does she actually EVER sleep? Karen seems to be as efficient at night as she is in daytime.

Now that I am fully awake and my computer is turned on, I decide it isn’t worth going back to sleep and make myself some coffee to help me during my research: “what are promoters supposed to do on a trade show booth?”

I browse a bunch of articles talking about promoters and hostesses on trade show booths and the more I read the more confused I get… are they fully part of the stall-staff? Are they just here to distribute flyers? Are hostesses only supposed to be sexy-and-smiling young ladies dragging traffic to our sales team? It seems everyone has its own opinion as for what promoters & hostesses are supposed to achieve at an exhibition.

As I scratch my head after reading another article I look at my watch: 8.45am! I am really late! I send myself some articles via email, jump in a pair of trousers, brush my teeth in a hurry and run out of my apartment.

As I hit the bus, I open my emails on my smartphone and start browsing a few more articles – I takes about 15 minutes to reach the office and I should be able to read a bit more before work.


I open my eyes. Where am I? I look around me searching for something I could recognize.
– “That’s the last stop young man!” says the driver, impatient.
I am still in the bus! My watch shows 9.45am and I am nowhere close to the office. I check my phone that slipped from my fingers to the floor – 4 missed calls. I storm out of the bus, hail a cab and send it straight to the office while dialing on my phone.
– “Hi Karen! Look, I’m sorry but…”
– “Where have you been?? I called you four times!”
– “I know, I was…”
– “No time for that, there’s an emergency here! I’ve received a call from the part-time staff agency I always work with and the two hostesses I hired earlier bailed on us! And you can be sure the boss will ask about it, we need to come up with a backup plan right away!”
– “I’ll be in the office in ten”.

When I finally arrive it is past 10 o’clock. Lucky for me, my boss is not around – I won’t have to go through a long explanation. Karen seems incredibly panicked. When she sees me coming she runs towards me and drags me in the meeting room.

– “I can’t believe you text me at 4am but then manage to be late for work!” as I open my mouth to reply she waves her hand to keep me quiet and continues “Ok, we need to find promoters now! So I need you to help me give a few phone calls”.
– “Karen, I have a question.” I hesitate for a second but as she looks at me impatiently I decide to ask “What do we need promoters for?”
She widen her eyes, trying to evaluate whether I am making fun of her or being serious. She finally decides to ignore my question and say “We don’t have time for that, let’s fix this problem first!”
With a sudden excess of confidence, I catch her arms as she turns back.
– “Look, Karen, we have to figure out WHY we are hiring promoters if we want it to be efficient.”
– “Are you serious?! We need promoters to P-R-O-M-O-T-E our booth! Is it really that complicated?”
Keeping my calm, I reply:
– “And what does ‘promote’ mean? What do you ACTUALLY expect from these promoters?”. I think Karen has been organizing so many events in the past using the same method she never took the time to think about WHY she was doing what she was doing.
– “We want pretty girls distributing flyers, attracting traffic to our booth and making demos to visitors. As simple as this.”
– “Is it the right strategy? I mean… I understand that is what we have always done, but since we are changing strategy quite a bit this time, wouldn’t it be worth finding out what we really expect from promoters also?”

After two hours discussion, Karen and I have made a list of things promoters and hostesses can potentially help with:

  • driving traffic to the booth
  • distributing flyers
  • welcoming visitors
  • giving demonstrations
  • capturing leads

We decide to ignore our traditional methods – if we are to hire someone, that person should be doing more than just smile or distribute pamphlets. Our promoters will be treated as any other sales person on the booth – that means we need to train them. With the help of some nice articles* discussing various aspects of hiring and managing hostesses and part-timers, we decide to build a clear plan.

When the boss finally shows up around 3pm, we are both smiling and confident with a clear idea of our promoters strategy. It seems I will sleep better tonight than last night!


Next Chapter – Setting up a training session

The Exhibitor.

The Trade Show Chronicles - exhibition booth management novel


Trade Show Chronicles – What about promoters (chapter 9)
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