Engaged Exhibit Staff = Engaged Attendees

Derse | November 4, 2022

You’ve spent that last three, six, or even nine months working toward your upcoming trade show. You’re excited to finally see it take form, and looking forward to watching all the hard work and collaboration pay off.

But what happens when you show up and notice that your trade show staff is disinterested, disengaged, and disconnected from your exhibit and your customers?

If you don’t prepare and train your colleagues, your show-stopping exhibit design will only go so far to help you achieve your goals and make the most of your face-to-face marketing investment.

Derse has been in the trade show and event industry for nearly 75 years – helping our clients connect with their customers. We know the power in-person brand experiences can have on your customers and want to eliminate some pain points so you can focus on what really matters – your relationship with your customer.

Let’s get into the top-three problems we observe on the trade show floor among booth staffers and the solutions you can implement before the trade show even begins.


What it looks like:

  • Personal conversations in the exhibit during show hours, often deterring potential customers to enter your space and start a conversation
  • Exhibit staff appears more interested in each other than educating attendees on products and services they are there to represent
  • The exhibit space is overstaffed, which may overwhelm visitors


  • Set aside designated time outside of show hours for staff socializing and meals
  • Reinforce why your company is attending the trade show (for example, to collect leads and interact with potential customers on the show floor), and make sure trade show staff are aware of how little time is really available to make an impact
  • Lean, mean, and a dedicated team – although a well-prepared exhibit team often ranges in size, it’s important to pay attention to how many staff members engage with an attendee. We recommend no more than one to two staff members engage with an attendee at a time.


What it looks like:

  • A poorly engaged exhibit staff member approaches attendees with yes or no questions which ultimately can cut the conversation before it even begins and doesn’t get to the root of the attendees' pain points or reasons they are visiting your exhibit


  • We have two ears and one mouth. Act accordingly by seeking the problem and discussing the solution.
  • Replace yes or no questions with questions starting with “how, why, and what" which lead to longer, more in-depth conversations


What it looks like:

  • Booth staff may be in the exhibit space, dressed accordingly, and educated on their mission, but their eyes fall to their smartphone more frequently than eye contact with potential attendees


  • If a smartphone must be used, encourage staff to step away from the exhibit and return once free to focus on the role at hand
  • Provide 15-minute breaks during exhibit hours for staff to check email and phone messages

Schedule a booth staff training meeting either prior to your trade show start date or the morning that the trade show floor opens to make sure everyone understands the goals and rules while staffing the booth. A well-planned and well-executed face-to-face experience will help you achieve your trade show goals and objectives, and set the stage for the success of your entire program.

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