By Barry Siskind, President and Founder of International Training and Management Company (ITMC)
Training exhibit staff was never an easy thing to do. The best staff at a trade show were the ones who understood the differences between their work in the “field” and what was required to succeed in the unique environment of a trade show.
Recent CEIR information about attendees and how they behave is forcing us, once again, to examine the skill set of exhibit staff to ensure they have what it takes to meet the challenge.
For example, in a recent webinar presented by CEIR Research Director Nancy Drapeau, PRC, we learned that attendees’ needs are more sophisticated than simply learning about a new product or service to purchase. Their shopping needs also include their ability to interact with the product, to talk with experts to generate new ideas and solutions and to compare one brand against another. During this webinar, we also learned that the importance of face-to-face is in the customer’s awareness of new products in their pre-purchase stage and the relationship they have with vendors in the post-purchase stage.
The actual sale of the products or service now takes second place.This issue is coupled with the demographic impact of the change in the people who populate the trade show floor. Five separate generations, all walk the floor, with their own perspectives and very distinct likes and dislikes.
What all this means is that exhibit managers need to take the education of their exhibit staff a lot more seriously. To be successful in the future, exhibit managers will have to move beyond the time-worn excuses like, “We don’t have the time,” or “We haven’t budgeted for training,” or “My staff has been doing shows for such a long time that they don’t need any training.”
I firmly believe that the success of any exhibitor is in the proficiency of their front-line staff, and it all comes down to training.