How To Hire, Train, & Schedule Trade Show Staff

Posted by Joe Brosnan on Mar 5, 2020 8:00:00 AM


On show day, you want everything to be perfect—giveaways fully stocked, games ready to be played, graphics crisp and readable, and so on. But even if all those items are good to go, they don’t matter much if you don’t have enough people—or the right people in some cases—to make use of all the engaging elements in your Branded Environment. You may be able to bring some key players from your team to the show, but you’ll likely need to onboard a few trade show temps to ensure all your bases are covered. Below we cover ways you can hire, train, and schedule your trade show crew.

Hiring Trade Show Staff

Where To Find Trade Show Temps

Your first instinct might be to reach out to a local temp agency to find folks. But you’re not just looking for warm bodies to hand out t-shirts—you’ll often need specific talents or skill sets. For example, you may need:

  • Crowd gatherers—People who are good at bringing people into the booth from the trade show floor, or good at gathering crowds right outside your booth.
  • Greeters—People who act as your brand ambassadors, scanning show badges, handing out marketing literature, and directing attendees through your booth as needed.
  • Speakers—People who are especially good at public speaking to communicate with large groups of people for product reveals or game moderating.
  • Lead generators—People who can learn and talk about your brand in depth to conduct one-on-one demos of your product or deliver presentations to smaller groups of booth visitors.

Whether you’re looking for these or other niche talents—such as dancers, magicians, or impersonators—finding special talent for your next trade show requires the services of an event staffing company that’s well versed in not only the type of people you’ll need, but also the timing and working conditions. You may even luck out in finding an event staffer that specializes in trade shows. In any case, contact a few different companies and try out the people they supply. Once you find a staffer you like, stick with them. Having them queued up will make the hiring process easier next time, especially if the staffing agency can supply the same temps for subsequent trade shows.

How To Interview Trade Show Temps

In preparation for interviewing temps, consider what you’re looking to get out of them. Do they need to be able to speak well, retain a lot of information, get people excited, or something else? This will help guide the questions you ask and determine whether their answers fit the bill.

A call is often warranted, especially if they need to be personable and engaging. Beyond their answers, how they talk to you can help make this determination. Try running situations you’ve seen in past trade shows by them to see their approach.

In addition, as with any hiring process, getting references and recommendations is always helpful. And you’ll want to meet them in person before the show, but video can be a good substitute if you won’t be arriving early, or just want to verify they are a good fit.

Trade Show Staff Training Tips

1. Be prepared.

Whatever role your trade show temps are meant to step into, be sure they know it well. In fact, all staff members should know who is doing what, where, and when so no one steps on anyone else’s toes. (Tweet this!)

Rapid7, one of our clients, stays prepared by bringing in the same temps every year. They have a few crowd gatherers who deck out in Rapid7 gear, and their job is to ride around on branded scooters to point attendees to the brand’s booth. In between presentations, the temps go out with microphones to bring new people in for the next one—they help hype up attendees by letting them know about giveaways and other fun stuff in the booth.

2. Practice, practice, practice.

You want trade show temps to pass as regular members of your team, so remember the old adage, practice makes perfect. This is especially true if you’ve hired lead generators who need to have detailed knowledge of your products and services. Make sure temps have all the resources they need to learn and understand your brand—website, marketing materials, brand guidelines, etc.

If they’re doing something scripted, such as a presentation or demo, do dry runs with them in the days leading up to the show. If you’re not in the same city, practice with them on the phone or via video. But it’s important to meet with them and practice in your Branded Environment ASAP so they get a real feel for where they’ll be working.

3. Lean on the agency’s recommendations.

Event staffing agencies can be a great resource for recommendations. Let them know exactly what you’re looking for and the surrounding context so they can narrow down a large list of temps, making it easier to identify someone who’s best suited for the job. For example, they may have temps who have worked at your upcoming trade show before or who have worked in your industry—these aspects can help cut down training time and ensure they’ll perform as desired. Keep in mind it’s in the agency’s best interests to feed you the right people so you’ll come back again.

4. Establish good trade show booth staff etiquette.

Never assume all temps know how you want them to behave when manning your booth. Every client they have wants a different persona, so it’s important you set the tone before show day. Make it clear what type of clothing they should wear; ensure they know what type of language is appropriate and inappropriate; and inform them about any brand-specific sayings, taglines, or pronunciations. (The last thing you want is them saying your company name wrong!)

5. Hold an end-of-day meeting with your staff.

At the end of each day, it’s a standard best practice to get together with your staff and talk about how the day went. Identify both good and bad points that can help you modify your strategy and approach for the next day.

For example, it may have been louder on the show floor than expected, so you may need to change the speaking location or the volume of the mic to ensure booth visitors can hear. Here are a few post-trade show staff survey questions to get you started:

  • Did we bring enough people into the booth?
  • Were visitors engaged?
  • Was our message getting across to them?
  • Could people hear us out in the aisle and during the presentation?
  • Could people see the visuals from outside the booth?
  • What are ways we could improve our bring-in rate?

Scheduling Trade Show Staff

Trade Show Staff Schedule Template

You’ll need to keep up with a lot of people on show days, so it’s essential you have some kind of schedule so everyone knows where to be and when. The schedule is usually posted inside the storage room where everyone prepares to start their day, allowing them to review it before going to the trade show floor, but you’ll also want to keep a copy handy for reference.

Use the template below as a starting point to create a schedule of your own.

Trade show schedule

Need a trade show services partner that can help you with design and training? Reach out to us to talk about creating a uniquely customized space, and ensuring your trade show temps communicate your brand the right way.


Topics: Featured, Trade Show Tips