It’s safe to say that we have all seen the exhibitor’s whose booth staff is doing everything BUT what we want them to do on the show floor. Everyone begins with the best of intentions of “having a good show” however it isn’t long before the staff is head-down on their phones checking email or social media. Maybe they’ve gathered around the reception desk and are recounting the activities of the opening night mixer. Or even worse – gulp – they’ve disappeared from the floor all together!

As a trade show manager it is sometimes difficult to keep a staff focused on their objectives and equally tough to keep them in that mind set over the course of the show.

Here are a few tips to try that will keep them humming when foot traffic isn’t:

1. A goal without a plan, is just a wish

Make a point to conduct a mandatory booth-staff session. Circulate an agenda ahead of time and include a time-slot for brainstorming on how best utilize slow times during a show. It is important to be clear about what’s expected of them both during the rush periods as well as the slower times.

2. A body in motion – stays in motion

Many exhibitors make a point to always be actively handling or running the equipment or products they are there to show case – it is often attention grabbing and it makes for an easy transition into a conversation with attendees. I once saw a maker of cat toys create a pyramid out of his products and when things were quiet he would disassemble and reassemble it – just to maintain activity in his booth – he said it worked wonders!

3. Send out a recon team

Send out a team to walk the floor and even have teams take turns each day. Take a look at other exhibits; is anyone else busy while your booth is quiet? What does your competition look like? Take photos and notes to share with the team. One group reported that all of the “action” was in the same hall as the New Product Pavilion and the trade show manager made a point to have their booth location changed the following year.

4. Reward the effort

Make a point to earnestly thank your staff at the end of each day. Let them know you recognize their efforts to maintain the right outlook during the times when they’d rather be anywhere but here! This type of thank-you can be a small token such bringing coffee to the booth each morning, or even a certificate for a free 20 minute foot massage at the hotel spa! Gratitude is a powerful tool that is often overlooked.

5. Lead by example

This very well may be the most important tip. All symphonies need a conductor, all teams need a coach, all boats need a lighthouse – you get the picture… One of my clients tells me his biggest task at the show is to make sure he puts his money where his mouth is and encourages the staff to keep him on task. For instance if he is caught on his smartphone while on the show floor that member gets to pick the restaurant for dinner that night!

Like most things in life, planning ahead of time for this is critical. Remind your team that trade shows or events are an important (and costly) activity for the company and that a successful outcome is obviously in everyone’s best interest. Inspire them before and during the show. Being a cheerleader may not have been included in your initial job description however it is what will make you – and your team – stand out from the crowd.