Introducing The Trade Show Charter

I recently manned a stand at a trade show in London and after a few hours of ‘people-watching’, it struck me that very few people seemed to be gaining much benefit. From a visitor’s point of view, they need to be inspired, educated and want to identify providers to meet a known requirement. Suppliers have a much simpler objective – leads!

Having been sold plenty of snake oil by the organisers, I considered the merits of a ‘show charter’ or etiquette that everyone should follow.

Suppliers, thou shalt…
1. Not employ the services of buxom ladies, who have no knowledge or allegiance to the cause. This tactic surely went out of fashion in the 70s?!
2. Allow people to read and digest information on your stand, free from hindrance or interruption by over-eager sales people.
3. Position representatives at the sides, allowing full view of the stand.
4. Listen to the visitors’ requirements carefully before launching into patter.
5. Not use mobile phones or eat food on the stand.
6. Not aimlessly collect visitor data without qualifying its provenance or purpose.
7. Not run business card competitions without having the sincerity to actually draw a winner!

Visitors, please remember…
1. Do not consider visiting a show if you have no idea of what you require. How can any supplier help you if you don’t help yourself?
2. Study the show guide before walking the aisles, it has been printed to help you get the most out of your day.
3. Use the opportunity to identify suppliers and learn from others, NOT a supermarket sweep of marketing collateral and gifts that are offered in good faith.
4. Do not pass the time of day by lazily asking what a supplier does. Read their material and study the information on-stand before deciding whether to find out more.
5. If you tender your contact details and show interest in the product or services on offer, expect to be called or emailed afterwards. It is courteous to respond, even in the negative.
6. Do NOT try to sell to stand-holders; they have paid to exhibit, have you?

In closing, I would also like to offer a word to the wise for organisers. You should look to provide the best possible event for both visitors and exhibitors, recognising their objectives to the exclusion of all else. Edicts on the charter include:
1. Take feedback sincerely and act upon it.
2. Immediately eject any visitor found trying to sell products or services to others.
3. Keep the re-booking salesmen off the stands until after the event.
4. Basic qualification of visitors to ensure they are bona fide and have a reason to attend.
5. Avoid placing large seminar rooms in the centre of the hall which create ‘dead’ areas.
6. Ensure seminar speakers are pursuing an educational agenda rather than hard sell.

by leet on 01/12/2014

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