Are the hookers doing their job?

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Got your attention? Good. I was recently asked if I would judge
the stands at Reed Exhibitions’ World Travel Market exhibition at Excel
London exhibition centre.
 
As I write about events all day every
day and visit many exhibitions as part of my job, I’ve seen my fair
share of the good, the bad and the ugly when it comes to exhibition
stands. And this year was no different.
 
My group of judges,
which included Tram Research’s Bill Richards, Whippet’s Carla Heath and
Travel Bloggers Unite’s Oliver Gradwell, were looking for eye catching
stands with unusual and creative designs, the best use of space
available, well planned stands which created a busy B2B atmosphere,
attentive and enthusiastic stand personnel and good use of features on
stands.
 
We unanimously managed to pick our winners, but what I learnt from the exhibition was interesting in itself.
 
As
you may expect in the current economic climate many businesses had
decided to ‘play-it-safe’ this year when it came to their stand. Some
used the same stand they have used time again at other travel industry
exhibitions, while others scaled back on space and stand personnel.
 
But
what surprised me most from my visit to the event was that many of the
stand personnel were doing nothing to entice me onto their stand. In
training terms, we refer to these personnel as ’hookers’. People whose
job it is to hook potential clients into conversation and get them off
the show floor and onto their stand to talk business.
 
The judges
and I walked the whole exhibition and looked at every single stand,
that’s over 600 stands, and you could count on one hand the amount of
stand personnel who hooked us into conversation. We tested this, too, by
standing right next to stand personnel and looking at brochures and
chatting to each other to see if anyone would engage with us.
 
I
left this year’s show with more questions than answers and wonder: are
companies training their staff well enough before sending them to
exhibit at these huge tradeshows? Are they getting the most out of
exhibiting and is the huge investment it costs, from flying their staff
over to purchasing their stand, paying off?
 
This year’s winners were:

  • Best Stand Design – Hungary
  • Best Stand for Doing Business – Peru
  • Best Stand Personnel – ByeBye
  • Best Stand Feature – Honduras
  • Most Innovative Stand within the Technology Region – Pure 360

Any comments? Email vcarley@mashmedia.net

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