Vikki Carley

Vikki Carley
Deputy Editor Conference News

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6 Nov 12

Are the hookers doing their job?

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

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