If your sales staff is groaning about the number of trade shows you’ve committed them to, you may be tempted to give your salespeople a break by hiring temporary trade show staffers. Having extra helpers to distribute information or direct traffic can seem like a huge benefit, but beware the potential pitfalls of hiring outsiders.

Why Companies Use Trade Show Temps

Truth is, not every salesperson performs well on the trade show floor. Depending on his/her sales personality type, some do their best work on the phone or in one-on-one situations. Even those who revel in the often chaotic, sensory-overloaded trade show environment can’t perform at their highest level if you’ve got them booked for back-to-back shows. Hiring temporary trade show staff allows you to save your best people for the most important shows, giving them time to refresh and follow up on recent leads in between events.
In addition, flying your entire sales staff around the country five or six times a year can get really expensive. But by hiring locally-based trade show temps to take on some of the simple tasks, you reduce your T&E expense, which in turn improves your overall trade show ROI.

Temporary Trade Show Staffing Roles

Which activities could a temporary professional do at a trade show that would free up your salespeople to actually work more prospects? Probably a lot more than you might imagine!
Here’s a list of temporary trade show staffing positions from TradeShowTemps.net:

  • Badge Printer Clerks
  • Bonded Cashiers
  • Booth Hosts & Sales Assistants
  • Booth Models
  • Conference Assistants
  • Exhibit Booth Sales Office Assistants
  • Experienced Professional Supervisors
  • Greeters
  • Hosts/Hostesses
  • Floor Managers
  • Information Desk Hosts
  • Lead Retrieval Clerks
  • Line Monitors
  • Materials Distribution
  • Registration Managers
  • Registration Typists & Clerks
  • Room Monitors
  • Sales Personnel
  • Show Management
  • Show Office Assistants
  • Speaker/VIP/Press Room Assistants
  • Translators

Pitfalls to Avoid When Hiring Temporary Trade Show Staff

As you can see, temporary trade show staffers can be hired for almost any task — from greeting guests to giving full-blown presentations or product demonstrations — but in order to host a successful event and make a good impression on prospects, be sure to avoid the many pitfalls associated with hiring temps.

Pitfall #1: Overestimating a Temp’s Abilities and Skills

When hiring temporary trade show staff, it’s important to be very specific about what you want from each person. You can’t necessarily expect a hostess to also work as a lead generator, or a lead generator to also work as a presenter, etc.
Trade show temps have specialized skills based on their career backgrounds and previous experience. Don’t make the mistake of expecting a trade show temp to be able to wear multiple hats or “fill in” last minute for another temp in a different role.

Pitfall #2: Trying to Hire a Temp Team on Your Own

Just because you happen to have a branch office or a territory rep located in Chicago doesn’t mean you’ll have the time or legal knowledge to be able to recruit your own team of trade show temps from out-of-state in time for that upcoming Chicago show.
Trust the professionals and hire an actual agency instead. They’re already familiar with the hiring and liability laws for that particular state PLUS they have a roster of experienced temps who already know the trade show ropes. You can start by doing an Internet search for “trade show staffing agencies” plus the city where your next event is located.

Pitfall #3: Making Assumptions about a Temp’s Attire

When it comes to booth staffer clothing, it’s best to show AND tell. We’ve all heard far too many exhibitor horror stories about the different types of inappropriate attire that booth staffers sometimes show up to an event in. Don’t just assume that your temps know how to dress or what they’re expected to wear.
Take some time to gather photos of appropriate clothing — either from a catalog or from previous trade show events. Or better yet, provide t-shirts or button-down shirts for a consistent look and easy staff recognition on the part of passersby.

Pitfall #4: Relying Solely on Temp Staff

While it’s true that temporary trade show staffers can take on quite a variety of roles, don’t make the mistake of relying 100% on a temp team to run your next out-of-town exhibit. Depending on your booth size and staffing needs, you’ll still need to send a small crew of your more seasoned sales veterans to the event to answer technical questions, entertain prospects, work up formal sales quotes, etc.
Ideally, you’ll want to have a nice mix of both trade show temps and regular staff on-hand to be able to meet all of your prospects’ expectations and present your brand in the best light possible.

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