Trade show etiquette: you would think these following observations would be common sense, but apparently not to everyone. As industry members and exhibitors at numerous trade shows throughout the year I have observed or been “victim” to some of the incidents mentioned below and I’m sure some of the other industry people reading this can also relate their own stories. These are not the norm, but they do happen every year at one show or another. …and why they still surprise me after 12 years of trade shows, I have no idea.
At one of our larger shows I came on the floor early, before the show is open to the dealers. The aisles are deserted and quiet except for the distant vacuum running at some unknown booth. I am still a good distance from our booth but can see the corner of it down the end of the aisle. Someone comes around the corner and walks into our booth. Not a problem….I finally get down there and walk into the booth and it is our competitor with our product in hand, checking it out. Upon seeing me, and I his logoed shirt, he doesn’t say a word to me, puts the product down turns and walks out. Hello…I’m about 6″ from you….at least an awkward acknowledgement of my presence would have been good. Now there is nothing wrong with checking out the competition, and nothing on display that would justify worthy of what I term “industrial spying.” So my point is instead of sneaking around before or after show hours, be up front about it, come in and visit our booth, ask questions even, we’d be happy to talk to you. After all, we are all in the industry, making a living the same as you are.
The same goes for product that goes missing after hours. It’s not about the dollar amount, it’s the principal of the matter. I’m not saying this is by competitors necessarily. But when recently at a smaller Distributor show I had another smaller competitor checking out our product during set up and I was “incognito” helping the reps at an adjacent booth. Darned if the next morning before first day of show opening, I come in and there hangs an empty peg! Gee, maybe had he lifted the peg too, it at least may not have been so obvious…..
We’ve had packages mangled by people trying to get, I don’t know, some replacement parts from the package. Had they simply asked I would’ve given free replacement parts for what they apparently so desperately needed. I’d save them the time and effort it took for them to destroy my sample packages there for display purposes!
As an exhibitor, don’t try to schmooze freebies from other exhibitors. Lots of exhibitors while visiting others’ booths sample items, etc. If they are offered, fine, but don’t go around with your hand out with that intent. That just makes you look cheesy in my opinion.
Act professionally. How you present yourself , not just in dress but in actions, reflects on your company. The show hours can be long and hard on your feet….and we all get exhausted. An adjoining booth had couches and plush side chairs and I glanced over to see a younger rep dressed in a very nice suit, for their company lounging sideways with his legs thrown up over the arm….just kicking back texting away on his cell phone.
Be considerate of your colleagues working the show with you. We all work hard and after show hours some of us play hard, some harder than others. Provided you aren’t meeting with customers for dinner, etc. after the show, that is your time. But make sure you “answer the bell” in the morning.
Think about the image you are projecting when hiring local help….cough, sputter…. ummm especially in Vegas. Yes, I’m referring to “booth girls” Vegas style. I understand having attractive girls handing out your literature but…when they are obviously not dressed appropriately, (and that was putting it mildly in this instance), and honestly I don’t think they added to their business conducted at the show. I mean really…. ? If you do employ them, at least have the courtesy to keep them in your booth. We had a booth across from us and the girls were in the aisles, almost in our booth, and I did not want anyone mistakenly thinking we had hired them. AHHH!
Lasers have become quite popular in the industry, whether on guns or tactical flashlights or affixed to scopes. Yankee that I am, I found myself at my first trade show solo in the Southeast. Mid-day I look down to see a laser aiming on my chest. I’m thinking that isn’t cool at all. The much older gentleman in the booth across the aisle is giggling. I jokingly told him that wasn’t too funny, don’t be doing that. The guy did it again about an hour later and kept chuckling. He was amused…me, not so much. Ok the third time it happened, I calmly walked over there and told him quietly if he didn’t stop that “I’m going to open up a can of whoop a– on you…and I’m pretty sure I can take you too!” I figured he might understand that language. It seemed to do the trick.
In hind sight you have to laugh at some of these things and others you have to just shake your head in disbelief. I’m sure we all have horror stories or pet peeves from the road to share. Just remember to treat fellow exhibitors and colleagues the way you would like to be treated. A little common sense and decency goes a long way.