The Post-COVID Importance of Trade Show Exhibitor Education and Training

June 21, 2023

Richard Erschik

Richard Erschik is a successful exhibitor, service business founder and CEO. He has been a featured speaker, presenter and roundtable moderator at the EXHIBITOR show in Las Vegas for 18 years.

Face-to-face trade shows were fatally interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Many companies were forced to let go of their exhibit managers, and as a result, they are now filling that function with less experienced personnel. This has highlighted the need for exhibitor education and training of inexperienced personnel in a way that ultimately generates better quality leads that make their follow-up easier for the sales force.

Trade shows are generally a significant cost line item on a company’s marketing budget, and it is no longer cost-effective to simply show up and show off to exhibit. Most trade show-related services costs have also skyrocketed since the COVID-19 pandemic, and exhibiting cost-effectively has become a necessary strategy, not simply a repeated tactic.

Some trade show organizers are making exhibitor education and training part of their services package to exhibitors as a strategy for relationship building and retention. Progressive exhibiting companies are investing in exhibitor education and training for their entire marketing and sales teams, who are realizing that it’s no longer cost-effective or efficient to simply show up and show off at the show. 

Trade show booths are generally staffed with the company’s sales force, who have more things to do after the show than chasing after a bunch of nonproductive leads or names of people who just stopped by to pick up a pen. 

Exhibitor education and training are critical in the following three phases of exhibiting:

1.     Pre-show: Exhibitors need to know how to promote their company’s attendance in the show and not simply expect the show organizer to fill the aisles with customers. This requires knowledge of how to effectively use social media, email marketing and other promotional channels to attract potential visitors.

2.     During the show: Exhibitors need to know how to engage booth visitors and qualify their purchase potential. It’s no longer enough to stand around and wait for buyers to come to you. Booth staff must learn how to actively engage booth visitors and ask qualifying questions that identify and move potential buyers forward in the sales process.  

3.     Post-show: Exhibitors need to know an alternative sales lead response process that assures 100% lead follow-up and ROI. It is no longer enough to hand the leads over to the sales force and hope for the best. The marketing department can and should effectively respond to and follow up on leads to ensure maximum ROI.

In addition to the three phases of exhibiting, exhibitor education and training should also take into consideration the relationships established with key trade show organizers and general contractors. These relationships may have been lost when seasoned exhibit managers were let go. Therefore, knowing who to talk to and what to say has become critical in saving money on the trade show floor.

In conclusion, exhibitor education and training have become increasingly important in the emerging trade show landscape. As businesses continue to navigate challenges, it is critical that they invest in the training and education of their exhibiting personnel. By doing so, they can increase their chances of success, lower their costs and build stronger relationships with trade show service partners.

Don’t miss any event-related news: Sign up for our weekly e-newsletter HERE, listen to our latest podcast HERE and engage with us on TwitterFacebook and LinkedIn!

Add new comment

Partner Voices
Overview: The award-winning Orange County Convention Center (OCCC) goes the extra mile to make every day extraordinary by offering customer service excellence and industry-leading partnerships. From their dedicated in-house Rigging team to their robust Exhibitor Services, The Center of Hospitality brings your imagination to life by helping you host unforgettable meetings and events. With more than 2 million square feet of exhibit space, world-class services and a dream destination, we are committed to making even the most ambitious conventions a reality. In October 2023, the Orange County Board of County Commissioners voted to approve allocating Tourist Development Tax funding for the $560 million Phase 5A completion of the OCCC. The Convention Way Grand Concourse project will include enhancements to the North-South Building, featuring an additional 60,000 square feet of meeting space, an 80,000- square-foot ballroom and new entry to the North-South Building along Convention Way. “We are thrilled to begin work on completing our North-South Building which will allow us to meet the growing needs of our clients,” said OCCC Executive Director Mark Tester. “As an economic driver for the community, this project will provide the Center with connectivity and meeting space to host more events and continue to infuse the local economy with new money and expanding business opportunities.” Amenities: The Center of Hospitality goes above and beyond by offering world-class customer service and industry-leading partnerships. From the largest convention center Wi-Fi network to custom LAN/WAN design, the Center takes pride in enhancing exhibitor and customer experience.  The OCCC is the exclusive provider of electricity (24-hour power at no additional cost), aerial rigging and lighting, water, natural gas and propane, compressed air, and cable TV services. Convenience The Center is at the epicenter of the destination, with an abundance of hotels, restaurants, and attractions within walking distance. Pedestrian bridges connect both buildings to more than 5,200 rooms and is within a 15-minute drive from the Orlando International Airport. The convenience of the location goes hand-in-hand with top notch service to help meet an event’s every need. Gold Key Members The OCCC’s Gold Key Members represent the best of the best when it comes to exceptional service and exclusive benefits for clients, exhibitors and guests. The Center’s Gold Key memberships with Universal Orlando Resort, SeaWorld Orlando and Walt Disney World greatly enhance meeting planner and attendee experiences offering world-renowned venues, immersive experiences and creative resources for their events. OCCC Events: This fiscal year, the OCCC is projected to host 168 events, 1.7 million attendees, and $2.9 billion in economic impact.  The Center’s top five events during their 2022-2023 fiscal year included:  AAU Jr. National Volleyball Championships 2023 200,000 Attendees $257 Million in Economic Impact MEGACON 2023 160,000 Attendees $205 Million in Economic Impact Open Championship Series 2023 69,500 Attendees $89 Million in Economic Impact Sunshine Classic 2023 42,000 Attendees $54 Million in Economic Impact Premiere Orlando 2023 42,000 Attendees $108 Million in Economic Impact