The Do’s and Don’ts of Booth Duty
Your booth team makes or breaks your entire event strategy! If they’re not equipped to be successful, or set up with the rules of the road, then you’ve wasted your time, effort and budget,this is compounded if you’re a start up.
During the event, it’s you and your team of magical pugs who are the first point of interaction with your organisation, your product, and your company culture. Making it a good first time in person memorable experience usually leads to more meaningful conversations down the road. (You know, what the marketing people call engagement. 🙂
Your amazing colleagues role is to create and establish a relationship, they’ll follow up via email, maybe arrange a Lunch and Learn at a company office, or just speak more to folks about their individual interests.
Still, if you’re new to setting up a conference presence ,or being a booth amazing pug, you may not know the do’s and don’ts of booth duty. If you’re a busy events human at new start up or just a busy human you may want to copy this list to start from while you’re prepping for your next show.
So here we go …
Here are some best practices and guidelines to follow when preparing for conference season and booth duty!
Before the event:
- Best practice: It’s useful, but not always possible to have a briefing call before the event so all the team members know what’s happening.
- Always: Create an Event Briefing Document. It should have all relevant details: event date, location, booth number, event themes, key messages for your company, booth staffer list with contact details, and a list of items to expect on your booth. Bonus points if you add the tracking numbers of your swag shipments or items being delivered to your booth. You know at some point you’re going to have to call FedEx. Or DHL. Or ….
- Get a good night’s sleep before the conference starts and throughout the event.I know there are often many social events going on the day before you have to stand for 8 hours straight, so try and not make it a late one. You need to be fresh, lively and ready to interface with the people who’ve taken the time to stop by! And remind your magical pugs to do the same in your pre-briefing call. 😉
At the event!
Allow enough time: We are all busy but we must allow enough time to do each event properly. For example, arrive the evening before rather than the morning of the conference. Things often go wrong; let’s give ourselves enough time to fix a delayed flight or lost bag of cables.
Be punctual!Show up way before the attendees. Remember, you’re on duty as a representative of your organisation, so you should be on the show floor 30 mins before it opens for a final briefing and to find out where everything is.
Demos: The demo Gods can be cruel. Check your display each morning to make sure it (still) works.
Dress code: We live in the world of Insta we are professionals., Figure out if your organisation has a preferred way dress code for an event, e.g. if there is a specific t-shirt that needs to be worn for a launch. Trust me when I say this, wear comfortable shoes, I’d go as far as to say bring alternative shoes for different days. Standing is difficult, make it easier on your little twinkle toes!
Be prepared: If you are in charge of a demo, make sure the laptop is set up and ready the day before, turning up to the event to get it setup or installed is not a good use of your time. Make sure the laptop is charged the night before. Bring your charger with you, not everyone has the same connector and an adaptor if you’re travelling in a different country to be on the safe side!
Avoid eating at the booth, or holding extended conversations with coworkers. It is only human nature not to be rude and want to interrupt peoplomes across like you don’t want to be interrupted. Instead allow for people to leave the booth to go and grab food, just also try and understand you may not get your usual full hour for lunch during a busy conference.
Avoid sitting behind the desks at booth duty — people won’t engage with you if they think you’re working. Do not sit there with your laptop open and working. Your role at these events is to talk to people, there is nothing worse than walking past a booth at a conference, stop to look at it’s messaging and seeing people on their laptops working. Most will continue to walk on, you’ve now lost an opportunity to talk to someone.
Be courteous: there’s always one person who wants to spark a debate that may not be the best place for this to happen. Prepare a disengagement line or two. The best one is “thanks for stopping by, I’m sorry I couldn’t help but if you let me pass your details on to someone who can help you”… or “how would you like me to follow up?”
Take notes. There are so many people and so little time. Brief notes will help you to be more effective with your follow-up. Most of the time you will have some sort of scanning tool, either your phone or a device that has been given to you. There should be a note ability on here, take notes it’s useful for following up. If not, use contact cards or something like notes, or evening opening up a blank email to send to yourself.
Stay upbeat It’s easy to get discouraged when person after person walks by your booth seemingly without a glance in your direction. Even if you go with the best booth out there, this will happen sometimes. The key is staying motivated and remaining approachable. Look for opportunities to engage with passers-by, even if they don’t initiate a conversation. Try and make the first move and engage with people, draw them in by asking them have you heard of Couchbase, or if we’re running a competition ask them have they entered. Booths are hard work, social interaction is hard work: that’s the job we have.
Stay refreshed. Let workers take turns going on a break, either for a brisk walk around the venue to get some oxygen, or a relaxing sit down at the snack bar. Fresh workers bring more liveliness into their presentations and encounters, and people will respond better.
This one causes a debate depending on your role or the size of your team and organisation. No sessions. Being on booth duty and at a conference does not mean you are there to go to sessions. In most cases the sponsorship will not cover attendance to talks. Your role at the event is to be on the booth and not sitting in lecture rooms.
Know Your Stuff. Grab Their Attention Fast. You will only have a few seconds to capture attendees’ attention in the midst of all the other lights, sounds, and happenings at the event.
Social Media: Use it, it can help drive people to you booth, to let them know what you have to offer, if you have demos going on, raffles or if you have a guest to meet on the booth.
Tweet pictures using you conference and product tag if you have one and the event hashtag. Work with your social medial team before the event to schedule tweets encouraging people to stop by your booth or attend a talk you are presenting.
I hope this list helps, it’s definitely not a definitive list but it can certainly help you starting out!