How do feel good at first contact with an exhibition?

First impressions are decisive and determine success or failure at exhibitions too. Good exhibition stand staff has to be competent and be employed in accordance with job regulations. Then the exhibitor can approach the exhibition reassured. 

Photo: Amin Guellil
Photo: Amin Guellil

Amin Guellil
Managing Director 
UCM Hostess

The reception of visitors at the exhibition stand is the “key to the first contact”. It is a good idea to have a person just for this purpose “at the door”, making sure that no one goes “unaddressed”. After all, it is not very helpful when salespeople are looking around nervously during a talk with visitors to make sure they do not ignore any potential customers – thus turning off the truly interested ones. A bit of imagination helps in establishing contact. A real no-no sentence is the typical “Can I help you?” It is much more effective to offer the visitor a drink instead, so that she or he feels welcome and not harassed. 

Qualified stand personnel 
Many exhibitors do not have sufficient reception staff available of their own. Yet personal, human contact is still the decisive factor for a good presentation of the company. Hired exhibition staff greet guests in a friendly and polite manner, liaising between visitors and the firm’s staff. In addition, hostesses usually speak several languages and are thus able to communicate with foreign visitors. Whether or not a briefing before the begin of the exhibition is necessary depends on the complexity of the product, the service, or firm and makes sense particularly when there are large teams of numerous external employees such as hostesses, service staff, or product consultants. It helps all those involved to form a synchronised team before the beginning of the exhibition and to pursue a common goal. 

Qualified stand personnel act as intermediaries between visitors and staff members. (Photo: UCM)
Qualified stand personnel act as intermediaries between visitors and staff members. (Photo: UCM)

Legal booking 
Many exhibitors do not realise that hostesses and other stand personnel have to booked in a legal manner. Contrary to widespread practice, their employment is subject to income tax and social security obligations. Numerous agencies and Internet portals, unfortunately, still supply “service providers” via a trading license. Service personnel can thus seemingly be comfortably, simply, and cheaply booked in this manner. Since such staff is often only ostensibly self-employed, this can have dire consequences for the exhibitor (according to the German laws against undeclared work). Employers who are not aware of these legal subtleties can face problems. They can be threatened with fines from the authorities during corporate audits or subsequent demands from the hostesses. Even if the personnel is hired through an agency, the exhibitor is liable in any case, for the risks and consequences of ostensible self-employment are assumed solely by the employer. Moreover, customs officials often check even during the exhibition whether the exhibiting firm complies to the law or not. 

Early calculation 
Many prices such as for accommodation or food explode during exhibition periods. This often applies to stand personnel as well. You should compare offers for hostesses, service personnel, or catering. They help the exhibitor to acquire a differentiated overview of the prices to be expected. You should be careful with extremely low price offers, since such firms often save on legal conformity, for example in regard to hygiene regulations in food preparation and storage. Sufficient time has to be devoted to the selection process. On the other hand, when a firm takes too long in preparing offers this indicates faulty job processes among the service provider. The rule of thumb is that the exhibitor should have received all the price offers at least three months before the beginning of the exhibition. 

Digital booking process 
The digital transformation has also affected personnel booking. Increasingly improve tools exist for the booking process itself, such as custom booking, project, and staff software that can support the exhibitor, the stand personnel, and the agency. Good software makes transparent booking in real time possible. It is often a rescue solution, especially in last-minute hiring, for example when a permanent employee is sidelined. 

This article was published in TFI issue 3-4/2016


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