Trade Show Labor: Hiring I&D Labor & Booth Staff

Sarah Leung
February 24, 2016

Do you find yourself needing a few extra hands at trade shows? Perhaps you need help with installing and dismantling your booth. Or maybe you’re looking for actual staffers to man your booth and qualify prospects to maximize your time on the trade show floor. Whatever you need, there are trade show labor resources out there that can help. Let’s go over some of the options.

Trade Show Labor for Installation & Dismantle: General Contractors vs. Exhibitor-Appointed Contractors

If you’re looking for help with the technical work of installing and dismantling your booth, you have a couple of possible routes to take. You could hire a general contractor, or an exhibitor-appointed contractor. General contractors are generally trade show labor companies hired by show management to provide trade show labor for exhibitors, as well as for the overall show. These general contractors can help you set up your booth, though it’s important to note that because they are hired by the show staff and are probably not at all familiar with your booth’s design, they will need significant supervision to ensure that your booth is assembled properly, with minimum damage. An Exhibitor-Appointed Contractor (EAC), on the other hand, is an independent company with the right to provide labor services within a convention center. They can help you install and & dismantle your booth, and the benefit is that if you decide to use the same EAC for multiple shows, they will eventually become more familiar with you and your booth. Because an EAC is more invested in maintaining a long-term relationship with you as a client, they will generally make an effort to plan ahead to ensure that your booth is properly set up at the beginning of the show and packed properly when the show is over. Plus, things will only get easier over time. Another point to consider is that EACs tend to provide more skilled labor, by virtue of the fact that they have steadier, more consistent work than GC staff, who are often hired on a part-time basis.

Temporary Booth Staffing: What Are Your Choices?

After considering who will help you set up and dismantle your booth, it’s time to consider whether or not you need help throughout the show itself. Temporary booth staff can be a great trade show labor resource, especially if you have a small team or simply need seasoned professionals who are experts at engaging trade show attendees and qualifying prospects. Using temporary booth staff can also help your internal team spend less time in the aisles to bring people in, and more time having strategic conversations with customers and qualified prospects. So what kinds of temporary staffing are out there?

1. Brand Ambassador or Booth Host/Hostess:

An option if you’re looking for someone to help manage relatively minor tasks (scanning badges, refilling samples and promotional materials, etc.). These kinds of staffers generally know little about your brand and products.

2. Trade Show Presenters/MCs:

Trade show presenters are experienced professionals who can provide polished product demos, host game shows, give brand presentations, and more. Their main purpose is to attract attendees and help you generate leads.

3. Lead Generators:

A spin-off of the previous category, these are booth staffers that have learned about your products and brand in advance of the show. They are in the aisles at the edge of your booth, engaging attendees, and focused on qualifying leads that they can then pass on to your salespeople for further conversation. Depending on your business’s needs at trade shows, you may choose to hire one or more of these kinds of staff. The trade show environment can be intimidating, and having seasoned professionals help you engage attendees can be a huge help, especially for first-time exhibitors. What kind of staffing do you have at trade shows? We’d love to hear more in the comments!