The question, “Which low-tech activity do you want to see make a comeback at events?”, was posted by Ian Zelaya of BizBash. Here’s my colleague’s, Candy Adams, response. It’s worth the time to read it!
Thanks for circling back to me on my response to your question, “Which low-tech activity do you want to see make a comeback at events?” to which I answered, “The art of conversation, not texting and hiding behind social media!”
I’m passionate about having my exhibit staff attuned to the needs and wants of our booth visitors, and see so many staff totally lacking in the art of conversation. It’s like they’re scared to talk with people, for fear that they may ask them something they can’t answer! (Don’t even get me started on exhibitors who hide behind a table they’ve turned into a barrier, are on their phone or laptop, or eating, or reading and totally ignore the attendees swarming the aisles past their exhibit and avoid even trying to make eye contact or engage prospects in conversation.)
As someone who’s been in the trade show business of face-to-face exhibitor/attendee contact for 20 years, I’ve witnessed the demise of human interaction – supposedly why buyers still attend trade shows is to meet with potential vendors, employees, and their peers – over the technology available to do pre-purchase research online. Anyone can jump on the Internet on an exhibitor’s website and get basic answers to their questions about products or services, but there’s something about actually seeing the product, touching and trying the product, and talking with someone who’s familiar with its applications, nuances and benefits that you just won’t get from a website. Where else can you compare a number of competitive products – and rate those experiences after conversing with their booth staffs – but at a trade show? (And 6 weeks after a show’s over, surveys have shown that booth visitors have long since forgotten your exhibit, but remember their experience and how your staff made them feel.) I’ve been hearing for 20 years that virtual (online) trade shows were going replace F2F ones, and it hasn’t happened yet! We still prefer human contact and conversation when making a buying decision.
I know of a company who’s actually marketing a technology kiosk so show attendees can upload all their collateral, demos and request for follow-up information without even talking with exhibit staff. Although I can see the need for this product in an overflow situation when all your exhibit staff are engaged with attendees, I’m hoping that this technology will be used to supplement, rather than replace, human interaction.
I’m also saddened to see attendees walking the show floor aisles with their noses buried in their smartphones, totally oblivious to the exhibitors attempting to make eye contact with them to share their product offerings and knowledge. It’s definitely impacting the one-on-one dynamics of shows as exhibitors seem to be sending fewer staff to deal with their walk-by traffic.
I do a lot of exhibit staff training in what I call boothmanship skills (how to professionally engage attendees with effective and efficient greetings and elevator speeches, qualifying questions, active listening, efficient demonstrations, accurate recording of follow-up information and efficient dismissal) but find that the companies want me to teach these face-to-face skills via webinar, with no person-to-person role playing involved, which is still not fulfilling the need to get the exhibit staff comfortable and efficient in this professional multi-step process. (Time is any exhibitor’s biggest competitor, whether they acknowledge it or not, since there are a limited number of minutes to interface with the greatest number of prospects.)
Sadly, a very small percentage of exhibitors do a comprehensive on-site training that includes an overview of strategic show goals and objectives, an overview of products displayed and their benefits/features/availability/pricing/specials, etc., boothmanship skills with role playing exercises, and in-booth orientation that lets them hit the ground running on all the “props” in the booth i.e. demos, graphics, badge scanning systems, collateral and giveaways, etc. After spending tens of thousands of dollars on the exhibit (the “stage”), they forget to budget time and money to get their “actors” up to speed on their “scripts” by not planning a “rehearsal”. It’s such a waste of productivity…
I’m “Candy Adams, CTSM, CEM, CMP, CMM, The Booth Mom®”, at CandyAdams@BoothMom.com, and list my web site (which was hacked yesterday and infected with a virus so I’ve temporarily pulled it down today pending scrubbing it) at www.BoothMom.com.