Should You Hire Temp Staff for Your Expo Displays?

We talk quite a bit about different ways you might save money on your expo displays, including various options for outsourcing, but here’s one that might not have occurred to you: hiring temp staff, rather than transporting your own staff.

Increasing numbers of staffing agencies are now supplying workers for trade shows, specifically, creating an interesting opportunity to cut costs on your next exposition

Now, this isn’t an option for everyone, as it has some significant advantages and drawbacks. However, for those who tend to do several trade shows a year and take along a large staff, the financial benefits could ultimately outweigh the downsides.

So, let’s take a look at the practice, and how it might help – or hinder – your trade show appearances in 2020!

Temporary Staff At Trade Shows – How It Works

From the standpoint of a company looking to hire these staff, the process is simple. You contact an agency, and tell them what dates and cities you need staff for. They’ll send over a package of employee profiles, allowing you to select who you want based on looks, experience, or temperament.

These firms can also include training, based on packages you send over, giving your new temp staff adequate background on your branding, products, and policies.

The result is that, from your office, you can arrange to have an entire team of staff ready and waiting to go when the trade show begins, at least in theory. So, from a managerial standpoint, you’re already ahead.

Either way, if you already know you want temp workers, it’s definitely better to go through an agency, since they’re going to be familiar with state-by-state hiring laws. Trying to hire yourself for an out-of-state event can quickly open you up to liability unless you’ve got a team of lawyers doing research.

The Benefits Of Hiring Trade Show Staffing Agencies

1 – Money

The biggest and most obvious benefit are the cost savings. When compared to the costs associated with flying an entire team around the country, along with lodging and feeding them, you can end up saving a lot of money on your promotional budget by hiring local workers. All you end up paying them is their hourly wage, plus the agency’s cut.

2 – Relevant Trade Show Sales Experience

The people who work for agencies that handle trade show staffing, as you might expect, spend a lot of time staffing exhibition displays. These are people who are used to the lights and glitter and noise of a trade show, so they aren’t going to get dazzled or distracted by the experience of being at the show. This can make them a key aspect of your own winning trade booth staff.

Similarly, that extra experience may pay off when it comes to greeting and engaging visitors at your booth. They’ll have more time put in, and more learned skills, for how to get people interested in an exhibition’s wares.

3 – Novelty Acts

From professional models to spandex-clad superheroes to juggling mimes – if you want a novelty act hanging around your expo displays to create interest, a staffing agency is definitely the best way to go. They’ll have the contacts and experience necessary to hire the right people for these sorts of roles, something most average managers and owners probably haven’t done before.

Now, whether these sorts of acts are worth the money is a highly subjective matter, but there’s no doubt that they help attract attention and floor traffic. Given the right combination of company, product, and act they can even help enhance your message.

4 – Attractiveness

This is a morally murky area, so we won’t dwell on it too long, but let’s be honest: pretty people generally sell more stuff. If most of your product team has spent the past year locked in your R&D labs away from the sun, it might be worth thinking about hiring temp workers with a particular look that better suits your products or messaging – especially if that “look” relates to your products!VK-1512 Perfect 10 portable trade show display with tension fabric graphics and curved frame and kiosks

The Drawbacks To Staffing Your Booth With Temps

1 – Unfamiliarity With Your Products

We complain quite a bit about companies sending under-trained staff to trade shows, and the practice of hiring local temps is almost certainly a big part of that. Even with a robust training package, they’re never going to be as familiar with your products as people from your own company.

This problem also only increases as the complexity of your products grows, so think carefully – are you selling something that a person could reasonably learn well enough to sell within a day or two? If not, temps could be more damaging than helpful, unless they’re backed up by some of your seasoned staffers.

2 – Internal Morale Problems

If your team is used to going to your trade shows, a sudden switch to using temps can cause a lot of internal upset. After all, for all the work, heading out to trade shows is fun too. Yanking that away from a team is going to cause at least some hurt feelings, so that’s something you’d have to be prepared for.

3 – Unavailability For Customers

Another issue crops up when you have leads who want to follow up and continue the conversation with that nice person they met while visiting your expo displays. If your workers were temps, you have to be prepared to explain that they were part of your show staff, or a temporary service – this may not make them happy, but lies are going to sound shallow or be easily exposed.

While not a huge issue in the grand scheme, it’s certainly uncomfortable when it happens and can end up losing qualified leads. This is why bringing your own team can be more successful.

4 – Management Distancing

You lose a lot of personal power when going through a temp staffing firm for your trade show displays. These are people you’ve never met before and, chances are, will never see again after the show ends. And they are quite familiar with this dynamic.

You’re simply not going to be able to manage temporary newcomers as effectively as your own hand-picked team who will be seeing you again on Monday morning.

So if you’re happy hiring a group of trade show sales experts and letting them do their thing, this can work out well for everyone. If you want to be more hands-on with your management, personality conflicts and such can easily pop up, given the thrown-together nature of the staff.

Types of Temp Staff for Expo Displays

Before you hire any temp staff for the next trade show and expo display, you should make sure they can effectively fulfill the tasks. Below you will find some of the more common roles taken on by temporary staffers in a trade show and exhibit display capacity.

Host or Hostess

These are the temporary staffers that promote your brand. These temporary positions draw attention to your booth, hand out promotional materials, and assist with anything else you may need.

Product Demonstrators

If you need someone skilled in public speaking to demonstrate your products or services, then this is the type of staffer you need. They can offer valuable product information while performing demonstrations of what your brand has to offer.

Lead Generators

These are the people that ask questions and do the digging to find the best possible leads. They also record data and make sure to pass on the information to the most qualified attendees.

Sales Assistants

These staffers are trained in specific areas; however, they may not be able to fulfill demonstrations for your exhibit. Instead, they can answer basic questions, write orders, and make sure key people are available for demos when needed.

Selecting Temporary Staffers for Your Expo Displays

No matter what you need temporary staff for, you need to ensure that they can follow through with a professional demeanor and attitude and follow the behavior that is in line with the culture of your company and brand. You can request resumes for each staffer along with a photo portfolio, so you can make sure who you hire has the right look for your brand.

You can also choose to ask for testimonials or references for the temporary worker you are considering so you can determine their work ethic. They should be punctual, reliable, professional, and willing to be held accountable for the work they do.

Training and Preparation

Once you have hired your temporary staff, it is time to make sure they are trained and prepared for the upcoming expo display and trade show. They should be given a detailed explanation of what you are doing and what is expected of them.

They should be well aware of and understand the mission, goal, and target audience of your company. Temporary staff should also be familiar with your products and your key sales message.

Trade Show Staffing Firms – A Good Deal, Sometimes

The short version is, there’s no simple “yes” or “no” as to whether temp staff will be appropriate for your trade show display. There are undoubted cost savings benefits for companies that do a lot of exhibitions in a year, but in some cases the drawbacks may ultimately exceed the benefits.

If your products are relatively simple, or rely on looks more than technical details for their sales, temp staff will probably work out well if you pick the right firm. (And there are plenty, so choose carefully!)

For more complex products, or situations that require extensive hands-on work with your clients, you’re probably going to be better off bringing your own team, or at least supplementing a temp crew with some seasoned staffers, so that they can handle any discussions or questions that need more experience.

Indeed, that may be the best solution – use temp staffers for their skills – meeting and greeting and qualifying visitors – and then have those temps forward qualified prospects with more involved questions to your internal sales team.

Have any of you worked with temporary staff at your trade show appearances? Why don’t you let us know how it went in the comments!

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