The Lost Art of Event Etiquette

I’ve been to a lot of events — trade shows, expos, career fairs, et cetera — both as an exhibitor and as an attendee. And inevitably, at some point during the event, I witness behaviour that makes me wonder, why are you even here?

It always confounds me why some companies will spend a small fortune to have a presence at an event (once you add up the cost of the space, the display itself — those fancy zap panels and signage don’t come cheap — the swag for giveaways) and then send unprepared or inexperienced staff to man the booth. Too often, the people representing the company fall into one of two camps:

  • super-aggressive and pushy – stopping everyone who walks by, forcing brochures into their hands, making everyone uncomfortable;
  • completely withdrawn and anti-social – sitting at the back of the booth, arms crossed and frowning (often without realizing it), eyes glued to their phone.

I wish more companies would think about the message they want to project, and realize that it’s often the ineffectual behaviours of their staff that create the lasting impression of their organization.

Forcing brochures or swag upon people who don’t want it is both inconsiderate and wasteful of resources (both the paper and the money you or your company spent on it) — why force it into the hands of someone who doesn’t want it and is just going to throw it out as soon as they’re out of your sight?

One of the worst booth sins is ignorance of the very thing you’re there to promote. At the recent EAT! Vancouver festival, I asked one exhibitor what I thought was a pretty straightforward question: what are the ingredients? She couldn’t tell me. Would I be able to find the ingredients on their website? She didn’t think so. Sigh.

What’s your event booth pet peeve?

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About Erin

Bookworm, word nerd, grammar geek. Small town girl, living in a lonely world. Running a race-per-month in 2013.
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