This article mainly relevant for European trade shows where are much less regulations and building restrictions to follow than at US shows. Second point is that European exhibitors tend to focus only on qualified leads and not to maximize the pure number of leads (not caring about quality) like in the US where you can often see the “badge scanneritis”.
In general your booth size will be defined by your set show objectives. To say it clear and frankly: if you don’t have clear, specific and measurable trade show objectives you should better stay away from the show and spend your funds for other marketing means or even for a private cruise with your family. In short:
No objectives = No success = Wasted money
The topics “show objectives” will be discussed in detail very soon within a separate post.
Determine your staff size
Your booth team size is primarily determined by one of your primary objectives, the expected or aimed number of qualified booth visitors and not by the attractiveness of the show hosting city.
For a serious first booth talk with a preliminary qualified visitor we calculate about 10 to 15 minutes on average. Within this time frame you must establish a preliminary personal relation to the attendee. You must grade him and investigate his real needs and requirements. And at the end you have to find a mutual agreement about the next steps to proceed after the show.
On a daily average each staff member can handle 3 visitor talks per hour. Now you take the daily show opening hours and deduct 1.5 hours of unproductive times for breaks and low frequented first and last thirty minutes of the show day. And here is your basic formula:
You must be aware that certain trade shows or conference exhibitions, where the attendee traffic is compressed to a few hours of the day, e.g. at conference events mainly during workshop or session break periods, needs an adjusted type of calculation. In such a case your staff must be increased accordingly to cover the peak times of the booth visitor traffic.
If you operate with a pre-schedule visitor appointment strategy it would make sense to schedule as many of those appointments as possible for the less busy time slots in the morning and late afternoon.
Calculate Your Perfect Booth Size
Don’t care too much about the booth sizes of your competitors. Often it’s a little dirty trick of the show sales representatives arguing with the larger booth sizes of competitors in order to sell you a larger booth than really needed. In some European shows new first time exhibitors will not get the demanded booth space in full or will be placed on a waiting list at first.
Just play your own game based on your set objectives. You have to maximize your success and not the organizer’s.
In former times European exhibitors on B2B shows had a strong preference to close the deals and sell their products directly on the booth. Those negotiations required closed meeting rooms with comfortable furniture, a comprehensive hospitality with strong catering, and a larger exhibit zone with a larger variety of products.
Nowadays the B2B trade show sales and communication strategies have changed significantly for many branches. In general attendees spent significantly less time on the show floor than five years ago. The trade shows are mainly places to meet personally and to achieve compulsory or mandatory after-show appointments for further negotiations. The focus is on generating new fresh qualified leads and not to sell the products directly.
Therefore you do not require anymore a larger number of meeting rooms and extensive hospitality, a larger number of high standing tables without chairs, one seating group with chairs, a small pantry with some basic catering and one single exhibit are highly sufficient.
Above you have already determined the required staff size. For each staff member AND visitor you have to calculate now at least 2 sqm each, this means in total 4 sqm (=43 sq. ft.) for one staff member and his visitor. Here is a calculation example for a four employee staff:
If you consider the above staff size sample calculation you would be able to generate 250 qualified fresh leads with a 28 sqm booth and a 4 people stand team within three show days.
Many exhibitors still book a much larger stand space than necessary and a costly customized booth construction with a sophisticated fancy design because they believe that this the right and sufficient basis for a big trade show success. And of course, many stand contractors support, promote and encourage this antiquated way of thinking because they think of their own profits at first.
But you have to accept the provable fact that only a large booth size is no success guarantee. You may be able to enforce your company image and brand visibility but you will not gain anymore the desired number of qualified fresh valuable leads and additional business. Times have definitely changed in Europe and elsewhere!
Today there are much better options and success proven strategies available to increase your show success, even with size-reduced but function optimized booth designs.
Successful state-of-the-art B2B stands do not really require large video walls, glittering illuminated floors, fancy interactive touch screen monitors and /or semi-nude booth babes.
But modern trade show booths do need a professionally trained, well educated, highly motivated, and engaged staff willing and able to “go the extra mile”.
You may look at your booth as the hardware which can only run smoothly and efficiently with the appropriate sophisticated and tested software. And that installed software is definitely your booth team!!
You should continuously invest some funds in the further development of your booth software, your extremely valuable stand team!
Cold Aisle Lead Generator
To a certain extent, your staff should also be able to move away from the “safe” booth space and dive into the ocean of by-walking attendees in the aisles, also a little away from your booth location. “Cold aisle lead generation” is a quite new but already very successful trade show floor face-to-face communictions strategy in Germany.
But in order to run this strategy properly your team will need the comprehensive on-site training and support of a highly skilled and specialized show floor face2face communications expert, like Michael Kolb from Fairbrain Germany.
His ingenious strategy as well as the limits and conditions will be described in detail including a cost effectiveness prove with real figures in my next post. Finally I want to mention that important parts of this content are based on German blog posts of Michael Kolb.