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The Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) has issued a new report providing fresh insight into attendee preferences, whom they hope to meet and the characteristics of exhibit staff that best resonates with them.


“Attendees regard exhibit staff as the face of the company. It is their chance to engage face-to-face with the people behind an organization and brand,” said Nancy Drapeau, research director, CEIR. “This human interaction gives exhibitors the unique chance to make a powerful connection that can translate into new business for their long-term success. Having staff with the right job functions, level of experience and demeanor is key to positioning an exhibiting organization for success.”

The report is part of a series from CEIR examining The Role and Value of Face-to-Face Interaction Study Series entitled “Exhibition Staff Practice Summaries.” Exhibitor practices are compared with attendee preferences, providing a useful industry benchmark tool to assist exhibitors in planning their exhibit-staffing approach and providing insights to help exhibitors prioritize where to focus.

This new report is a companion to the last report CEIR released from this series, Purchase Process and Customer Relationships. Results of the earlier report highlight the critical role exhibit staff can play in shaping a positive experience with and image of their companies. That study revealed that the majority of attendees prefer one-on-one interaction with exhibit personnel for face-to-face interaction. It also confirms the face-to-face interaction at exhibitions is very important at specific points in the purchase process.

Other noteworthy findings include:

• One of the top-ranked attributes attendees look for in exhibitor staff is knowledge about the company’s product or solution (94 percent).
• The sales/marketing job function typically represented among exhibit booth staff is well aligned with attendee preferences. Some 56 percent of attendees indicated a preference for meeting with exhibit staff working in this capacity.
• The report does reveal a gap between attendee preferences and exhibitor staffing, an opportunity for exhibitors to seize. One-half of attendees hope to meet research and development staff while only 3 percent of exhibitors on average make this staff available. Exhibitors might be missing an opportunity to capture market feedback that could lead to product enhancements or new offerings.

The report provides findings on other exhibit staff characteristics, trends on number of staffing and plans for the near-term future. It also evaluates exhibit staff training practices. The ongoing study series examines the long-term value of face-to-face marketing and exhibitions, particularly in light of major economic fluctuations and the influx of technology and alternative-marketing tactics, including digital media. More than 9,000 attendees and 800 exhibitors participated in this initiative. The study was made possible by a grant from the Exhibition Industry Foundation.

CEIR serves to advance the growth, awareness and value of exhibitions and other face-to-face marketing events by producing and delivering knowledge-based research tools that enable stakeholder organizations to enhance their ability to meet current and emerging customer needs, improve their business performance and strengthen their competitive position.

 

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