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booth Staffing
Q.
Company brass doesn't see the importance of training exhibit staffers and hiring experienced temporary staffers for a few key roles. Is there a way to communicate the value of effective staffers in a manner number crunchers will understand?

A.
Sometimes upper management sees only dollars, not sense. So one of the best ways to convey the value of effective exhibit staffers is to present internal management with a cost per hour for each staffer in the booth. Once stakeholders see bottom-line costs, they often take an interest in exhibit staffing, and likely in your training and hiring efforts. Plus, if you reveal these cost-per-hour figures to staffers, conscientious types will better understand the sizable investment the company is making in them and hopefully give you their all in the booth.

There are three simple steps to determine a staffer's cost per hour. The method I use involves all show costs, as I view the entire trade show experience as a face-to-face marketing endeavor. Without staffers, an exhibit has no value to an exhibitor. And without effective staffers, any exhibit will undoubtably struggle to achieve an acceptable return on investment for the company.

First, determine how much it costs to exhibit at a given show by adding up all of the fees associated with it, such as booth-space rental, the amortized cost of the exhibit property, graphics, transportation, hospitality events, drayage, labor, staff-travel costs, etc. For the purposes of our example, let's say the ABC Show costs you a total of $150,000.

Second, divide that cost by the number of hours the show floor is open. If the ABC Show runs three days and show hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., you have 21 total hours of show-floor time. In this scenario, you're spending $7,143 per hour to have your booth on the show floor (as $150,000 divided by 21 equals $7,143).

Third, divide your hourly exhibiting cost by the number of staffers you have in the booth. If you have 10 staffers, it costs the company $714 per hour per staffer for this particular show. While you may want to present this data to management for a specific show (and you might want to include the entire per-hour booth cost to drive home the type of investment you're making), also consider averaging these costs across all shows to give you an average cost per hour for each staffer.

Granted, all you've done is crunched some numbers, but now you're speaking a language management understands. And when staffing costs $714 per hour, any management team should comprehend the importance of training, or even hiring well-trained staffers or professional presenters to work your booth.


— Matt Hill, president, The Hill Group, San Jose, CA
Help Wanted
Send your tough questions about exhibiting to Linda Armstrong, larmstrong@exhibitormagazine.com.

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