"Hospitality is not to change people, but to offer them space where change can take place. It is not to bring men and women over to our side, but to offer freedom not disturbed by dividing lines.”
Training for Hospitality
How do you train that level of hospitality? Don’t people just have that, or don’t? While many traits are inherently well suited for someone to be a good staffer (such as friendly demeanor, curiosity, conscientiousness and company and product knowledge), most staffers will benefit from learning, or being reminded, about important staffing skills (such as how to engage people, product knowledge and tech tips on lead capturing).
Also, sharing general demographic information about who your customers typically are and reminding them that this is the opportunity to actually meet and listen to customers in person will help.
If staffers know who the client is likely to be, they will be better prepared to host them. You can typically get this information from the show organizer of from your company’s own marketing research. This is especially important if you send out invitations to prospects and make appointments as those clients should get extra special treatment as they are prequalified.
Selecting staffers that understand that they are representing not just your company, but also your brand is invaluable. However, also reminding them of how acknowledging and listening to visitors can make the difference between a good and a mediocre experience. A good resource to consider is a book by Danny Meyer, the hospitality expert and author of Setting the Table – The Transforming Power of Hospitality in Business.
It is so tempting to think about trade shows as only a way to get new names. So easy to think that you can talk to your customers at a different time because you are at this event to meet new prospects. So natural to want to only think about what is in it for you and your company. Don’t get me wrong, I think the primary focus should be getting a good return on our presence at the show and hopefully making numerous sales as a result of the valuable contacts obtained at the show. BUT… that is not ALL that the show is all about.
The trade show is also an opportunity for you and your employees to learn more about existing clients. Find out if they are happy, or not, with your products or services.
“There is no hospitality like understanding.”
These events allow you to connect with business associates, to meet people (who while not your prospects now, could be so in the future or who you can help), to learn more about your industry and the people in it, to listen.
When you take the time to really listen to your customers, and to your business associates, you have the opportunity to not just make one sale, but to really help them, and to develop a long-term business relationship.
This is the type of thing you can’t do online. This is what face-to-face marketing is all about. Make use of it.
This article was first first published in www.skyline.com
About the Author
Sofia is the Customer Engagement and Industry Relations Manager for Skyline Exhibits. An experienced marketing professional with branding, innovation and product commercialization expertise, she heads up Skyline’s marketing efforts in customer engagement, exhibitor education, industry relations and market research. Sofia has more than a decade of experience with both B2B and consumer packaged goods companies and an MBA from the University of Arizona Eller College of Management with an emphases in marketing and entrepreneurship. Sofia is fluent in Spanish having lived and studied in Latin America, and currently sits on the board of directors for the Conservation Corps of Minnesota and Iowa.