Trade show participation is an investment. For many companies, it's a sizable portion of their marketing budgets for the year. The return on investment is critical. It's easy to worry about the big items such as your display or giveaway, and forget about some of the smallest details.
No matter what, there are a few things to avoid doing during trade shows especially while staffing the booth by yourself.
Reading a Book or Newspaper
It's extremely tempting to read during show hours as a means to pass the time. Some events have long hours and there's sure to be moments of lulls in attendance. Depending on the event and your booth location, you may find the beginning of the show or the end of the day to be particularly ripe for low attendance. Resist the urge to read much more than show materials or handouts. By nature, many people will go out of their way to not disrupt you if you're engrossed in the act of reading.
Scrolling Endlessly on your Smartphone
When there's a moment of quiet in your booth, the urge to check your work email will overtake you. When you're finished checking that, you'll check your social media accounts. You may find yourself scrolling your business Twitter feed or Instagram. Before you know it 5-10 minutes could pass. The problem is while you're going down the rabbit hole of apps and newsfeeds, event attendees are walking by your booth as you're missing the opportunity to make eye contact and a friendly greeting. Refraining from txt messaging and phone calls during show hours is also important. You've committed a large investment in the show, it requires your full attention.
Eating or Snacking Messily
We all need to eat, and staying on message and sparking conversation requires avoiding getting hangry. If you're responsible for covering the company's booth by yourself over an extended period of time, you need to find snack and meal options that are easy to consume in parts. Avoiding talking with your mouth full is obvious, but foods that get between your teeth or make your breathe stink are also no-nos. Salads, for example, require fork and knife, get in your teeth easily, and are not easy to finish quickly. People also don't want to interrupt while you're eating, and it would be embarrassing to talk with a prospect with salad dressing on your shirt. The best advice is to eat a sizable, well-balanced meal prior to the event opening then small protein rich snacks throughout. Also, try to avoid high sugar loads as you can crash.
All of this boils down to being mindful and present during the entire show hours. If you're sharing booth responsibilities, make sure you give each other breaks to walk, eat, and check your work email. Everyone needs a little downtime to reset during the hectic sprint of a busy trade show.