Participating in a trade fair is always something special for every company. It deviates from the normal working day of most employees and demands them in a completely different way. While a lot of time and money is invested in the trade fair stand, the exhibits and the documents for a trade fair, additional investments are rarely made in the employees who are present at the trade fair stand.
But the stand personnel is the central factor that determines the success or failure of a trade fair participation. We asked Spomenka Kolar-Zovko, Managing Director of the Akademie escolar,, about trade fair training:
Mrs Kolar-Zovko, with the escolar Academy you offer trade fair training? Why do you need trade fair training at all?
In sport, nobody asks why you need training. If you decide to take part in a marathon, you exercise. If you can afford it, you will also get tips from a personal trainer. If you want to perform in a team sport, then you can only do it with training on a regular basis with discipline and motivation.
What are the three cardinal mistakes you notice again and again?
- Harmony: At the trade fair stand, a stand team that is not in harmony with the trade fair concept or does not appear as a team.
- Less is more: Too many products/exhibits and too much talking between stand employees or chattering visitors with information they don’t need.
- Goals: Lack of communication of goals and target groups. That leads to all stand employees doing what they think they can do best.
Is trade fair training recommended for everyone? Does also the sales professional, who has customer contact every day, need any training sessions like this?
Here I would like to use the example of sport once again. A Ronaldo also has a trainer who he listens to, who motivates him and from whom he learns.
Which aspects covers your training “Fit for the trade fair”?
Depending on your goals, target group and brand performance, e.g: Communication with unknown visitors, storytelling, objection handling and team motivation.
When is the best time to do trade fair training? Immediately before the trade fair, employees are usually busy with other things. On the other hand, such training should be held close to the trade fair.
This answer depends on the companies involved. The best timing is also connected to the objectives of the trade fair training, two examples for this:
If the company is interested in attracting many visitors to its stand, it is important to hold the training approximately four weeks in advance. Then all participants have time to invite their customers to the trade fair once again.
However, if the company is concerned that the motivation is very high, then it’s also possible to hold the training one day before the trade fair starts.
Do you deal with country-specific aspects? The Japanese may want to be addressed differently than the Austrians …
Of course, because about 70 percent of trade fairs that take place in Germany are international ones. So it is inevitably part of a trade fair training course. We practice, for example, the identification of the decision-maker, the manners with different hierarchies and most of the time in foreign languages.
Do you also offer a brand seminar? What can be understood by that?
Trade fairs are brand stagings live, up close and, to use the “Instagram language”, “without filters”. If companies don’t know that they and every single employee at the trade fair stand is a part of the brand, then the trade fair presentation won’t succeed. The stand builder, the agency can work out great concepts, but it is lived by the people. The people are the ones to put first, because it is their company and their products. That’s why we have developed various modules with brand experts to enable exhibitors to live their brand at an event.
What are the other seminars offered by the escolar Academy?
We offer seminars on current trade fairs and event topics for professionals: from trade fair planning A-Z to event law and event management II.
How does a seminar usually proceed?
Even during an open seminar, our participants receive a briefing sheet, i.e. they have the opportunity to communicate the expectations and wishes of the seminar in advance. Our speakers prepare individually for each seminar. We make sure that all participants feel comfortable and that the learning goals are achieved. Because with us there is the satisfaction guarantee.
What is the ideal number of participants for a seminar?
We never have more than eight participants in an open seminar. Inhouse, e.g. for trade fair training, it depends on the size of the group and the expectations of the company; a one-day seminar with twelve participants can be held, but also a kick-off with over a hundred stand employees with several speakers in different languages.
Competition analyses are also part of your services. Do you have specific framework conditions or methods?
It is important to us to reflect a fair analysis of the entire trade fair appearance. For this purpose, we have developed key figures and analysis criteria that deal with the following:
- Stand construction
- Booth team
Our overall analysis is not a snapshot and is therefore ideally suited to obtain an external and professional expert assessment without the need for the works council to issue an approval.
How did you personally get to work in the trade fair industry? What were your first professional contacts with live communication?
I am an old trade fair rabbit. In 1989 I already worked at a stand at CeBIT. Since then I have been working in adult education and have always kept my passion for technology. In addition to our academy, I founded a social media agency in Berlin in 2011. Our customers, who come from all industries, from all over the world, have high demands on trade fair training. As a result, our team is agile and uses modern learning methods. I am one of those people who can say that my work is a vocation that I do with passion and fun. I love people and communication and the most beautiful business platform in the world: the fair!