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What a 5-Star Restaurant taught me about Trade Shows!

Jim Cermak

Head with me to Charleston, SC to Hall’s Chophouse! Hall’s Chophouse is a 5-star, family-owned, and operated restaurant in downtown Charleston. They are known for their steaks, service, and overall great food.

So how did this amazing restaurant teach me so much about getting better results at Trade Shows and in Business? Let me go through my experience again and tell you some powerful takeaways you can use.

Waiting in line outside when one of the owners – a member of the Hall family – popped out of the door and greeted every single person in line.

— How are you greeting people at your exhibit? Do they feel special? Or like just anyone else? Or like they’re bothering you? Be happy and excited! If you knew that this was going to be your best customer ever, how would you greet them?

— If you’re running a promo like a prize wheel or something that causes a line of people to form, send someone out to greet each person and thank them for coming. Also, get them qualified and ask them questions while they’re standing there.

— Think about it – at Hall’s, it was my first time being there and I’m waiting in line outside. My first thought was, that maybe we should go somewhere else. But when someone came out and greeted me and sincerely thanked me for being there, there was no way I was getting out of line.

Inside there was a jazz trio playing right by the door, and A lot of talking, a lot of laughing, smiles, and people all around having a great time.

— So how are you setting the tone at your booth?

— What’s the atmosphere you’re sitting at your booth? The lighting, the mood of your staff, the messaging, and the colors. Is it inviting? Does it draw people in?

— How about this question – if you were walking by your booth, would you want to walk up to it?

Once seated, had two people serving our table. Again – setting the tone that this would not be average service.

— Do your customers know more than just you at your company?

Brought out a cutting board with several steaks and our Main Server went through their specials describing each dish in a way that made your mouth water.

— How are you describing your products and services? Are you separating yourself from your competitors, or fitting right in with the pack?

— Think about it – you may have the best product on the market, but if you’re just using generic terms to describe it, then you’re now a commodity. And you’ll be fighting on price instead of getting a price you deserve.

Everything that arrived at our table was a feast for the eyes!

— Are you putting your best foot forward? Does your booth look good? Is your literature neat and filled? Are your giveaways neatly placed out? Did someone leave a coffee cup in the middle of your counter? Be sure to have someone in charge of getting the booth straightened up and keeping it looking the best at least a couple of times during the show.

And of course, the food tasted as good or better than expected.

— Make sure if you’re doing product demos that your product works! I have seen things go wrong a couple of times over the years. One time the product which was sent out to do demos was defective. So frustrating! Another time saw a company with a software product they were relying on their own internet hotspot to run their demos. However, in the hall the internet reception was horrible. So they kept getting stuck. Not a good look and can be avoided!

— Here’s a Pro Tip – if you are going to be relying on internet service, go with the service the trade show is offering. So many convention centers and halls have bad cell reception, so be sure to make the right decision. This is not something you want to pinch pennies on.

— And this goes beyond trade shows – this is important in business as well. Make sure your products and services live up to the expectations you set! Nothing can sour a customer more than a product that doesn’t perform to the level you promised.

Then that moment when they cleared off our table – unreal!

— What are you doing to create WOW moments for your attendees? How can you be more memorable in a positive way?

Then on our way out, we were thanked by one of the owners.

— How often do we go out of our way to thank our attendees for stopping by? Or effectively follow up in a genuine way that makes people truly believe you appreciated them stopping by your booth – whether they become customers or not.

So there you go! How this amazing 5-Star restaurant taught me about how to better work trade shows! I encourage you to Go back through this episode and listen again and take notes about what changes you can make. It’s time to truly WOW your attendees!!

And if you ever find yourself in Charleston, please make your way over to Hall’s Chophouse! You will be in for an amazing experience.


About the author, Jim Jim Cermak has over 25 years of marketing, consulting, and training experience, and has planned and worked hundreds of Trade Shows. He gets a little overly excited about Trade Shows, and puts that passion into helping companies get better results!

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