As a trade show pro, you know all of the standard tips to ensure positive results, but you might not have considered these more controversial and critical tactics:

  1. Leave the faith at home. Instruct all floor personnel to remove any religious decorations such as necklaces, pendants, bracelets, lapel pins or anything else that connotes the individual’s beliefs. Unless you’re at a trade show that is particularly focused on a particular theology, those adornments are distractions which have nothing to do with the business you want to conduct at the show.
  2. Hide the tats. Although tattoos have become more and more mainstream they are best covered up whenever possible, and that’s not only for religious symbol tattoos. You don’t have to be a politically correct fiend to comprehend that a blood-dripping skull tat is inappropriate at a children’s toy show or that one that incorporates nudity or expletives is inappropriate… at just about any trade show anywhere.
  3. We are the world. It’s a common trade show tip to maintain gender balance, but you should take it further than that and also ensure racial balance. Any booth that is staffed with a racially homogenous staff is going to lead some attendees to wonder whether that reflects the hiring policy of your company as a whole. If you have a large booth, you should attempt to echo the racial balance of the nation.
  4. Whaddaheckdidthatguysay? While you’re racking your brains figuring out which ones of your go-to trade show personnel are going to stay home due to the racial balance aspect you can start dealing with the thorny language issue. Your floor staff has to have an impeccable mastery of English with as little noticeable accent as possible, whether it be foreign or even regional. The rule of thumb to apply is that your trade show people should speak as closely as possible to the standard of Anchorman English (and I don’t mean Ron Burgundy).
  5. Button it up. Unless you’re at Berlin’s Venus trade show, it is inappropriate 100% of the time for any of your floor staff to dress in a sexually suggestive manner. Men should be nattily attired in upscale suits and ties (and tell them to keep their jackets on), while women should dress in elegant modesty. That means no plunging necklines, supershort skirts or six inch stilettos. Sex sells, but on the trade show floor it’s not a turn on but a turn off.
  6. Bye Booth Babes. You can’t be a hypocrite and demand that your booth staff dress like they were off to Church during the Eisenhower Administration while you have booth babes flaunting their wares in bikinis that would barely act as a band-aid. The rule about booth babes is simple. Don’t go there. Even though it may seem to be a traditional trade show pre-requisite, the ire you will instill in many of your attendees is never worth it. Besides, if your product is so lame it has to be sold by distracting the buyers with 44 DDs you shouldn’t be in business anyway.
  7. Don’t party hearty. The rule about intoxicated staff on the trade show floor is simple: ensure that everyone who represents your company is 100% sober at all times that they are in the booth or traipsing around the floor. Many staffers see trade shows as a way to party every second that they’re not on the schedule and when that drunk, stoned, or hung over state is evident to your customers your company image is going to take a serious torpedoing.
  8. Avoid knocking buzzards off manure wagons. Some trade shows are hot messes in more ways than one so cramming 50,000 people into a convention center can drive up the heat and cause your staff to sweat like they were awaiting execution. Antiperspirant works wonders but avoid strong perfumes and colognes. If it gets really serious, send them back to their rooms for a shower.
    Implement all of these top 8 tips and you’ll avoid controversy in your booth and be able to concentrate on selling!