Common Mistakes Made by International Exhibitors: Preparation (Part 2 of 4)

Are you staffing your exhibit with the right people? Is your team trained on how to interact with the local (foreign) attendees? Is your team using your exhibit to its full potential? Many companies who exhibit at international trade shows fail to properly PREPARE before they attend. PREPARATION MISTAKES fall into three main areas: designstaffing, and training.

In this 4-part series:  Common Mistakes Made by International Exhibitors, we are identifying these mistakes and suggesting tactics to avoid them in the future. You can read Part One, Awareness, here.


Your exhibit is the first thing people experience, so it must be interesting and inviting. Every exhibit needs to have a clear focal point to tell your story. Often exhibits are cluttered with too many things—too many design elements, too much copy, too many products— all competing for attention. As a result, the exhibit fails to communicate your message clearly.

Exhibits are also communicating subtleties about your brand –expressed by your specific look, feel, and architecture. Your exhibit should be tailored appropriately to engage with your local audience – whether through live presentations, hospitality, demos, or other methods. Too often, companies take the same approach they use in their home country and expect it to work just as well overseas, which is rarely the case.

Strive to have consistency in your branding with relevance to the local audience.


Should your salespeople work the booth? Sometimes they are not the best people for the job because the show floor is more about marketing than selling. Generally, this is top of the funnel activity – engaging with lots of people who may know little or nothing about your company.

I recommend staffing your booth with people who have the ability to quickly and comfortably engage with people of all types of backgrounds. They are friendly, professional, and knowledgeable. They have a true appreciation for cultural differences and are familiar with the local culture and country. They are good listeners and have the ability to communicate well (especially in multiple languages). They desire to educate and inform. They aren’t looking to close a deal, but rather to cultivate a relationship.

Having the right team members in the booth can make a world of difference!


Have you invested in training staff members on how to work the trade show floor? Internationally, it becomes even more important that your team is trained not only on how to work in the exhibit, but on how to interact and engage with locals.

For international shows, you should train your staff on things like:

Sometimes, we assume that everyone intuitively understands how the engagement process is intended to work for a particular exhibit. Training can solve that problem quickly – as well as many others.

For more content on exhibiting internationally, visit Global Exhibitor.

This is part 2 of a 4 part series on common mistakes made by international exhibitors. Part 3 of this series will focus on COMMUNICATIONS MISTAKES: Messaging, Engagement, and Evaluation.

Picture of Jeff Hannah

Jeff Hannah

Vice President of Strategy

As a strategist, teacher, and writer at heart, Jeff has a penchant for sharing his insights with our team, clients, and the industry as a whole through blogging, podcasting, and speaking. He is a forward-thinker and is constantly charting a course to navigate the waters of change. He is also our resident student of the world, a veritable endless wealth of knowledge about cross-cultural interactions, international business, and travel. An award-winning designer and serial entrepreneur, he founded companies in several countries, gaining powerful insights throughout his career working with global organizations.
As VP of Strategy, Jeff is focused on developing visions and strategic plans to expand ECI’s current offerings, develop new ones, and refine our organizational infrastructure, culture, and processes. He also helps clients develop a comprehensive, integrated, and strategic approach to their programs. Jeff is the executive sponsor of ECI University, where he develops content and teaches our growing global team. He is also a recognized expert in the global trade show industry, and is a faculty member of the CTSM (Certified Trade Show Marketer) Program.


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