Basic Booth Etiquette for the Return of In-Person Conferences

by Cindy Kremer Moen

As she was getting ready to return to the office, one of my friends recently said, “It’s time for me to put my hard clothes on.” With the return of many in-person conferences and trade shows, many of us are digging out our “hard” clothes – not to mention our uncomfortable shoes – and getting ready to shake hands and network and socialize with colleagues, clients and prospects.

The lack of industry events has been difficult for companies targeting other businesses. Leads dried up and forced companies to be more innovative with their techniques for developing new prospects. We all realized how important it was to connect face to face with the people we target. With the return of in-person events, we can once again realize the power that spontaneous conversations, sharing a meal or meeting on the convention floor has in our business development efforts.

As you are developing your plans for trade shows and conferences, it is a good idea to remind your sales team of some simple booth etiquette guidelines that will help them – and your company – make the best possible first impression with new prospects.

  • Only bring to the booth the items necessary to get through your day. Booths almost always have limited storage, so leave briefcases, coats, large bags, etc., in your hotel room.
  • Do not eat in your booth. Step out when someone is covering the booth and eat elsewhere. There’s really nothing worse than greeting a prospect with a mouth full of food.
  • Keep to just drinking water in the booth. When you’re not sipping, cover your bottle and put it out of sight. If you’re in need of other beverages, step out of the booth to consume them.
  • If you need to accept a phone call while you are scheduled in the booth, excuse yourself from the booth, if possible, to take the call. Only accept business calls during exhibit hall hours if the exhibit hall is quieter and you don’t have attendees waiting to talk.
  • Bring mints and discreetly consume them as needed.
  • Avoid browsing and scrolling through your phone. Phones should be in pockets or in your storage area while you are in the booth.
  • Dress to the dress code of the conference and wear comfortable shoes.
  • Appreciate that people have different comfort levels with social distancing. Decide on your level of comfort with handshakes or hugs, and monitor the body language of those you are meeting to assess their level of comfort with these activities.

It should go without saying, but I’ll mention it anyway: If you are showing signs of illness, do yourself and everyone at your conference a favor and stay away from the exhibit hall floor.

With a little practice and breaking in, the “hard” clothes soon won’t feel so difficult to put on, and the shoes will become more comfortable. Remember these basic booth etiquette pointers and your company will be in a great place to make the first few in-person events enormously successful.


According to Statista, the largest U.S. trade show is the Consumer Electronics Show, topping out at 2,930,421 square feet of exhibition space (2019). As a comparison, AICPA ENGAGE in June will have 89,295 square feet of exhibit space and ILTACON in August will have 178,787 square feet!

About the Author

Cindy Kremer Moen has helped Edge Marketing clients with strategies and tactics to meet their goals since 2006. She and her husband have two college-aged sons and recently relocated to fulfill a lifelong dream of living near the shores of Lake Superior.

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