Exhibitors have come up with an emerging trend. More and more people are moving away from the generic candy dish to actually serving people real food together with beverages while at the booth. Trade shows have become somewhat of a food fest. Though it is one of the most historically accurate means of drawing people to your booth, yet companies today are standing at a cross point of deciding if at all investing in food is a good measure for the ultimate profit cycle of a company.
Starting with something as simple as a branded bottle of water to branded chocolates, hot beverages to full sit-down meals as seen in some recent shows in Europe; trade shows are increasingly taking things more to the appetition side. It is but normal for a person to get tired and hungry when walking a show. Most people attending a show arrive from distant places. The trade show managers are yet to grasp the state of emotional facets associated with a visitor. Your visitor is looking for a lot more than just free food.
What these managers are yet to understand is the difference between “college party food” and “trade show food”.
- Messy food – You are at your booth. A person just walks in with ketchup and ice-cream on this suit. Gross, eh? You still move on to greet him. Only to find cilantro stuck in his teeth. Still want to communicate your excellent business ideas? NO right. So stop spreading the horror of hot dogs, fajitas and spaghetti on the trade show floors. Do yourself, the other trade show friends/foes and the attendees a favor.
- Smelly food – Does your girlfriend love onion, garlic, fish sauce and numerous other fabulous foods stinking out of your mouth when your lips are about to be locked-together? She kicks you straight towards the bathroom, right? Please don’t make us do the same. People are here to make new connections and have in-depth conversations. Questioning your breath, or if the roast beef aroma in your hand is really NOT confidence inspiring. Let’s together strive to keep the stench away from the booths. Shall we?
- Controversial food – Martinis are definitely crowd-breaking. You might also get people to let out their innermost oracles based on the numbers you get in their systems. However though think of the after-effects. These people walking out of your booths, puking and making a mess out of the show. You might also be in line for some serious forgery cases owing to the memory loss that follows your martinis. On the upside, he might be in love with you for the night at your company’s expense.
- Dangerous food – Your booth might look scrumptiously delicious with that platter of BBQ chicken, kebabs, pulled pork, sausages and briskets filling in the ambience. Not only is there a chance of landing you in serious Fire Regulation trouble, that BBQ equipment in the booth might be the cause of the start of a fire. Someone might get burned, or injured, or there might be heavy damage to property. So decide, are you looking to fill your booth, or fill in the hospitals?
- Highly Allergenic – Remember Hitch? Remember his date after that allergenic got into Will Smith’s system? Well luckily he was on a date and did not bother filing in a report. In case you are looking to serve peanuts, tree nuts, shellfish, milk, fish, eggs or something really allergenic at your booth to some eminent high-end personalities walking in your booth be prepared for the lawsuit that will follow. Looking to build the brand reputation here, aren’t we?
- Very expensive – Yes, there will be market leaders and other eminent personalities visiting your booth. Their food habits are meant to be way different from what you have normally experienced. But does that really encompass over-the-budget food expenses? Our job as trade show managers is to curtail expenses, not to add on to them. Leave the caviar where it is best suited – on the tables of a fine-dining restaurant.
- Not brand appropriate – Well, there is nothing like a brand appropriate food. I mean what could you possibly serve to the audience, being an IT service oriented company? However, it is not also advisable to serve R shaped/designed cupcakes just to lure in audience and make your booth a never-fading memory jog. Go for experiments but do not overdo it to become unforgettable (or hilariously uncomfortable).
A trade show is an event where you get opportunities to create brand recognition and a good vibe for your company. It is a great place for a firm to climb a few steps of the ladder to success. Food pitfalls must not become a potent threat to your success. You are not just some caterer, out to make way for a hit wedding or corporate party order. Plan your menu, only after you have planned your presentation and decided on your staff. Remember your booth staff is responsible for making people aware on how great your products are, and not listen to complaints regarding food or please their taste buds.
After all it’s a trade show and there isn’t a nomination for the best catering service. You are not at a food festival.