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Top Tips when Taking Your Team to Trade Shows

Training expert Maria Musgrove reveals the best ways to prepare your team for shopping trading events

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Maria Musgrove
Maria Musgrove

The movie I Don’t Know How She Does It with Sarah Jessica Parker juggling work and family reminds me of when I had six shops and bought for all of them at a three day trade show… with a minimum of five managers tagging along. I really don’t know how I did it as it is hard enough now with only two shops.

Having worked in the bridal industry for over 21 years, I reveal my top tips on how to get the most out of your buying team at trade shows…

Some of you may already be skipping to the next article as you ask: “What buying team? I always go it alone”, either because you don’t have any staff, or choose not to take anyone with you. If in appointments you’re relating more to Mum (or maybe Gran!) then are you really able to buy for a bride who is at least half your age? You might be able to sell to her, but if your stock reflects only your taste then you might be in trouble!

Giving your team a say in what is bought results in them having much more of a stake in selling it and will minimise them blaming the stock (and you) for losing a sale.

What’s their role?

If it’s just to top up your champagne glass and carry your bag a la Meryl Streep as Miranda in The Devil Wears Prada, then you deserve all you get. Your motivated Tigger might morph into a moaning Eeyore who pooh-poohs (excuse the pun) every dress you like and makes you wonder why you bothered to bring such a negatron in the first place.

We agree pre show who is going where and when, who’s on camera and social media duty and, more importantly, who is going to keep me on track with budget and time. My team have my permission when I’m “networking” (euphemism for the “Remember when Harrogate horror stories”) to give me five minutes, press the mute button and drag me off to the next appointment.

What’s the deal?

And I don’t mean the supplier show deal. Make it clear what you expect from them in terms of behaviour and dress code. Do you expect them to have dinner and a team meeting in the evenings or are they free to do their own thing? If they’re working into the evening do they expect to get paid?

At our annual Barcelona trip we worked hard Friday and Saturday. Sunday was spent lounging by the pool, sipping cocktails, eating a late lunch (all paid for by me) and then home. One year the girls demanded to be paid for Sunday so I simply changed their flights to Saturday. Never again did they ask to be paid for “a day in the sun with sangria.”

When are you going to eat?

You might be able to survive on a diet of candy and cava, but your team might need a bit more sustenance. Plan re-fuelling and comfort breaks and agree up front what booze you’re paying for – shows are expensive enough without a hefty bar bill to face at check out.

How to agree on what to order?

If you’re going to have a disagreement remember that you’re all brand ambassadors and the reason you brought the team is to get a broad view. Carole, my first coaching client in Donegal, gives each of her team a ‘Wild Card’ which I think is a great idea. Consensus is great but if there’s conflict sort it out at the coffee station and not on the stand. Your mantra needs to be “Remember as far as anyone knows we are a nice, normal family”.

If nothing else, by taking the team it will put an end to that cackling chorus of “Who bought this then?” when the first new stock arrives as you’re all equally guilty and you can turn round and reply “We all did!”


If you enjoyed this, have a read of our Content Editor’s Buyer’s Guide to London Bridal Week and White Gallery here.

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