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Appallingly Bad Booth Manners at CES 2013

Get your noses out of your mobile phones, stop texting for five seconds, and maybe you'll meet your next big customer or generate the next big story about your company.


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I wrote about the bad manners at the NuVision/Apex/TMAX booth during CES 2013 but they were not alone in their trade-show apathy.

If you’re going to invest all that money on a booth, why do you ignore people that are obviously interested in learning something about your company?

And then you probably go back to the trade show producers and tell them what a bad show it was.

If your booth is not busy, and you see someone staring at your stuff, perhaps you should at the very least look up from your cell phone, and at most ask if you can answer any questions.

Another offender was Samsung. They had a rather large room dedicated to the company’s activities in hospitality and I was eager to gather information for our sister publication, Commercial Integrator. There were two guys in the space who never looked up from their phones, as I walked around snapping pictures, reading the signage and looking puzzled.

Finally, after five minutes of this (I was the only guest in the room at noon on the final day of the show), I asked if they could please tell me about their hospitality initiatives. Begrudgingly, one of them got off the stool and sleepily started showing me some stuff. When I began to take notes, he asked if I was a reporter.

“Yes,” I said.

“Well, I can’t talk to you,” he said. “I’m not certified to talk to the press.”

“So can you get me someone who can?”

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View more CE Pro coverage of CES 2013 at www.cepro.com/ces

So he grabs another guy, who (again begrudgingly) started showing me around and then decided that he too was not able to speak with the press, but he would look for someone who was authorized.

I asked, “Can you please just give me a brief overview? I’m in a hurry.”

“No, you’ll quote everything I say.”

At the same booth, I asked where the “smart home” demo was, because I saw it in some signage. Everyone I asked pointed me to the Samsung smart appliances, which was not what I meant. The smart-appliance guys had no idea what I was talking about until I pointed them to the signage. They suggested I ask at the front desk. I did. The two ladies at the front desk had no idea what I was talking about, nor did they offer to find out. (Apparently, there were some tablets showing GUIs of Samsung’s home automation initiatives in Korea.)

Again, by this time, there was practically no one in the booth.

Compare this to Winston Cheng at Aeon Labs, manning the Sonte/Opulis booth in the jam-packed Eureka Park exhibit at the Venetian. While he was speaking with another customer, he saw me struggling to take pics and get a glimpse of the “smart film” demo.

He didn’t know who I was, but when I finally gave up and walked away, he chased me down a minute later and asked if he could help me with anything ….

And he got a pretty good story out of it (CES 2013 Eureka: ‘Smart Film’ Replaces Curtains, Goes Light to Dark via Wi-Fi)

I get it, you’re tired and cranky and half the people kicking the tires at your booth aren’t worth your time.

But do you want to risk missing the next big customer or next big story?

I learned everything I know about customer service at TGI Fridays, where I waited tables for a few months. People are willing to wait if you acknowledge them. Just a brief, “I’ll be with you in a moment” goes a long way if you’re serving other customers. The guy at NuVision could have simply apologized that he was in the middle of an important text message and could he get with me in just a couple of minutes ....

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  About the Author

Julie Jacobson, recipient of the 2014 CEA TechHome Leadership Award, is co-founder of EH Publishing, producer of CE Pro, Electronic House, Commercial Integrator, Security Sales and other leading technology publications. She currently spends most of her time writing for CE Pro in the areas of home automation, security, networked A/V and the business of home systems integration. Julie majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, spent a year abroad at Cambridge University, earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin, and has never taken a journalism class in her life. She's a washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player currently residing in Carlsbad, Calif. Email Julie at [email protected]

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