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10 Mistakes to Avoid When Hiring Event Staff

By Julius Solaris

Margaret ColebeckThis is a guest post written by Margaret Colebeck. She is a trade show event staffing expert and blogger for Models4tradeshows. Her blog posts focus on providing tips and advice to event staffing professionals. Submit your guest post here.


The success of an event largely depends on the event staff working and how well they interact and engage with your audience. Not only is the event staff the face of your brand, but they help to build and establish relationships with your most valued customers.

However, many times staffing is overlooked which can, consequently, harm the event. In order to create the most success for your event, be sure to avoid the following mistakes when hiring event staff.

Event staffing

1. Delaying the Decision Process

One of the worst mistakes an event planner can make when hiring event staff is taking too long to make a decision. While event staff understand that a lot goes into planning and executing an event, they also have their own personal schedules.

Delaying the decision process for more than 1 to 2 weeks is generally too long and will result in top event staff becoming unavailable. In order to avoid this and ensure quality staff, keep the decision process as short as possible.

2. Not Factoring in Your Brand’s Image

Event staff are the frontline and face of your event and/or promotion. Therefore, when deciding which event staff to hire, it is important to remember your brand image and hire staffing that accurately reflect it.

3. Not Consulting Your Team

When hiring event staff, it is important to consider the other members of your team that will be working alongside these staff members.

Will their personalities complement one another? Nothing is worse than a team that doesn’t get along. Be sure to consult your team before selecting event staff.

4. Not Understanding Your Event Needs

Before hiring event staff, factor in the size, length, and audience of your event. This will help you to determine the ideal number of staff your need, along with their gender, age, experience level, and cultural diversity.

5. Not Interviewing Event Staff

You wouldn’t hire a full or part-time employee without first interviewing him or her, right? Then, why would you hire event staff, without interviewing and asking important event staffing questions first? Before hiring event staff always ask to interview them via phone, Skype, or in person.

6. Not Asking for Updated Photos & Resume

Along with interviewing event staff, you should also ask for an updated resume and photos (editor's note: this is only for model related staffing where asking for a photo may be relevant to the job. Asking for a photo is NOT always relevant and against the law in some countries) . Doing so will help you determine whether their credentials and experience level are an ideal fit for your company and/or brand.

7. Not Sharing Your Company & Product Information

After hiring event staff, it is important to provide them with the necessary information about your company background and product information. Doing so will keep your event staff well-informed and prepared to answer any questions.

8. Not Investing Enough Money

The quality of the event staff you hire is in direct correlation with the amount of money you pay them to work. While seeking event staff on Craigslist may seem like a great way to save money, it is unlikely that they will be able to meet or exceed your event needs and expectations. Instead, it is best to work with an experienced event staffing company that is professional and reliable.

9. Withholding Job Information

It is important to be upfront with all applicants about the responsibilities of your event. While it may seem better to leave out the negatives or downsides of the staffing role, it may result in more stress. By being honest with your candidates about their roles during the event, they are more likely to work the entire event.

10. Hiring Based on Looks

Finally, one of the biggest mistakes event planners make when hiring event staff is hiring based on looks. While looks are an important factor for attracting attention to your booth, it is more important to hire event staff based on experience level, professionalism, and personality. Event staff that are hired for reasons other than looks are more likely to produce the results your team is aiming for.

In Conclusion

In the end, event planners must remember that staffing is one of the most important factors for lead generation and sales and event and should be treated as such. Therefore, event planners should allot enough time to hire and train event staff before they arrive onsite.

By keeping your event needs and goals in mind, and avoiding these event staffing mistakes, your event is sure to go off without a hitch.

Photo by Joel G Goodman

about the author

Julius Solaris
Julius Solaris is the editor of EventManagerBlog.com, he is an international speaker, author and consultant.
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  • Thorben Grosser

    This is a great post, and certainly useful. Thanks for sharing.

    I have a question though: In the US, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII), Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 and the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978, and the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990 (Title I and V), in the UK the Equality Act 2010 and similar laws in other countries, make it illegal to ask potential hires for a photo, as you cannot discriminate based on gender, race, nationality and so on.

    However, you can, on special occasions, file exemptions (ie: hiring female airport staff for body searches).

    Are you suggesting to rather go down the red tape road and file an exemption, or do you suggest ignoring equality laws?

    • Interesting point. I would want to know what Margaret has to say but doing some research I found an interesting article that gives an overview http://www.weddingjobblog.com/2013/04/is-it-illegal-to-ask-for-photo-with.html

      It looks like a grey area in some cases

      • Thorben Grosser

        Exactly – the model situation may or may not apply to event contractors. If you have very good reasons, you may choose based on looks or anything else that would count as discriminatory (let’s imagine you need an Asian actor for a movie, nonsense to hire me instead). However, at least in the UK, there are two ways of doing it: Filing for an exemption, or secretly hoping nobody will mind.

        • Since Margaret works with models I guess I can understand where she is coming from, but I agree that it should be key to check local regulations for the above.

          Actually even in the U.S. it tends to differ from state to state. – I will amend that in the post and make a note

        • I’ve added a note to clarify this point – thanks for pointing it out Thorben

    • Margaret Colebeck

      I’m glad you find you the post useful. I apologize for the
      misunderstanding. Asking for updated information is most important in regards to resumes. The photo aspect was only meant for instances were photos might be reasonably necessary to help qualify an individual for a particular role.

      You can speak with an attorney or read more about Bona fide
      occupational qualifications for instances when asking for photos might be appropriate.

  • I find the blog post very interesting especially point number 10. I think what was more appropriate here is that when you are looking for a candidate for the position make sure to disclose that you are looking for someone who is presentable though this may vary depending on your country’s law anyway.

  • Mark Breen

    Great post Margaret. Thanks for sharing.

    Here in Ireland there’s a pervading issue with promoters and event organisers seeking to get a load of Event Mgt students in for free to fill up staff roles for events. Now, done in the right spirit, done well and when it’s mutually beneficial, this is great. Thing is it’s too often abused when the people are just looking for cheap / free labour.

    I think the importance of No.3 resonated with me particularly. The people who will be working closest with the new staff should be the ones hiring them, for me.


  • Guy Nadeau

    Good article Margaret.

    I especially liked the part about not delaying decisions as the better people do hire out further in advance. Also, the part about investing enough money still rings true, “you get what you pay for”.

    Just today I spoke with a client that did an event months ago in a venue with horrible acoustics; I knew what it would take to provide intelligible sound in that venue and designed our audio reinforcement system accordingly. However, my client elected to go with a cheaper company. She told me today it was a bad decision as the audio was poor and most of the audience couldn’t understand the performer. Worst of all, the performer was uncomfortable being forced to alter his act due to the poor audio.

  • Great list, Margaret! I do agree with point number 9. Many tend to ficus too much on the positives and fail to inform the even staff that there are negatives too. It would be better for them to go into an event with their eyes wide open than with the wrong idea in mind, right?