Manners Matter: The importance of expo etiquette

Bella Thomas greets guests at the Smart magazine booth during The Women's Show.

Bella greets guests at the Smart booth during The Women’s Show.

It was wonderful connecting with many readers on such a personal level this past weekend.

I enjoyed the privilege of representing Smart magazine and GYDance at the Woman’s Show.

Memorial Hall is a familiar place for me, as I participated in the Baby and Kids Expo for many years.

This week I thought we could engage in a refresher course on all things etiquette when attending a trade show, special event or expo.

Meeting the vendors

  1. One of the activities I have my students participate in is called “walking in other’s shoes.” We do not literally swap shoes, but lie down, eyes closed, and imagine being in someone else’s situation. This has proven to be an incredibly useful tool in class.

    Before attending a trade show or expo event, I recommend doing just that. Put yourself in the vendor’s shoes. Every business has a beginning. This might be a young vendor who is striving to be successful at her first show. Be positive, thoughtful with your opinion and encouraging. Follow the age-old rule that if you have nothing nice to say then simply say nothing at all.

  2. Make eye contact when speaking to anyone; it shows respect and allows them to know that they have your full attention.
  3. Be respectful of the vendor’s personal space when speaking to them
  4. Unless there is a “please touch” sign, ask before touching the display items that the vendor took time and care to set up.
  5. Many come to expos or trade shows for the giveaways and freebies. Bring your address labels to apply to the giveaway forms. This will keep crowds moving more quickly.
  6. When there are candies, mints, pens or other free samples, please only take one. Never “grab and go.” Stop and acknowledge the vendor who is supplying the giveaway with a smile and a thank you to be courteous.

Picture-taking manners

  1. Be sure to have permission first. Ask if you may take a picture with a vendor or the items at her table. If she declines, be polite and understanding.
  2. Wait patiently. Never “photo bomb” someone else’s picture. If you are in a hurry to see a scheduled demonstration, come back later.
  3. Move to the side of the walkway when waiting in line for a picture to avoid blocking traffic.
  4. Remain seated during performances and demonstrations. Take pictures from your seat, being mindful that people are enjoying the show/demonstration behind you.

Hygiene etiquette

  1. When you are in crowded spaces, it is super important to remember to apply deodorant.
  2. Go easy on the perfume. It should be a pleasant surprise for those stepping near to speak with you, not an announcement to the entire room that you have arrived.
  3. Carry breath mints/breath spray with you to keep fresh breath when speaking to your friends and the vendors.
  4. Never wear pajamas in public.

Heidi Thomas

Heidi Thomas is a certified etiquette trainer from Sparkle and Shine Modeling and Etiquette program at GYDance. For more information on Thomas and the program, visit Greater York Dance's website,

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1 Response

  1. Bobbie Spera says:

    Love these tips Heidi!!

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