Trade Show Carpenters Take Customer Service to the Next Level

Houston’s best trade show technicians recently spent time honing a critical skill that could mean success or failure for the local exhibition industry, and it had nothing to do with setup or teardown. They focused on customer service and how to give Houston trade show customers an exceptional experience, for the good of the entire business supply and delivery chain.

Training was a team effort among the Exhibition Services & Contractors Association (ESCA), the Central South Carpenters Regional Council, the George R. Brown Convention Center and the Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau.

“Trade show technicians impact industries across the world based on what they create and how they interact with customers. From the local economy to global commerce, what happens on a trade show floor lays the foundation for success. And what drives that success is outstanding customer service,” said Jason Engels, Central South Carpenters’ Executive Secretary-Treasurer.

“The bottom line is this: The customer’s perception of their experience with the trade show is the trade show technician’s reality. This training reinforced the importance of making that perception positive.”

Dozens of Central South carpenter trade show technicians volunteered for the training. Additional skilled tradespeople from Houston’s teamsters and decorators also took part.

“We represent the face of the company we work for and nothing is as important as representing our employer with great work and an excellent attitude,” said Christie Reams of Central South Carpenters in Houston.

The training – “Delivering Exceptional Customer Service” – focused on customer engagement, creating a great experience, listening skills, appearance, and problem solving. Participants studied and practiced world-class customer service strategies such as exceeding customer expectations, creating a positive experience for every customer, and finding opportunities to accommodate customer needs in unique and unexpected ways.

Guy Langlais is Senior Director of Labor Relations for Global Experience Specialists (GES) and one of the authors of the training program. “We heard from our vendors that there was a need for this training. I believe our participants now understand that they’re professionals and they can make a difference,” Langlais said.

At the George R. Brown Convention Center, all employees are given customer service training, making the skilled trades’ involvement a natural part of the plan, according to Director of Operations, David Osterhout (shown on the left).

“This is a team effort here. We want them to reach out and make our vendors feel welcome and to service their needs. This training shows what an integral part our technicians are to the process,” Osterhout said.

“We are only as good as the service we provide,” added Nathan Tollett, Director of Convention Sales for the Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau. “This training is part of an expanding scope of customer service. At the end of the day, how engaging we are will influence if visitors have a positive or negative experience. We want to collaboration with all of our hospitality partners in Houston.”

In the thick of things is Dave Egan, a near four-decade trade show veteran technician who is now the Installation and Dismantle and Rigging Manager for Freeman Company. He is also a member of the Texas Carpenters’ Joint Apprenticeship Training Committee, and played a key role in coordinating the training program.

Egan was happy to see the teamsters and decorators join in the carpenters’ training. The two-day training hosted Carpenters from Local 551, Teamsters from Local 988, and Decorators from Local 550. Freeman staff also participated in the training, including its freight manager, operations director, general manager and several foremen.

“We’re all part of the overall picture regardless of our perspectives,” Egan said. “This training will only strengthen our overall product to customers.”

In addition to this customer service training, Central South Carpenters in Houston undergo a 62-hour trade show class and a 8-hour refresher courses that must be done every three years. This Trade Show Installation and Dismantling Qualification Program creates experts in:

·      First aid/CPR

·      Safety and Haz-Com

·      Layout

·      Pipe and Drape

·      Carpeting Techniques

·      Tables and skirting

·      Patented Systems/Pop-ups

·      Proper Rigging Techniques and Safety

·      Custom Booths

·      Operator License for Fork Truck, Aerial Lift and Scissor Lift

“Quality training produces profits for everyone,” added Central South’s Engels. “Our trained technicians put themselves in the exhibitor’s position and conduct themselves with the company’s best interest in mind.”