• 06, JULY 2020

Pop-Up Staffing: 3 Things You Need to Know

Finding the right talent to represent your brand or company can be a challenge. For a pop-up shop or event, you need people who excel in representing your brand, engaging with attendees, and who are reliable and personable. And when you are hiring that person in a temporary and often-changing environment, that challenge suddenly gets a whole lot bigger.

But pop-ups continue to show that they are worth the effort. According to the business website Retail Customer Experience, 70% of retail interactions happen offline. In-person moments matter when it comes to consumer engagement. Not to mention, many brands need a physical space in which to deliver their core offering – think Shakespeare in the Park, or even the Renaissance Fair. These places can’t sell online – they have to pop-up by their very nature.

However, the fact that pop-up events or pop-up shops aren’t permanent doesn’t have to be a deal-breaker when it comes to providing an amazing experience for your customer. You just need to know the ins-and-outs of how to hire excellent staff.


3 Key Ingredients to Successful Pop-Up Staffing

The first question often is, where do we start? Maybe more accurately, where do we find pop-up event staff that are experts in that space and will deliver amazing moments to attendees?

Below we share 3 secrets that should always be kept in mind when staffing for pop-ups.


1: Recruitment Needs to Be Thorough – and It Won’t Be Easy

For a pop-up to succeed, you need people who understand your brand, can internalize key messaging, and deliver a world-class experience to the customer. Pop-ups are incredible in driving excitement and creating a fear of missing out because they provide a unique brand adventure. But, you simply can’t achieve that level of emotion if you have people on site who don’t measure up.

Simply posting the job on Indeed doesn’t make for effective pop-up staffing. Recruitment should be treated as a multi-faceted process to deliver brand-matched staff. Instead of starting with a resume, video interviews are a great way to get to know your potential hires. Have candidates upload a short video explaining a bit about themselves and their background so you can get a sense of their personality and see exactly how they will add value to your activation. You can have them address specific qualifying questions, like if they enjoy interacting with families, or have experience aiding people who need accessibility accommodations.

Once you’ve hired great people, thorough training – plus a dress rehearsal – is integral to setting the staff up for success and ensuring a seamless first day (and beyond). Seeing staff in action before start day also gives you an idea of which people thrive in particular environments. It also reveals their strengths so you can assign them to the right roles.



2: Contingencies are King, Because the Only Constant Will Be Change

pop up staffing plans

Unlike traditional brick and mortar stores, pop-ups are here one minute and gone the next. Sometimes pop-up shops will be extended, either for the day or for weeks after they planned to end. Sometimes they will be slow and require less staff than expected. You need contingency plans, including a staffing infrastructure that accounts for last-minute changes and scales alongside the needs of the activation.

Training a core pool of qualified candidates to draw from is a great way to ensure you have readily available staff in place no matter what. Data gathering and real-time reporting throughout the event will quickly give you an idea of how many people should be onsite at what time of day, so you can quickly scale up or down depending on the needs of the activation.

And set expectations with the team. Upon hiring, let them know that acting as backup staff for certain days of the event will be required, so you’re always able to adapt to event needs. Equally, staff should know upon hiring that an early release is likely when business is slow.


3: Attendee Experience is Everything: Execute Your Pop-Up with Built-In Quality Controls

Every activation can be improved upon, and pop-up shops and pop-up events are no exception. Setting benchmarks at the launch of the activation and monitoring over time will demonstrate where tweaks can be made to improve the attendee experience.

Don’t just tell staff what to say or what to do. Let them know how critical their role is in your success. Ensure they understand the objective of the activation, the KPIs, and where they fit in. Think of traditional or creative ways to incentivize them for reaching targets. This can be a daily or hourly bonus, preference when scheduling, awarding prizes, and much more. Consider using games or contests, or simply make achieving goals fun and worthwhile for your team.

Having a healthy reporting and data capture mechanism in place is not only a great way to assess the effectiveness of your activation, but also determine staff performance. If some staff members seem to be lagging behind others, build out a system that begins with coaching and mentoring by management or high-performing staff. Continue to monitor their progress. If things don’t improve, you will know that it is probably time to find a replacement. Ensure these management protocols are enacted swiftly and early so your activation can operate optimally.


Pop-Up Staffing in the Era of the Pandemic

Last but not least, make sure you’re looking after your people. The pandemic has changed the face of events worldwide, especially in-person activations. Modern pop-up staffing requires we provide all staff members with CDC/WHO-level health and safety training and listen to their feedback related to the work environment. Remember that happy, confident, and productive staff = a greater consumer experience.


Now Is the Time to Pop-Up

Pop-up events and pop-up shops are the present and the future. Especially when it comes to potential opening and closing of society due to the virus, pop-ups allow brands and companies to deliver experiences to consumers with more flexibility, scalability, and cost efficiencies than relying on traditional methods.

But the reality is, your pop-up is only as good as the event staff representing you. By finding the right people and using pop-up specific management and training techniques, you will be set up to deliver pop-up perfection.

Elevate is a global staffing agency that connects people with brands. Our proprietary event staffing methodology, coupled with a proprietary technology and reporting platform, help to ensure our clients’ pop-up dreams become a reality.

Author: Nick Riggall


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