I Work Trade Shows and Conventions on the Las Vegas Strip



  • Tawny Triska Pollard works as a trade-show and convention model in Las Vegas.
  • Her days begin at 6 or 7 a.m., and working the convention floor can go as late as 7:30 p.m.
  • There are perks such as seeing Janet Jackson perform, but she deals with men hitting on her daily.

This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with Tawny Triska Pollard, a 37-year-old trade-show and convention model in Las Vegas, about her job. Her income has been verified with documentation by Insider. The following has been edited for length and clarity.

For the past nine years, I’ve worked in the trade-show and convention industry as a spokesmodel, brand ambassador, lead generator, model-team lead, and floor manager. I live in Las Vegas with my husband of 11 years and our corgi, but I’ve worked in cities such as Los Angeles, San Diego, New York, San Francisco, and Houston.

Each show and client is slightly different, but my job is usually to stay within my client’s booth, greet attendees, strike up a conversation, and deliver a few keynotes about whichever company or product I’m representing.

After introducing them to the product, I scan the visitor’s badge and pass them off to the sales guys in the booth who actually works for the company. If I’m heading up a team of models, my job is to oversee them throughout the show, create break schedules, make sure everyone is properly doing their job, and keep the client happy.

My wages vary monthly, as I’m an independent contractor, but I make anywhere from $3,500 to $6,500 a month.

I fell into the field in 2014

I used to be a personal trainer, and my friend who was a model had a client looking for girls who were into fitness to travel around the country and represent them at fitness trade shows. They hired me, and I soon realized I could make a living doing trade shows.

I land jobs a few ways. I work with multiple agencies that represent models nationwide. I’m not exclusive to anyone, and the agencies I work with represent shows in Southern California and Las Vegas. Once I make a good impression, I usually get hired again by the same clients.

woman in a black dress at a convention

Pollard working a show.

Courtesy of Tawny Triska Pollard

Most of the shows I do are in the tech field, including CES, InfoComm, and Black Hat. I work about one show a week, so three to four shows a month, and each show runs anywhere from two to five days. I technically work part time, which is why I love it — it gives me so much flexibility.

Most the time, I wear a black professional suit with black flats. For shows like SEMA, sometimes the client will ask me to wear a car-racing outfit or something that’s a little more gimmicky. But for the tech shows, the clients want us to appear as if we work for the company, so we’re asked to wear either business casual or business professional with our full hair and makeup done.

A normal show morning usually starts about 6 or 7

It takes me an hour and a half to get fully ready. On the first day of a show, I arrive at least 30 minutes before my call time, which is usually between 8:30 and 9 a.m.

Once I have my credentials, I navigate my way to the booth and introduce myself to the client if I haven’t worked with them before. I’ll get a brief training on whatever the product or service is that they’re selling.

I usually get an hour lunch. Some shows, like the ones that happen at hotels, feed us buffet-style lunches, which is always nice. But in convention centers, you’re on your own, and I’m not going to lie, the food options aren’t great. I also have a plant-based diet, which makes it even harder. Packing a lunch is always smart.

Shows typically end about 5 p.m. It’s not especially unusual for a show to end as late as 7:30 p.m., and that’s a long time to be on your feet. On the longer days, we usually get a few more 15- to 20-minute breaks here and there, which helps.

If you can pick information up fast and deliver it well, you’ll be ahead of the game. Some clients couldn’t care less if you know much about what they’re offering, though. Sometimes it’s as simple as greeting attendees, scanning badges, and passing out giveaways, which is mindless work. Personally, I like a challenge, so I enjoy the clients who want me to pick up some pointers and deliver them.

I’ve seen my share of cool things at shows

The wildest show I’ve ever done was San Diego Comic-Con in 2017, where I worked for one of the biggest game companies in the world and a major streaming service. There was a massive “Game of Thrones” panel, and people lined up days beforehand to see it. Getting into it was nearly impossible, especially for someone working the floor. But my lead knew I loved “GOT,” and he gave me a media pass for a few hours, which allowed me into the panel. I bypassed the entire line and walked right in.

Shows in Las Vegas throw a lot of big after-parties, which we’re allowed to attend with our badge. I saw Janet Jackson perform up close and personal at one after-party. One show puts on a music festival in downtown Las Vegas as its closing party, and Martin Garrix, who just so happens to be my favorite DJ, was the headliner last year. There are always open bars and food, so there are definitely some fun perks to my job.

There’s a darker side to it as well

Men constantly hit on you, especially at the Vegas shows, and we don’t typically receive tips. I had one guy come up to me and proceed to tell me his entire sexual history. An hour later, he was still going, and the company I was working for had to rescue me. Receiving pickup lines and getting phone numbers handed to me on a note are things I have to deal with on a daily basis.

I think something that many people get wrong about the industry I work in is that we just stand around and smile, but that’s not true. Most of the time, we’re expected to pick up information fast, which is a skill in and of itself.

It’s hard work and very draining. You have to smile and be constantly on while standing for hours. It takes a certain personality to do it — you better like people if you want to do this job.


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