Why There Is No Such Thing as “Downtime”
There's an old saying in the restaurant industry that says “if you've got time to lean, you've got time to clean.” Besides the fact that the best advice always rhymes, this phrase means that there’s always something to do as long if you look for it. This can absolutely be applied to the exhibit industry. There are always steps that you can take to make better use of the moment that you’re in now, to learn from what you've already done, and to better prepare yourself for what is to come. In truth, there is no such thing as “downtime” at an exhibit for a number of essential reasons.
“This Doesn't Feel Right”
To say that a trade show moves at a break-neck speed is something of an understatement. From the moment you and your team touchdown to the time you start packing up to go home a few days later, every second of your time is accounted for. In fact, true event professionals never sit around on their hands or wonder what to do.
So, if you suddenly find yourself with a break in your schedule where you don't seem to have any obligations, you should ask yourself “What am I forgetting to do?”
TIP #1: Look Around Your Exhibit
If things should get slow, it’s the perfect time to do some tidying up. Straighten lit racks, resupply giveaways, wipe down touch screens, pinch off a wilted flower in the reception arrangement. In fact, a little touch up here and there keeps the exhibit fresh throughout the day.
TIP #2: Collect Feedback from Booth Staff
How is the show going for them? No need to wait until the post-show assessment to find out from booth staff that many of the giveaway pens aren’t working or that the demos are too long for visitor attention spans. Even if these comments are made during the thick of things, downtime lets you resolve any issues the staff comes across before they impact your show success.
TIP #3: Assess the Competition’s Weak Spots
When the visitor stream lightens up, it might be the time to walk the show floor. Find out where your competition is located beforehand and take a stroll past their booth. What do you like about their look, their activities, their staff? Make some notes and remember them when it’s time to tweak your own presence at the next show.
TIP #4: You Never Know Who You Might Be Talking To
Here’s yet another reason why there is no such thing as “downtime” at an event. You never know who you might be talking to. That happy person enjoying a drink next to you at the bar, or waiting politely for the bus back to the hotel? Don't write him or her off as just another in a sea of faceless people walking the halls of the venue. That person just might have purchasing power at that big B2B company you've been trying to attract for years.
Engage. Talk about the weather or bring up your favorite sports team. Work to leave a positive impression. In the event that this person turns out to be important, it's an impression you'll be glad you made.
When you're away from your space or between visitors, you still need to be on at all times. At the venue or back at your hotel, it doesn't matter – the stakes are too high to ever truly take yourself “off the clock” at a trade show.