Most trade show booth staffers will tell you they dread downtime on the show floor. They enjoy being busy and talking with attendees, but when those slow periods hit, they can be awful.

Slow traffic can happen at different times. When a big keynote speaker is on the mainstage or on the last day of the show, downtime is expected. It’s just a fact of trade show life.

Even though you may experience downtime on the trade show floor, there are several things you can do to make the most out of the time (and money) you are spending to be there.

Consider it a hidden treasure of your trade show plan. Here are seven secrets we include in every trade show strategy we develop for our clients.

1. Gather Competitive Intelligence

If you are exhibiting at an industry trade show, odds are there is at least one competitor also exhibiting. Take advantage of downtime to visit competitive booths and see what they are showing, how they are interacting with attendees, and what their booth looks like.

2. Explore Partnership Opportunities

The quiet show hours are also a great time to seek out potential partner companies. Visiting other booths not only gives you a chance to check out the competition, but also seek out other companies to do business with in the future.

Learn about what’s happening in the marketplace and the companies serving it. Who knows what you will discover?

3. Check Out Other Booths

Walking the show floor and looking at the different booth styles is one of my favorite things to do. It is a great chance to see how other booths compare to your own.

It is also a great source of inspiration for future booth design and graphics. Be sure to take pictures.

4. Review Leads

Many lead retrieval companies now offer real-time access to your scanned leads. This means your team can review the leads at any time during the show.

Take advantage of the slow periods to review the leads in the database and make notes or comments that will further expedite the follow-up process once you return home.

5. Set up Press Meetings

Most press briefings are concluded by the last day of the show, but many members of the media will still be around to sit in on sessions and walk the show floor. This is a good time to schedule your own press meetings.

6. Give Staffers a Break

Reward your team with a much-needed and much-deserved break from standing in the booth. Give the team breaks in shifts or simply encourage people to step away for a few minutes for some fresh air. Trust me, it will be much appreciated.

7. Get Feedback from the Team

When you find yourself with some downtime, ask your team questions about their experience at the show. See what they think about the booth, conference sessions, networking time, and more. It is a perfect time for you to gather valuable insights and information that may impact your decision to participate the following year.

Slow booth traffic doesn’t mean you don’t have things to do. Make the most out of every minute you are on the trade show floor. Odds are you will go back to the office with more information and connections that you would have missed otherwise.

Pro tip: Whatever you do, resist the urge to start packing up things prior to the official end of the show. It sends a bad example to everyone who sees what you are doing. Especially the attendees. They will think you are no longer interested in talking with them. Don’t be "that" exhibitor.