So, you're ready to register as an exhibitor for upcoming trade show. Now what? Before you dive into the planning process, step back and take a hard look at your budget. Whether it's your first show or your tenth, setting an accurate budget will be difficult if you aren't weighing your options and thinking through all potential costs. 

Don’t Underestimate & Do Your Research

First thing to remember: don’t underestimate your costs and be realistic about what you can spend.

Do your research by reading through your Show Manual, Trade Show Contract, and Exhibitor’s Kit. Each show will have very specific rules and regulations that you must abide by – including a variety of costs associated with drayage, shipping, missed deadline fees, service forms, and more.

Costs to Expect

1. Booth & Booth Space

In general, you should allocate 33% of your entire trade show budget for the space itself, and another 20% on the design and construction of your booth. Trade shows typically charge by the square footage of your booth space, so keep this in mind as you decide on the size and type of your booth.

The bulk of your remaining budget will then go towards marketing, show services, and staff-related costs.

2. Marketing & Lead Generation

This includes activities before, during, and after the show. Determine how much to spend on advertising, press kits, sponsorships, giveaways, lead collection, and collateral. And don't forget about any costs associated with lead follow up after the event.

It's also best practice to allocate 1% to 3% of your budget to measuring your event ROI and ROO, so you can prove (and improve) your strategy for the future.

3. Services & Fees

Trade show services may include freight, drayage, electric, technology/AV, booth installation and dismantle, carpet and flooring, booth cleaning, furniture rental, and security. If you're working with an exhibit house, they should be able to provide guidance on the services you’ll need for your booth. Don’t be afraid to ask questions!

Trade show participants may need to also pay attendance fees. Avoid missed deadlines (and late fees) by carefully reading the materials provided by the show.

4. Staffing

There are a few variables to consider when it comes to staffing your booth. Will you hire temporary staff or bring your own employees? What are the travel requirements and necessary training activities? Other factors to include are meals, daily transportation to and from the show, uniforms, and registration fees for each person. 

If your own employees will work the booth, it's also important to consider the time commitment and if their absence might negatively impact the rest of the team back home.

Start Early

In an ideal world, you'll have a year to plan and prepare for the show (although success is entirely possible with less time than that). That being said, by allowing ample time for research so that you find the best option for your company will give you room to breathe as the event gets closer.

Partner with an Exhibit House

Choosing an exhibit house that has experience with answering trade show questions and concerns while being respectful of your needs will go a long way in helping you budget and cut costs for your trade show.

As your trade show looms, we do whatever it takes to make sure you can sleep well at night by being at your side through every step of the process. We pride ourselves in putting our heart and soul into each client’s exhibit to bring their exhibit dreams to reality.