Everyone’s favorite part of marketing is working on budgets, right? Well...maybe not. But with a little background info, budgeting for your trade show booth doesn’t have to be a bummer.

After you’ve determined your total trade show allowance, here’s how to budget for the pièce de résistance:

Step 1:
Estimate booth costs

Your trade show booth budget should factor in all costs associated with your display. Some costs are obvious, and some are a little sneaky. To play it safe, make sure you include the following:

  • Booth design and production: According to results from the Experiential Designers & Producers Association’s 2017 Economic (Custom) Survey, listed by EXHIBITOR, the average cost for booth design and production falls between $137 and $161.17 per square foot. In-line exhibits average $1,370 per lineal foot. Double-deck islands average $237 per square foot of total area.
    These figures should help you understand how much booth will fit in your budget.
  • Carpet and padding: Don’t be the rookie with their exhibit on the bare floor! When budgeting for your trade show booth, account for carpeting (and padding) to keep staffers and visitors comfortable.
  • Costs associated with booth size and shape: A large display is sure to make a splash, but will also require a heftier space investment at each trade show. Committing to the one-time production cost of a large-scale booth will also be a commitment to paying for premium locations at each event.
    Fortunately, many design options are scalable and can be rearranged to suit a variety of exhibit spaces. Survey your options while budgeting for your trade show booth. 
  • Setup and breakdown: The larger and more complex your booth is, the more you’ll need to spend to have it installed and taken down.
    The industry estimate for a 20x20 booth is about 28 hours for setup (between three workers). General display labor will cost around $100 per hour, with specialized labor like forklift operators starting around $200 per hour.

    Once again, setup costs for larger and more detailed exhibits will take up more of your trade show booth budget. 
  • Transportation and storage: Storage containers will likely be produced along with your custom exhibit. The cost of shipping them between events and their storage location will vary depending on the size, weight, and amount of containers. This is a trade show booth budget variable to consider when selecting the size of your exhibit and the materials used.

  • Drayage: In addition to the shipping, storage, setup, and breakdown of your exhibit, you will also need to account for drayage.
    Drayage refers to the transportation of your booth and its materials across the show floor to your actual booth space, and if you’re not careful, can actually cost you more than you paid to ship your materials to the show. Worried about other unexpected fees? Check out this blog.


Step 2:
Decide whether to buy or rent your exhibit


There’s no easy answer to this one. The most important factor to consider is whether frequent trade show participation is part of your company’s long-term marketing strategy. If so, investment in a custom exhibit is likely the way to go.

If trade shows are a brand new or infrequent addition to your marketing plan, a customizable rental exhibit might be the perfect choice. We break it down in more detail here

Step 3:
Leave some wiggle room 

When you notice an unallocated amount in your trade show allowance, it may be tempting to add it to your booth budget. However, it’s wise to reserve some extra funds for unexpected costs and last-minute incentives that arrive around the date of the event. Err on the side of caution, especially if you’re new to the trade show world.

With some careful planning, you’ll nail this trade show booth budgeting. If you still have a few questions, check in with our exhibit gurus to explore your options. We’re happy to help you prepare for trade show success!

Tags: Booth Design