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Managing the Expense of Trade Show Booth Orders

Updated: Feb 5




Trade shows provide invaluable opportunities for businesses to showcase their products, network with industry professionals, and attract potential customers. However, one of the critical considerations for companies participating in trade shows are the expenses associated with essential booth orders. As these costs rise, it’s important to understand the factors that influence costs and how best to navigate the economic challenges.

Cost Fluctuations

The cost of operating a trade show booth is not only on the rise, but the cost variances from one show to another are seemingly arbitrary. Last month, two different clients, each exhibiting in a show scheduled a week apart from the other – both in the same city – purchased an identical wastebasket with a price variance that was surprising.

After the pre-show savings date – one wastebasket was priced at $48, the other at $92. This was the highest price for this product – and also the biggest price fluctuation – I’ve ever seen.

Decorator Fees Aren’t the Only Unpredictable trade show Costs

Labor costs are also higher than normal and fluctuate wildly for straight time versus overtime. Recently, I found that straight time pay for hanging a sign versus overtime pay for the same job was a difference of several thousand dollars. What does this say about price gauging in our industry?

Is This a Reflection of Post-COVID Pricing from Decorators to Exhibitors?

According to analytics from SmartXpo and Profisy, “post-COVID, the majority (57%) of trade shows have been able to achieve 7% annual price increases for booth space, significantly greater than pre-pandemic price increases.” Exhibitors are being forced into paying more to exhibit, as reported by TSNN, and now we’re seeing in real-time that they are having to pay what sometimes seems arbitrarily higher costs for the items they need for their booths.

Managing Exhibit Costs

There are many costs that exhibitors can’t control, but with the regular occurrence of these kinds of fluctuations – buying  essential booth items in advance versus buying closer to date of the show, and requesting labor during normal working hours versus scheduling labor on a weekend and paying overtime – being proactive and making decisions about booth needs sooner than later can help. The factors below can also impact your overall booth costs.

Size and Layout

The size and layout of your trade show booth play a significant role in determining costs. Larger booths with intricate designs generally incur higher expenses. A well-thought-out layout may enhance your brand visibility and engagement with attendees, but it often comes with a higher price tag.

Customization and Branding

Customized booths that align with your brand identity and messaging can make a lasting impression on visitors. However, customization often translates to increased costs. Balancing a visually appealing booth with budget constraints is crucial.

Graphics and Signage

High-quality graphics and signage are essential for achieving visibility. Investing in professionally designed graphics can elevate the visual appeal of your booth but may also contribute to higher expenses.

Technology Integration

Incorporating technology, such as interactive displays, touchscreen interfaces, lead generation retrieval tools, or virtual reality elements, enhance trade show engagement and ultimately bring in more leads. However, these tech-savvy additions often come with additional costs for equipment, installation, and maintenance.

Logistics and Shipping

The trade show location, the travel distance, and the shipping methods all impact logistical costs. Planning for these expenses, including storage and transportation, is crucial if you hope to avoid unforeseen budget overruns.

Drayage and Installation

Drayage fees cover the movement of goods from the loading dock to your booth space. Additionally, the cost of booth installation and dismantling should be factored into your budget. Hiring professionals for these services can streamline the process but can also increase expenses.

Show Services and Utilities

Trade shows often require additional services, such as electricity, internet connectivity, and water supply. Understanding the venue's service fees, and planning accordingly for these expenses, can help you avoid unexpected costs.

Insurance and Permits

Some trade shows may require exhibitors to have insurance coverage or specific permits. These costs should be considered in the overall budget to ensure compliance with event regulations.

Effectively managing the expenses associated with trade show booth orders requires careful planning, a clear understanding of your brand objectives, and a realistic assessment of your budget. It also requires taking a proactive approach. As you can see from the experience I have shared, ordering early can save a significant amount of money. By considering the various factors that influence costs and understanding the range of pricing, businesses can make informed decisions to ensure a successful and cost-effective presence at trade shows. ExpoVention can help. Get in touch!

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