Patching Six Of The Biggest Holes In Your Exhibit Budget

Participating in a trade show is usually a very expensive proposition. Your exhibit budget can balloon out of control before you even realize what’s happening. How do you keep the whole thing from exploding, and hang on to your money? Check out these six areas of your exhibit budget and see where you can save some dough at your next show.

1) Exhibit Space
This cost can eat up 25-35% of your total exhibit budget. It’s hard to economize here, but there are some ways to make sure you’re getting the most value for your money.

First, get your space request in as quickly as you can. While seniority means previous exhibitors get first crack at the best locations, you’ll want to be first in line for available spaces.

At most shows, you can still get a great location even after the seniority picks. And you’ll pay the same for a better space than you would if you wound up in a corner because you were the last in line. So this is one of those cases where the early bird really does get the worm.

Second, get only the space you need. At some shows, it pays to “go big.” At other, smaller shows, you may want to scale back and use less space and a smaller booth to promote your presence at the show.

2) Exhibit Design

Here’s a situation where you want to spend the money in your exhibit budget at the outset, because it’ll potentially pay dividends for years to come. You want a booth that doesn’t just look good, but also meets your exhibiting objectives. Be careful to identify your design requirements so that you can maximize potential savings in recurring costs; this generally means design the booth to be lightweight, easy to set up, and modular, so it can be reconfigured as needed.

Using portable or modular exhibits can save you money at every stage of your exhibit budget. For starters, if you’re working with a ten by ten booth, a portable can be the best answer. It’s just the right size for the exhibit. It can be highly customized to meet your needs. And, you can set it up yourself, without shouldering the costs of I&D expenses.

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Portables and modular have other advantages, as well. They’re usually designed to be lighter than custom exhibits. They also pack smaller, in lighter-weight cases, many of which can become your counter or podium at the show.

Design features like these, that save you money every time you use your booth, are the most important part of your exhibit budget, because those recurring costs – or recurring savings – might make or break your planning. Done correctly, your exhibit budget will thank you over and over for the careful choices that you make at this stage.

3) Exhibit Transportation
Getting your exhibit from its point of origin (your office or warehouse) to the show location can cost a great deal of money. Some exhibitors save by shipping their booth from one show to the next, instead of back home after each show. There can be storage costs involved, but it’s wise to pencil them out and see if it doesn’t make sense for you to do this, too.

Another way to save on shipping costs is to check your exhibitor’s manual and find the cut-off dates for regular shipping. Shipping at the last minute always incurs surcharges, so do everything you can to get your booth to the show with time to spare. Not to belabor the point, but the lighter your exhibit design is, the lower your shipping costs will be.

4) Drayage

This is the fee you pay for having your booth delivered from the exhibit hall’s storage facilities to your booth space. How can you save here?

Again, you can begin a few steps back, with the design process. Drayage is based on the weight of your booth, and common charges are in the $200 per hundred-weight range. Thus, a 10ft booth shipped in a crate that weighs 400 lbs will cost at least twice as much as a 50 lb popup design that shipped in a single wheeled case. So incorporating fabric panels and other lightweight materials in your booth’s design will favorably impact your exhibit budget, as far as drayage is concerned.

5) Installation & Dismantle

This cost is for the help you receive from the exhibit hall’s professional workers to set up and tear down your booth. Many shows use union workers with minimums (minimum hours, minimum laborers), so you can easily find yourself needing to hire a 2 man crew for 4 hours,m when the job might only really take one or two hours.

Again, you can save money in the design or booth selection process by purchasing a portable or modular booth that either doesn’t require I&D at all, or requires only a minimal amount. Modern modular booths that are designed to minimize or eliminate tools, with parts that slip together quickly are the way to go. Your choices in your exhibit design are impacting your exhibit budget at every single show.

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6) Promotions and Give-Aways
These activities can be very effective in driving traffic to your display. The problem is, you’re spending money out of this part of your exhibit budget to give things to people who may not represent any return-on-investment (ROI). If you’re not wooing potential customers to your booth, you’re throwing money away. How do you fix this?

trade show booth island rental with meeting room kiosks workstations and large curved overhead banner

Island rental booth with meeting room, kiosks workstations and large curved overhead banner.

Determine how you want to qualify prospects and potential customers. This separates them from the rest of the crowd at the show. Once you’ve qualified a prospect, use your higher-priced premium items for them to help seal the deal.

You might also consider having a much lower-priced item to hand out more liberally, saving your best merchandise for the best prospects. This puts your resources where they’ll give you the best return, cutting down on wasted premium spending by a significant amount.

Whatever you might need to help your company exhibit effectively, talk to American Image Displays. We’ve been helping newbie exhibitors and established companies get the most out of their exhibit budgets for over 30 years. Whether you need a tabletop, pop-up, or fully custom island exhibit, we represent virtually every major manufacturer, worldwide. You get great pricing and even better service, before and after the sale. To learn more, call (800) 676-3976 or email [email protected].