Shopping To Save Money On Your Trade Show Booth?

Trying to save money on your trade show booth is an important goal. It’s no secret that trade shows are one of the most expensive forms of promotion that a company can engage in.

Trade show booths are costly to set up and maintain, even just for a couple days, but in return you get a truly unique opportunity at marketing and outreach that will be one of the promotional centerpieces of your year. eSmart ECO-4019-B Island with ECO-11C Reception Podium

Despite the costs, there’s no other form of marketing you can engage in which can create so many live face-to-face interactions, or give you so much material to use and reuse for your promotional campaigns over the next year. So you get a lot for your money, as long as you can swing the setup costs. And if you plan correctly, you should reap large returns for that investment.

The key to getting the most for your trade show investments is smart use of money. Any way you can save money on your trade show booth materials, or cut costs for a show, will ultimately help justify the overall expenditures. Although many of the costs of trade show marketing are hidden in the costs at the show, and in the recurring costs like shipping drayage, install and dismantle costs, you can still save a lot of money by selecting the best way to obtain a trade show display. In other words, a key question is, what is the best way to obtain your trade show supplies in the first place.

Because the trade show market is booming, you’ve got more choices than ever. So, should you rent, buy new, or buy used? Let’s look at the advantages of each.

Finding The Right Trade Show Display Equipment For Your Budget

I – Renting Trade Show Supplies

If you want to get a great trade show display for the least possible up-front cost, renting is the way to go. Assuming the display materials are returned in good condition, you’ll be able to mount an trade show display at radically reduced costs. In some cases, only custom-printed materials might need to be purchased outright. (Obviously, if it has your brand on it, you’re keeping it afterwards.)

This is an especially good choice for companies mounting their first trade show and want a “try before you buy” scenario. It provides a cost-effective way of experimenting with exposition appearances without gambling a huge amount of money on hardware, furniture, display stands, and so forth.

It also gives you the opportunity to exhibit at a show and see what type of trade show booths your competitors are using, before you invest in a competitive booth.

Renting also gives you the opportunity to offer different “looks” at each show. First impressions matter, and having a new look each show might be worth the trade-off of lost savings in renting the display. However, if this is your goal, AND you do a lot of shows annually, you should evaluate displays that can be re-configured , and used with different graphics, so that it is almost impossible to tell it’s the same hardware in a different layout. (Check out displays like truss displays, many fabric hybrids, LITE displays, and Multi-Quad displays.)

Rental 10x10 VK-1126 Hybrid Portable Trade Show Displays Inline -- MEO Series - a great way to save money on your trade show booth

Rental 10×10 VK-1126 Hybrid Portable Trade Show Displays Inline — MEO Series

There’s also a strong one-and-done element to the billing here. Most or all of the charges will be known ahead of time, with few or no recurring costs like storing the equipment afterward.   Again, that makes it attractive for businesses, especially smaller firms, wanting the trade show experience without a large buy-in.

On the other hand, no investment means no ongoing returns either, which is what you lose out on by renting. Still, as the low-budget option, it could get you a great trade show display when no other option could be affordable. And many trade show suppliers, like us, will allow a credit from the booth rental to a purchase of a like or similar trade show booth.


II – Buying Trade Show Displays

The big argument in favor of owning your own materials is that of re-usability. The same basic equipment and hardware can be used across multiple trade shows. If you’re planning on doing more than one show in the same year, owning your own equipment will almost undoubtedly be the more cost-effective option. When properly stored, pieces can be reused for years with minimal upkeep, and new printed materials can quickly update the look of existing equipment.

The key factor is making sure your displays can be used as many times as possible. That means you should focus on portable trade show displays. These trade show booth displays offer lightweight, easy to setup displays. That light weight feature is worth paying for – it saves you money in shipping, drayage, and labor costs! And if one person can set up and take them your trade show display booth, then all of your salespeople will be happy to use them – and they won’t be late for client dinners or missing airplane flights while waiting to take down their booth!

For that matter, nothing says your trade show equipment only has to be used in trade shows. Ways to save money on your trade show booth include using it for other purposes. Many of our clients have great success re-purposing their banner stands, literature displays, or even tablet kiosks for their corporate lobby or other customer waiting areas.

Likewise, if you’re looking at hosting a post-show party for exclusive guests, the furniture for one can quickly become the furniture for another. Or, of course, electronics purchased for the show – such as tablets – can easily be moved into general work usage whenever they aren’t needed for a show. And all of your show items can be re-used at smaller regional shows, chamber of commerce meetings, etc.

Plus, while the initial investment is high, it will substantially reduce the costs for mounting future efforts. And it gives you total control of the exact design; you don’t have to settle for existing rental designs; instead, it can be spec’d out exactly the way you want it to look.

Additionally, many of the newest and most interesting display stands and pieces of electronics are only available to purchase new. If your company is looking to stand out with the best or fanciest display at a particular show, you’ll probably be buying it outright.

Of course, nothing says you couldn’t potentially resell the hardware later to recoup some of your expenses, especially if your direct marketing\sales benefits from the show have already provided solid ROI on the investment. At that point, reselling just adds a bit more to the overall value.

Speaking of which…


III. Buying Used Trade Show Booths

In many ways, purchasing pre-owned trade show hardware represents the sweet spot between investing in new hardware and doing one-and-done spends for rented equipment you’ll never see or use again.   With so many companies entering into so many trade shows, that creates a never-ending steam of gently-used equipment that can easily be put to use in your exposition displays instead.

One important element to remember here is that your booth hardware is unlikely to be “naked.” Tables, banner stands, and other such pieces are going to have custom-made printed materials on top of them. If the table beneath your logo tablecloth is a little scuffed, absolutely no one will notice. Likewise, since most banners almost entirely cover the banner stand frame, minor wear will be effectively invisible.

However, we do recommend sticking to quality hardware, when buying pre-owned. Many quality displays these days come with a lifetime warranty – check to see if one applies to the display on offer.  Obviously, any graphics will need to be replaced, because they won’t reflect your branding or products. Fabric-based display materials, if they are the high quality newer generation products, are a great choice, because they are light weight, easy to setup, and easy to maintain (fabric graphics can be machine washed).

Otherwise, by purchasing pre-owned, you also get all the same advantages of ownership, just at a reduced cost. It’s also a good way to pick up some less important elements of your booth – basic tables or flooring – to shave money off your expenditure. The only real trade-off, like we said above, is that you’re unlikely to find the latest-and-greatest in a secondhand sale.

But if you’re not shooting to be the belle of the ball, you can get an entirely functional and impressive trade display at substantial discounts this way.

Are you Shopping To Save Money On Your Trade Show Booth?

Just because trade show displays are expensive, it doesn’t meant they have to be prohibitively expensive. If you’re running the numbers and it seems like your booth can’t be made profitable, that’s the best time to contact an expert in trade show marketing.

American Image has been providing trade show display equipment since 1983, and we’ve seen the entire digital revolution in trade show marketing since the early days. Whether you need a classic booth, or one outfitted with all the latest electronic bells and whistles, we can take a look over your needs and suggest booth designs that fit both your goals AND your budget.

If you are thinking about doing shows abroad, check out our article on international trade show displays.

It is critical to keep the recurring costs for tradeshows in mind; if you are attending multiple shows, those recurring costs (shipping, drayage, install and dismantle time or costs), have a huge impact. Make sure to keep those costs in mind when selecting the best display type for  your shows.

For more information, check out our article on the best place to buy trade show displays.

And yes, share your budget – we can’t help make sure you meet your goals if they are a secret! We can also discuss your staffing needs, and employee training, to assume you’re bringing the necessary workers and getting the most productivity out of them while they’re there. No matter the budget, we can get you into a trade show with a great booth that your audience will love. Contact American Image today to get started!