How to Budget for a Tradeshow

Construction site crane building a blue 3D text. Part of a series.

Whether you are a seasoned tradeshow exhibitor or new to the trade show circuit, this post should help you budget for your next tradeshow. Much like managing a household budget, business owners must consider revenue streams and available cash flow before embarking on any form of marketing–including displaying products at a tradeshow. But rather than anticipating a mountain of bills at the end of a tradeshow journey, stay positive by considering the potential return on investment (ROI).

Although some costs associated with exhibiting at a tradeshow are fixed, such as cost-per-foot to display and registration fees, others vary based on the location and type of event as well as your goals for participating. Before setting your budget, carefully (and realistically) assess anticipated costs. Here are four to consider:

  1. Daily Expenses — the cost to travel (if necessary), per diem (money for food and lodging), as well as associated personnel costs. Don’t forget about the need to hire replacement staff if you usually work in-house. Also, you will need to take entertainment into account. After all; if you are going to a tradeshow, you won’t want to hide out in your hotel room before and after tradeshow hours. If you have a startup and are on a tight budget, save money by booking through Airbnb or VRBO and, instead of renting a car in the tradeshow city, use a service like Uber or Lyft.
  2. Marketing Materials— brochures, business cards, signage, promotional items or samples, as well as the product itself. If your items are in the prototype phase, that’s okay. Just come with prototype in hand, and maybe even consider pre-ordering 3-D printed samples, so you will have more than one item on display at the show.
  1. Exhibit Space—this isn’t just relegated to what you will pay to rent display space. Additional charges should also be considered, such as shipping your display materials as well as facility-charges for pickup, delivery and setup, oftentimes referred to as “material handling fees.” Although each location is different, you should be able to safely apportion 40% of your budget to renting floor space and creating your display. When it comes to paying for floor space, you may be able to get a substantial discount if you register early. Call the event organizer to check on special rates. According to Exhibitor Magazine, the cost of a 10’ x 10’ space is right around $2,200.
    Businesswomen presentation of the new brand at the exhibition or stand
  2. Display–The more you display at tradeshows, the easier it will be to anticipate and plan for the costs associated with outfitting your tradeshow exhibit. One thing to consider is whether you need to build a booth for a simple one-time use or if you plan on using it at several different shows. While some venues rent display space, you may be surprised to learn that you may want to invest in inexpensive, durable options such as Xylea-wood, which is lightweight (which will save you in terms of shipping and material handling fees at the show). Bringing your own display setup is wise because it will save you in terms of merchandising. In other words, if you bring the same display materials to every show you do, you will learn exactly where everything goes. This will save you time and frustration.

Exhibiting at a tradeshow located far from your place of business can be expensive. So it may behoove you to consider a local tradeshow if you are new to tradeshows. But, if you’re ready to branch out, you should probably try to budget at least $5,000 for your first tradeshow. Admittedly, that may seem like a huge chunk of change if you’re just a startup. But, remember; you need to focus not on amount spent but on potential earnings.

If you are considering taking part in an industry trade show, check out the attractive, lightweight, affordable trade show display and kiosk solutions available by Xylea-Wood. Our patented technology is an eco-friendly answer to your trade show, kiosk and display needs—twice as strong as conventional materials. Call (909) 860-2695 or click here to email us today for details about our display solutions.