Trade show budgets

Trade show budgets

Trade Show Budgets-Plan for Success

Trade show can be expensive ventures, no doubt. After you have decided which trade shows to attend and paid the necessary registration fees, there are numerous other important trade show budget items to consider. What exactly is included in a trade show budget? And how can you reduce your trade show budget without harming your trade show performance?

It is difficult to recognize a positive ROI when you haven’t calculated your trade show costs. According to trade show research, the following is a reasonable guideline for trade show budgets:

Booth space (registration fee): 29%
Exhibit design (graphics, materials, draping, signage, accessories): 16%
Show services (cleaning, waste removal, phone/fax lines, power): 17%
Travel & expenses (transportation, accommodation, meals, car rental, taxi): 13%
Shipping (freight and drayage): 12%
Advertising, promotion, special activities (direct mail, email, literature, giveaways): 12%
Other: 1%

Registration fee aside, approximately 70% of trade show expenses can be effectively managed by your company. Register as soon as you can to take advantage of any early-bird specials. For your exhibit design, consider purchasing a previously-enjoyed booth or try renting a booth if it is your first trade show, or if you only attend one or two shows per year. Or put creative minds to work and subject your current display to a makeover instead of purchasing a new booth.

Avoid premium show service fees by ordering these services in advance from an external source. If you must avail yourself of the show services, make payment as soon as possible to avoid skyrocketing late fees. And take time to read your show’s Exhibitor Manual – quite often you can avoid rising costs by registering for any necessary show services earlier rather than later.

Travel and accommodation costs can be reduced through advance planning. Airlines, trains, buses and hotels often offer deals to travelers who book early. Do some research and reap the rewards. Remember that employees tend to live more grandly when dining and entertaining on the company purse, so consider a per diem allowance or require receipts to control excessive employee expenses. You can even reward employees who spend under their stipend with a refund or other incentive.

Advanced planning can cut shipping costs too. Comparison shopping will enable you to find the best deal on shipping and ensure timely delivery. Avoid drayage (the cost to ship the display from your company to a warehouse, and then to the show floor) by having your display shipped to your hotel room and then transport the display to the show yourself. Hotels and trade shows usually have carts available, provided your display isn’t too cumbersome.

Delaying your trade show planning can also result in expensive rush charges for graphic design work, printing, and imprinting/producing promotional items. Did you know that trade show organizers often offer companies free or low-cost promotional opportunities? Take advantage of a product display area, include your company name in the category listing in the trade show’s directory, or invest in their website advertising. Your planning process should commence 6 to 9 months prior to your trade show.

You can also consult your staff for other ideas to reduce your trade show budget. Remember, though, to retain staff training opportunities in your budget. Staff training is a valuable income generator when it comes to trade shows, and should be considered part of the budget. Staff who exhibit effective body language, a positive attitude and knowledge help to attract and retain visitors to your booth, and can create prospects for future leads and sales.

A smart, well-planned trade show budget is key to achieving maximum value from each trade show. With careful analysis of your lead results, sales data and projected future outcomes, you can determine the real value of your trade show investment.