Trade Show Budgeting

Trade Show Budgeting

So you’ve decided to exhibit at a trade show. That’s great, but have you thought about all of the costs you need to budget for?  There may be some expenses you may not know about, which can ruin your trade show budget if not planned for properly.

A simple way to start planning your trade show budget is to:

Define the purpose of your trade show display. What is the size of the booth space? Do you need hanging signage to compete with your neighboring exhibitors? Are you incorporating technology such as projection mapping or augmented reality?  What type of show you are attending?  Who are the key attendees?  Defining your overall goals for the show will help you decide how to spend your trade show budget.

Define your brand personality. What do you want your exhibit to look like? Do you want something simple? Or are you looking for a high-end booth that will WOW the show attendees? Prioritizing the features of your booth will allow you to purposefully manage the overall total trade show budget.

Knowing the maximum amount you can spend at this show will help you determine a real return on your objectives. However, there are more than booth and promotion expenses to consider when exhibiting at a trade show.

A typical trade show cost breakdown may include:

  • Exhibit Space
  • Travel & Entertainment
  • Show Services (shipping, drayage, install/dismantle labor, electrical, rigging, etc.)
  • Exhibit Design and Fabrication
  • Pre-show Promotion and Giveaways
  • Miscellaneous

Once you have a better understanding of the type of booth you want, you can start constructing your trade show budget. Keep in mind, your trade show costs may change depending on the city, time of year, and venue.

Hitachi trade show display by DesignShop

A simple way to calculate a ballpark budget for exhibiting is to:

Use your booth space size to calculate the approximate design and fabrication costs for your exhibit.  For example, if your booth space size is a 20’ x 20’ island, or 400 square feet, the square footage cost should be around $160.00, or $64,000.00 to purchase.  For a rental exhibit of the same size, the square footage cost can drop down to $110.00, or $44,000.00.  These are approximate costs used for illustration purposes and, as mentioned above, depend on a variety of factors including the technology used in the exhibit. 

Some trade show industry average costs to reference:

  • Labor Rates: $100-150 per man hour
  • Exhibit Costs: $110 -175 per square foot
  • Drayage Rates (per hundred weight): $95 - $120

If you have questions on planning and managing your trade show budget, give us a call. We will be happy to assist you in having a productive show that won’t break the bank.


Now you're ready to start planning for your next trade show! Get started by checking out some custom trade show exhibit ideas, or click here to contact our team.

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