Stick to Your Trade Show Budget

It seems no matter how well you plan, your small business’ budget meets challenges right and left. Trade shows can offer some of those challenges, but with careful planning, you can be in control of your next exhibition and not have to worry about unexpected costs.

The biggest expense you’ll face at a trade show is the cost of your display. Many companies try to offset this expense by simply renting pre-fabbed displays. This isn’t always cost-effective, though, as you’ll invariably be nailed with extra costs to customize your booth, and the seasonal demand of rented displays can be inconvenient. A better solution is to incorporate the cost of your own trade show booth display into your annual budget, making allowances for additions and changes. By designing a booth that allows for larger or smaller configurations, you can adapt your display for any venue you choose to attend.

The cost of your space at a trade show will obviously vary with the event, and with the size and location of the booth. Going bigger isn’t necessarily the best idea when you have your choice of booth sizes. If you have an adaptable display, the actual location of your booth may be more important than the size of the space you occupy on the exhibition floor. If your resources allow you the choice of a larger booth in a less-than-ideal location or a smaller space in prime real estate, the less-is-more approach may be to your advantage, especially if your booth is adaptable. Budget for space according to your experience, advertised costs, and word-on-the-street. When it comes time to reserve your space, you won’t be overwhelmed or over-budget.

It takes a lot of work before an exhibition to prepare for a successful display, so including staff time in this pre-show preparation should also be considered part of your trade show budget. Then you have transportation time and costs, hotels, meals – every single one of these personnel considerations must be accounted for in your budget.

Determining at the outset of your financial year which shows to attend is paramount for establishing a realistic trade show budget. If an event pops up that might be worth attending, but for which there is no budget, a careful weighing of the opportunity cost is in order. Adjustments can always be made in other shows, but be careful not to allow impulsivity to neuter your careful budgeting. Incorporating extra funds for padding is a smart idea and can help take care of some of these unexpected events and their costs.

Establishing a trade show budget and sticking to it will help ensure the most positive experiences possible.