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Prepare For and Avoid Hidden Trade Show Costs

As you plan the budget for your next trade show, have you included provisions for potential unexpected or hidden costs? It is important to include the following items in your budget so that you are financially prepared for the full cost of exhibiting at a trade show. While there is the potential to minimize or avoid many of these costs, preparing for them will ensure you don’t come up short or overspend on a tradeshow, jeopardizing your return on investment.

Show Contractors

Many trade shows have contractors who work specifically for that show. In the trade show’s exhibitor’s kit, you will likely only see information for ordering things like rigging, chairs, flooring, lighting, and more. Be sure to read over your contract to determine whether or not you are required to use the contractors listed in your exhibitor’s kit. If you’re having trouble deciphering between which contractors are optional and which contractors are required, it might be beneficial to read Exhibitor Magazine Online’s post that explains the differences between the different types of trade show contractors. Additionally, always keep in mind that even if you’ve used a show contractor at one show, the pricing may not be the same. Each show is different— even if the contractor is the same, the location may affect rates. Always check the contract for each show to know what you are required to use and to estimate what costs you will incur.

Shipping & Storage Costs

Similar to the show contractors, shipping costs are also an expected cost — but one that can vary, which may surprise some exhibitors. Do not assume that your shipping costs will be the same from show to show as the distance, current fuel prices, and even the time it takes to unload your packages. The warehouse where you store your trade show booth can be a huge savings, especially if its location is close in proximity to where your shows are held. Additionally, you may end up bringing different marketing collateral or swag, which will likely weigh differently, which can account for variances in shipping costs. When it comes to marketing collateral, avoid shipping literature. A better option is having a small amount printed locally that can be picked up prior to the show. Finally, packing your show booth and materials in as few packages as possible will help with ensuring everything arrives on time and with minimizing costs. When shipping, taking advantage of advanced shipping options may also help you save on costs — and an added bonus, it will save your peace of mind come showtime.

Missed Deadline Penalties

Trade shows are a huge undertaking from a project management perspective, and in order to keep things running smoothly, and to keep exhibitors happy, deadlines will be put in place. Missing important deadlines can result in unwanted fines, so be sure that you complete all tasks by the scheduled deadlines.

Don’t Forget About Your Staff

When you exhibit a trade show, you may have staff from your office or contracted staff to work the show booth. Not only will whomever works the booth need to be compensated for their time working the booth, but the company will also need to pay for travel to the show, hotel accommodations, travel to and from the hotel and show (if you are unable to secure lodging at the show venue), food, and, if your staff is expected to entertain clients, they should also be provided with a way to pay for those events and/or meetings.  It is important to consider all the costs associated with having staff at the booth so that your bottom line doesn’t have any surprises after the show is over.

Budget, Anticipate, and Prepare

Overall, there are a number of ways to save on costs, but the bottom line is that if you prepare a robust budget that includes provisions for all costs, you will be in great shape after the show. The easiest way to avoid hidden costs is to not be surprised by costs associated with exhibiting.