Trade Show Budgets

With the decision made to exhibit and the choice of the event narrowed down, the next step is to establish a trade show budget.

You should remember that your participation in a trade show takes investment of both money and staff.

One way, when developing a trade show budget, is to look at the objectives you want to obtain and then work out how much has to be spent to achieve those objectives. Of course, you can look at the previous year’s trade show costs and increase it by a certain percentage. It really comes down to the number of key buying visitors you expect to see during the days of the show and how many conversions you expect to make.

When setting your trade show budget you need to cover the following expenses:

Space costs:

Depending on the industry and popularity of the trade show, trade show costs such as booth space can vary considerably. Of course, extremely large shows command the most money and package deals are the most economical way to participate in a trade show.  
Booth fabrication and other trade show costs:

These include design and construction costs as well as insurance. In addition, there’s shipping, installation and dismantling costs, which have to be included in any trade show budget. Transportation is a very important aspect of your participation in a trade show and can amount to a substantial amount of money
Trade show services and Exhibit accessories:

The trade show management should provide you with an official exhibitor’s kit, which contains information, prices and the necessary forms for ordering ancillary products and services for your exhibit.

For example: electrical service; floor coverings; badges, extra tables and chairs; furniture; photographers; telephones, booth cleaning etc. You should order in advance and take advantage of any discounted prices. If required there’s also: plumbing, refrigeration, gas, compressed air and water trade show costs.


As an exhibitor, you are obliged in your trade show budget to allow for protection and your legal liability against accidental injury or damage. You need to be covered against compensation; claimants’ costs and legal expenses due to injury or damage occurring in connection with your attendance at an event. Cover can also include cover in the event of cancellation.

You should arrange for adequate insurance coverage for your products and displays in case your displays are broken, or mysteriously vanish during transportation, while in the custody of your shipping carrier or while at the show.

Advertising, promotion and special activities:

Obtain a copy of last year’s attendance list. Send a targeted pre-show mailing to prospects telling them about your company, your products, and the people who can help them at your booth. All advertising costs should be included in your trade show budget.

Personnel (including travel, hotel and living expenses):

When you are aware of the personnel assigned to the trade show you should arrange all hotel and travel reservations in advance. Do not leave these trade show costs to the last minute as you may find your staff are without a room as all “official hotels” are fully booked. You will need to arrange for: Rooms for personnel; food and beverage; transportation for personnel to and from the trade show city; blazers or any uniforms for booth personnel; guest passes, etc.

by Ken MacKenzie – 2010

Ken MacKenzie is a former Senior Consultant with International Public Relations and Marketing Manager with a U.S. Trade Center. He is the author of “The Trade Show Edge” .


* indicates required
Email Format
Previous Post

Trade Show Staff

Next Post

Trade Show Training & Scheduling