Maximize Your Trade Show Budget

We’ve heard how many businesses are still choosing to attend trade shows because of their continued success. However, what no one likes to talk about is how expensive it can be to attend a trade show. Many times, the return you get from attending is worth it, but for some businesses, navigating and establishing a budget is the most intimidating aspect of it. Here are a few tips to make sure that you are maximizing your trade show budget.

 1). Research which trade show to attend.

There are many different trade shows one can attend but selecting the right trade show for your business is key. Attending a trade show is not cheap, therefore, make sure to choose the right trade show so that you’ll get a return on investment.

  • If it’s the first year for a trade show, attend the trade show as a customer and see what it is like. You can then make a decision whether it would benefit you to attend next year.
  • Be aware of registration dates and deadlines, you do not want to have to pay late fees. There are usually discounts that are offered for those that register early as well. 
  • Look at the exhibition list to scope out your competitors. Try to find what the trade shows target audience is so that you know whether your ideal customers will be attending and whether it will be worth it. 

2). Trade show booth space.

  •  According to Jason Calanacis, “The cost of the booth is typically one third to two thirds of your total investment in attending an event. If you can barely afford the cost of the booth, you shouldn’t be doing the event, because you’re going to cut corners on things such as staffing, signage, and giveaways—all of which are essential.
  • Be aware of how much space you need. Many companies are choosing to have a smaller booths space so that they’re able to attend more trade shows rather than only being able to attend one trade show. 

3). Choose the right trade show display.

  • Choose a general design for your large display so that you are able to use it at other trade shows. If you want one time graphics for a specific occasion, replace the graphics on your smaller displays, such as your banner stands. Replacing the graphics on a banner stand is less expensive than replacing the graphics on your pop up display.
  • If you’re going to be traveling a lot, you might save money in the long run by choosing a lighter display, which will lower your shipping costs.
  • Make sure to take care of your display. Once a trade show is over, fold it carefully and neatly to avoid any damage. Most displays will last you about five years but can last up to ten.

4). Traveling & associated costs.

You’ll save the most money by attending a local trade show rather than one that requires travel. However, sometimes the biggest trade show you attend will be in another city and traveling to it will be your best choice. To save costs when traveling, remember to: 

  • Book hotels ahead of time.
  • Book flights early; they get more expensive the closer you are to the trade show date. 
  • Take food, bag fees, and transportation fees to an from the airport into consideration. 
  • Remember to budget for shipping costs. Carly Lindmeier from Expo Marketing says, “When calculating projected shipping and drayage costs, take into account the shipping distance, weight, and packaging of your booth and its assets.”

5). Look for additional opportunities within the trade show. 

  • Contact the trade show organizers ahead of time to see if there are any trade opportunities. Offer the services and products you specialize in and ask for a booth space in return.
  • Speak at a trade show. According to the Content Factory, “Often, speakers get free or discounted booth space and/or tickets to the event. Depending on what you bring to the table, you may even get paid for it.”  

6). Cut costs by going digital. 

  • Choose digital copies instead of spending money on brochures or literature that might end up being thrown away. You’ll save money on printing and shipping costs, plus the attendees you speak with will be glad they have one less thing to carry. 


Try to stick with your budget as much as possible but be aware that there is a possibility that you might run into some extra costs along the way. When you are establishing your budget, work in a miscellaneous cost that can serve as a cushion if an additional costs comes up that you weren’t expecting. 

By knowing what costs you need to plan for and trying to save money where possible, you can maximize your trade show budget.

Leave a Reply