Are you budgeting for your next trade show and don’t know where to start? Planning, strategizing, and calculating for exhibits and shows can be stressful, confusing, and time consuming.
For the past 25 years, Showcraft has helped thousands of clients design and build trade show exhibits that fit their brand and budget. We’re here to help break down the costs of trade shows so you know what expenses to expect when planning your next event.
This article covers the cost factors of show locations, the size of the exhibit, goals for your show, as well as labor, and any additional add-ons.
Location of The Trade Show
Location plays a big role in your estimated budget. Exhibit shows and conferences charge by the square foot, but this amount varies from region to region.
Vegas, for example, is typically on the higher end, around $190 per square foot. Whereas other cities, like Chicago or Austin, may charge closer to $125 per square foot. It is important to note this charge is only for floor space.
Labor and assembly will be additional expenses, as well as the booth itself. The location will also dictate whether or not the labor is unionized, affecting if the cost is fixed or will vary.
Size of Your Exhibit
Another factor to consider when pricing out your exhibit is size. Exhibit size ties closely to your goals and your overall budget. If this is your first experience with trade shows, you might treat it like a test round, purchasing a smaller exhibit.
Which is beneficial because a smaller exhibit allows you to showcase your business without maxing out your marketing budget. You are still able to demo your product and test your goals while you get the feel for exhibit events.
However for larger, more established companies, a bigger exhibit might be the best fit. It provides a broader platform to showcase your company and tell your story. Because these teams are often more experienced and established, a larger exhibit is not as risky.
As mentioned, the price will vary depending on location, but below is an estimated range for each standard size:
- 10X10: $15,000 - $50,000
- 10X20: $25,000 - $75,000
- 20X20: $30,000 - $100,000
- 40X40: $75,000 - $200,000
For exact pricing, hop on a call with a member of our team!
When choosing the perfect exhibit, it’s extremely important to first establish your goals. Questions to keep in mind include:
- Will you be creating a brand experience or will you focus on creating an experience for a specific product?
- Is your goal generating leads or nurturing the leads you already have?
- Are you looking to build and strengthen relationships or demonstrate the features of a new product?
Establishing these goals before creating your exhibit will help prioritize your needs and build the framework for your budget. They will also help track your ROI .
If you can show your team how your exhibit achieved your goals, trade shows will be seen as an investment, not an expense.
Exhibit Special Needs and Features
With your goals in mind, do you have any additional needs to bring your exhibit to life? If you’re showcasing a demo, consider dedicated internet and electricity in your booth to ensure you have enough juice and internet bars to power your needs. consider dedicated internet and electricity in the booth.
This could range from $1,000 - $5,000 in price. With larger electronic pieces, like monitors or LED walls, multiple 10 amp drops will be required. Budget an extra $250 - $400 per 10 amp drop.
Keep your necessary special features in mind to help you ask the right questions when you inquire with your trade show provider.
Labor can be a tricky thing to budget for as it varies from city to city. For example, in Vegas, the labor is unionized - meaning all assembly, dismantling and installation has to be done by the union workers.
In general, trade show labor union rates come out to slightly over $100 per hour. This includes electrical installation, hanging banners, and freight handling. If your display is “portable”, meaning it is a popup exhibit that can be assembled by you, it is exempt from union rules.
Depending on the complexity of your exhibit, you might also need to hire a qualified rigger and rent out extra equipment for your installation.
Portable vs Rental vs Custom
With your objectives in mind, you can make the decision to go portable, rental or custom.
Portables are lightweight and collapse into themselves. They can even fit on a plane. These displays are lightweight, made from cheap materials, fall apart easily, and can have graphics that sag or don’t fit nicely.
With rentals, you’re renting all the structures, graphics, real cabinets, real tabletops, real marble, vinyl, and wood materials. These structures are framed and support unique architectural designs. They can support TV monitors and LED screens.
Customs are completely tailored to your needs. These exhibits are built to spec and can be whatever size and shape and include whatever features necessary to meet your goals.
Of the options, portables are the cheapest, rentals are the middle ground, and customs are the most expensive.
A La Cart vs End-to-End
The final thing to consider is: what kind of services will you be purchasing from your exhibit provider?
Some companies just focus on designing the exhibit, some just focus on setups and on-site, but an end-to-end handles it all. An end-to-end can be seen as the “white glove service” of the trade show industry.
These exhibit companies will walk you through needs, goals, design, as well as monitor the day of installation. Some will even go as far as to book your clients' dinner reservations.
Ready to Get Pricing for Your Trade Show Exhibit?
Whether you’re budgeting for your first trade show or 500th, planning doesn’t need to be stressful. By reviewing your goals, intended size, location, and needed labor, you can begin to develop a rough estimate of what it takes to exhibit at a trade show.
You now have the necessary information to speak in an educated manner with your trade show provider or potential provider. Your next step is to speak with your team to outline your goals and then use those to develop a plan with your exhibit house.
Here at Showcraft, we offer free consultations with our team to review your company’s needs and go over any additional questions you may have. We’re an end-to-end provider - we take care of everything, from designing your booth to making your dinner reservations and everything in between.
If you’re interested in learning more about Showcraft's specific prices and services, schedule a consultation today!