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Trade Show Exhibiting on a Shoestring Budget

How to Cut Costs without Compromising Quality

Working with a Tight Trade Show Budget

According to a recent report from The Exhibitor Advocate, three in four exhibitors are under pressure to cut exhibiting costs. As someone who has worked with startups and scale-ups throughout my career, I am well-versed in working on a tight budget. It is essential to make every dollar count while still being impactful and cost-effective. However, you can create a successful presence without compromising quality by making smart choices and planning carefully.

Trade Show and Space Selection

When you are on a tight budget, it is crucial to select the right show. Look for highly targeted shows where you can meet potential customers, partners, and suppliers. Book only as much space as you need, and focus instead on high-impact messaging and presentations. While negotiating your space contract, ask the show organizer to throw in some value-added perks, like extra exhibit hall passes or furnishings for your booth space.

Selecting Your Trade Show Booth

Renting an exhibit might be a good option for a one-time event, but purchasing a high-quality portable exhibit would be a more cost-effective option in the long run if you plan to exhibit at multiple events. Plan your messaging carefully to ensure your graphics are reusable at each event. For any specialized topics, you can address them using banner stands or customized presentations and videos shown in your booth.

Cutting Trade Show Costs

There are plenty of ways to keep costs down at the show. Self-setup is a big one. As long as you comply with local union labor rules and can set up your 10×10 in 30 minutes, you can save a bundle by handling this yourself. Be sure to dedicate plenty of time for your team to set up and dismantling after the show, as it can take an hour or more to get your empty cases back. 

To avoid costly material handling fees, consider shipping items to your hotel or carrying them with you. Get an early start to take advantage of economy shipping and hotel room blocks at discounted rates, but be aware that UPS and FedEx do not reliably pick up from the show site, so allow extra time for package drop-offs after the show.

Lastly, pick up a pocket Wi-Fi device. It can be a cheaper and more reliable alternative to the venue’s internet packages.

Leverage Trade Show Organizer Resources

Maximize the value from trade show event organizers by taking advantage of press and attendee lists or networking apps. Use social networking hashtags to increase your reach and exposure.

Follow these tips to exhibit successfully on a shoestring budget without compromising quality. The key is to plan, choose wisely, and leverage every opportunity to maximize your impact. Good luck, and happy exhibiting!

Cara Mormino

Cara Mormino

Event Management and Co-Founder

Cara Mormino is a seasoned advertising and marketing professional specializing in trade shows. As the Head of Sales, Marketing & Client Service at Artisan Exhibits, she takes pride in providing innovative ideas and top-notch service to help exhibitors across the globe plan, organize, and execute extraordinary events.