Estimating the Cost of an Exhibition Stand

Got a trade show coming up? Do you want to know how much an exhibition stand costs? People often wonder how much of their budget they should spend on their trade show booth. There is no exact right answer, but here are some quick techniques to help you work out how much you should spend on your exhibition stand:

  • An exhibition stand can range from £50 – £50,000+
  • You have to find the right balance between your budget, getting noticed on the trade show floor and return on investment
  • Your exhibition stand should cost around 50% of your total exhibiting budget
  • The cost of your stand should be roughly twice as much as the cost of your floor space

Following these four rules will help you understand exactly how much your exhibition stand should cost.

A Custom-Modular Exhibition Stand Will Cost…

Something that we often get asked is how much an exhibition stand costs. And our answer has been the same for twenty years. It depends.

There are loads of factors to take into account before you put a price on your exhibition stand. How many shows are you exhibiting at? What size is your stand space? How many open walls does your space have? What are your exhibiting aims and objectives? Do you have a product to showcase?

There is a big difference in the amount of money you can get a stand for and the amount that you should spend. So let’s work out how much of your exhibiting budget you should allocate for your stand.

First thing’s first, you are asking the wrong question.

How Much Should You Spend on Your Exhibition Stand?

This is the question that you should be asking. How much should you spend on your exhibition stand? The thing is, the cost of an exhibition stand or display can vary dramatically. That’s why no one will be able to tell you exactly how much an exhibition stand costs.

There are businesses out there that will flog you a pull-up banner for less than £50. Sounds like a great deal, doesn’t it? Pull-up banners don’t attract crowds. You’re very unlikely to be noticed on a trade show floor with a basic, low-cost display. Especially with neighbouring stands using custom-built or custom modular exhibition stands.

That’s why “how much does an exhibition stand cost” is the wrong question. How much should you spend on an exhibition stand is the right question. And we recommend spending around half of your exhibiting budget on your stand.

We’ve had clients approach us with disastrous tales from previous exhibitions. In most cases, the disaster was caused by their boss wanting to save money. You can cut the costs when it comes to your exhibition stand but at what cost to your live marketing strategy and return on investment?

On a busy trade show floor you want people to notice you. That’s why you need an eye-catching stand. The low-cost options on the market aren’t the best option. Custom modular or custom built exhibition stands, although more expensive, will help you stand out and encourage crowds to visit your stand.

That’s why you’ve got to find the right balance. And that’s why no exhibition contractor can answer the question: how much does an exhibition stand cost. You could spend next to nothing on a display that gives you no returns or you could blow your budget on a really impressive stand but get no return on your investment.

There is a lot that goes into your exhibiting budget. And if you’re new to live marketing strategies such as industry-specific events then you’ll probably have missed a few things off your list. Here’s a handy budget breakdown for your upcoming exhibition.

Trade Show Budget Breakdown

To work out how much you should spend on an exhibition stand, you need to understand the most rewarding way to break down your exhibition budget.

Use a free trade show budget template to help you break down these costs.

Here is a summary of the expenses that you’ll incur along the way to give you the best idea of how you should split your budget.

pie chart

25% on Your Floor Space

The two biggest expenses when it comes to attending a trade show are your stand space and your exhibition stand. The stand space is often charged per meter squared and can vary from show to show. The average is around £300 per sqm.

Your floor space should be the first cost you encounter when planning an upcoming event and will vary depending on its size. It shouldn’t be the highest expense you encounter. We suggest spending about one-quarter of your total exhibition budget on your space.

50% on Your Exhibition Stand

Your exhibition stand should make up a significant proportion of your budget. We recommend spending around 50% of your total budget on a bespoke, eye-catching exhibit.

The cost of an exhibition stand can vary from £50 to thousands of pounds. Don’t let this 50% figure scare you. There is a solution for you no matter what your budget is.

By this point, you have used up to three-quarters of your budget. You’ve got a great floor space in a fantastic location, perfect from driving footfall to your stand. And you’ve got a bespoke, custom exhibition stand that is eye-catching and makes delegates want to interact with your team. But why have you still got a quarter of your budget left?

The floor space and exhibition stand aren’t the only costs involved in exhibiting. There are several other factors that you have to take into consideration.

2% on Electrics

Your exhibition stand will need electricity running to it to power your lighting and audiovisual features. A standard 5x3m space will usually require 3 electric sockets. These are charged at around £115 by the venue, and there is also a £15 testing fee. Bear in mind that you may need more or fewer sockets depending on your exhibition stand and how many audiovisual and lighting features you include.

2% on Furniture Rental

It’s a great idea to put some furniture onto your exhibition stand. Having a small entertainment area where people can sit, relax and chat with your team. This is a great opportunity to gain leads, give product demonstrations and close deals! Renting a standard bar stool costs £50, and a table will cost you £100. To hire three stools and a table you are looking at an average of £250.

2% on Audiovisual Rental

Integrating audiovisual elements into your exhibition stand can help you interact and engage with a new audience of hot leads! It’s the perfect way to demonstrate your product and showcase everything that you do as a business. To hire a 40” TV for two days you will pay £285. Some people choose to have more than one screen on their booth so take this into account when you are planning your exhibition stand.

7% on Travel, Accommodation and Staffing

You need to have enough members of staff to make sure the booth is being covered at all times. We recommend four members of staff for a two-day event if you have a small or medium-sized stand. This is to avoid the booth being unmanned while people have lunch or take breaks. But obviously, this is going to cost you money.

Firstly you have to cover the travel costs. From London to the NEC you are looking at around £50 per person. On top of that you need to cover the costs of their accommodation which can vary but will likely be around £150 per person for both nights. Finally, you need to allocate a percentage of your budget for your staff to be able to eat and drink over the course of the event.

You can expect to use between 6% and 8% of your total exhibiting budget covering these costs.

6% on Pre-Show Marketing

When you are exhibiting at a show it’s important to make sure everybody knows about it. That’s why you should allocate a percentage of your budget to pre-show marketing. You also want to increase footfall on your stand which you can do with games, competitions and prize giveaways. Finally, you’ll be given the opportunity to sponsor the trade show which can increase brand awareness and get more people onto your booth.

You can spend as much or as little as you’d like on marketing. But remember this could make a huge difference when it comes to your return on investment and achieving your trade show goals. We’d always recommend implementing a marketing strategy and you should plan to spend around 5% – 10% on these efforts.

Work Out the Cost of Your Exhibition Stand

By breaking your budget down in this way you should have a clear understanding of how much money you should spend on your exhibition stand.

Let’s say that you have a £20,000 budget. You’re looking at a fantastic, bespoke custom modular exhibition stand for £10,000 – half of your total budget. And you’ll place it on a £5,000 floor space – one quarter of your budget. But the formula works for smaller budgets too. Go ahead.

There are loads of free tools to help you make the most out of your trade show marketing budget. Use one of these if maths isn’t your thing.

These are not fixed prices by any means, and there are definitely some things you need to consider.

Exhibition Stand Cost: Things to Consider

The amount you spend on an exhibition stand can and will vary. You can get a pull-up banner at a very low cost, but you won’t make an impact at the event. On the other hand, you could spend tens of thousands of pounds on a huge custom-built structure. But this won’t be reusable and you’ll find yourself paying for a new stand at every exhibition you attend.

That’s why we recommend spending around half of your overall budget on your stand. This is the only way to ensure maximum exposure and guarantee your team have a successful show.

Half of your budget is a very vague sum and there are definitely some factors you need to consider.

What Size is your Floor Space?

As we have already discussed, the floor space at a trade show is charged at a cost per square meter. This means a larger space will cost more than a smaller space and will eat up a larger sum of your budget.

The good news is, the location of your floor space doesn’t affect the cost. These spaces are offered on a first come first served basis so you will never have to pay more to get the ideal position. We’ve written this handy exhibiting guide to help you choose the perfect floor space for your brand.

When planning your exhibition you should expect to spend around a quarter of your overall budget on your floor space. At £300 per meter squared, a standard 5x3m space will cost £4,500.

How many Open Sides does your Exhibition Stand have?

You might not think about it at the time, but your exhibition stand could cost more or less depending on the number of open sides your floor space has. Floor spaces can vary in size and have between one and four open sides.

Event organisers require you to build structures to create the walls of your space. If your space has one open side, you are going to need to construct three walls. If your space has two open sides, you are going to need to construct two walls. You get the picture.

The more open sides your stand has, the smaller your structure will need to be. This plays a huge role in the overall cost of your exhibition stand.

It gets a bit more tricky when you start looking at island spaces, these are sites with four open sides. Island spaces are typically positioned in prime locations, at the entrance to the hall or on main traffic junctions. Although you are not required to construct any walls, these prime locations attract businesses with huge budgets.

You might think an island space is a way forward to reduce the cost of your exhibition stand. No walls to cover means no structure to construct, right? Wrong. The problem with surrounding yourself with huge competitors in a prime location island space is that you will need an incredibly impressive structure to attract attention.

As a general rule of thumb, avoid island spaces if you don’t have the budget for an outstanding bespoke exhibition stand. You’ll make a much better impact, and have a more successful show, by choosing an open two or open three side space and investing in a better stand.

If your budget is still playing on your mind and you’re looking for ways to reduce the cost of your exhibition stand then keep reading this guide.

Other Factors

We’ve already covered some of the fluctuating costs that make up a quarter of your budget. These can vary and it really depends on your exhibition stand design and your goals for the show.

You might have a lot of products to display and demonstrate. This means you’ll need a unique stand design with more showcases integrated and you may want more staff to man your booth.

If your stand has a lot of lighting features and integrated audiovisual elements then you may have to consider additional electricity sockets. And you may spend more or less on all of the fluctuating costs listed in the budget section depending on what your aims and objectives are for the show.

If you are looking for ways to save money on your stand then there are plenty of things you could do. Rental stands are a good option but you’ll have higher overheads to cover per show if you plan on exhibiting at multiple shows. We’ve got another trick up our sleeve.

How to Save Money on your Exhibition Stand

If some of the things you’ve discovered in this guide are worrying you then we’ve got a solution. There are definitely ways to reduce the cost of your exhibition stand and still have all the integrated product showcases and audiovisual components you need to attract attention to your stand.

By saving money on your exhibition stand you can include additional electricity sockets, meaning you can include additional eye-catching design features on your booth. You can also spend more of your budget on furniture or staff, depending on your exhibiting goals and needs. If you’ve got an upcoming trade show and you’re looking to reduce costs when it comes to your budget then we have a solution for you.

Our fixed price exhibition stands are available in loads of different styles and designs. You don’t have to worry about your stand looking boring or cheap. The Prestige Events System, our exclusive custom modular exhibition stand, can be designed with floor-to-ceiling graphics of your choice AND includes unique design features such as high level branding, integrated product showcases and audiovisual elements.

I’ll tell you what, as we’re feeling generous we’ll even chuck in a free photo-floor. You can create a fully immersive, branded environment so that your future customers can interact with your brand without spending half of your budget.

What’s the catch? There isn’t one. Our fixed priced exhibition stands are available in a number of sizes, styles and designs. You tell us what features you want to include and we’ll take care of the rest!

Get in touch with us today is you are looking for a low-cost exhibition stand to transform your shell scheme!