How to Make the Most of Your Exhibition Budget

Whether you’re a first time exhibitor or a trade show veteran, one of your primary concerns will be your exhibition budget.

There are lots of costs to consider when it comes to exhibiting and if you don’t monitor your expenses carefully, you will soon see your budget disappear along with your prospects of getting a good ROI.

Luckily, for you, we have put together a list of cost-saving tips to help you manage your exhibition finances effectively. Here are the top ten tips we have listed:

  • Plan Early
  • Consider All of Your Shows at Once
  • Use a Reusable Exhibition Stand
  • Look Out For Hidden Electricity Costs
  • Avoid Tempting Bundles
  • Breakdown Your Exhibition Budget
  • Consider Your Storage Costs
  • Ask About Reinstall Costs
  • Use an Exhibition Company that Does Everything in-house
  • Use the Money You Save From these Tips to Invest in Your Stand

Plan Your Exhibition Early

One of the best ways to save costs on your exhibition is to plan well ahead of your scheduled show. Although there is no such thing as “too early” when it comes to the planning of your exhibition, ideally we recommend you allow 9 to 12 months for this.

Not only will this ensure you are properly organised for your event, it will also save you money. Businesses that leave it too late to arrange their exhibition often end up paying extortionate late fees or rush costs. This includes things like booking your hotel room, travel expenses, your exhibition space and services, as well as the build and design of your exhibition stand.

The more time you have to explore your options for all of your exhibition costs, the more flexibility you will have. And you can take advantage of any early bird offers the organisers may have.

But every expense that gets delayed will only increase costs. The less time you have, the more likely it is you will end up paying through the roof for these services.

Planning early puts you in the driving seat, allowing you the time to negotiate better rates and find services and suppliers that offer the best value.

To learn more about how to plan for your event, read our guide on how to organise your exhibition.

Consider All of Your Shows at Once

The chances are your upcoming exhibition won’t just be a “one-off” but you’ll be exhibiting at other events throughout the year. So when organising your exhibition it will save you money if you take into consideration all of your shows at once.

If you have multiple shows booked, tell your exhibition stand contractor when you book your stand – any good exhibition stand design and build company will look at your numerous shows as a package.

This way the flexibility for your graphics and stand structure can be planned and designed from day one. This will ensure you can use your stand across all of your exhibitions no matter how much your space differs from show to show.

By using an exhibition company that will redesign and reconfigure your stand and graphics to fit any new space you’re going to be exhibiting at you’ll be making one of the best long-term exhibition investments you could make.

Use a Reusable Exhibition Stand

The cost of a one-off exhibition stand is expensive. But even if you don’t have any further shows booked yet, you should still consider using a reusable stand that will have a longer lifespan than just one exhibition.

Imagine how much money it will cost your business if you have to buy a brand new stand for each new exhibition you attend.

Too many exhibitors fail to consider the bigger picture but, in the long run, a modular exhibition stand will yield more ROI than a single-use custom build stand. But be careful as many companies claim their modular stands are reusable when they’re not. If their stands can’t be reused in a different space, then they can’t be reused without significant expense.

Using a modular stand, like our exclusive Prestige Event System, means it can be redesigned for different spaces at different shows. And as you have the flexibility to use the same stand over your entire exhibiting calendar, you could save up to 70% on repeat exhibiting.

What is more, as well as being significantly cost-effective, reusing your exhibition stand is of course environmentally friendly, as it avoids the wastefulness of “throwaway” custom builds which are likely to end up in a skip at the end of the show.

Look Out For Hidden Electricity Costs

As anyone who has ever exhibited before will know, there are often many hidden costs that need to be considered, including the electrical costs for your stand. Exhibitors can be slapped with high electrical costs, with prices ranging between £200 to £800 for the use of electricity and often electrical testing charges thrown in on top of this.

As these services have to be booked directly with the show’s electrics contractor, the rates you pay for this are out of the hands of your exhibition stand designer and builder. But it is always a good idea to discuss electrical costs with your exhibition company at the quote stage. Any good contractor will be able to tell you how many sockets will be needed for your stand, thus enabling you to estimate the overall costs.

Obviously, the less technology you use at your exhibition, the less electricity you will need and the less you will have to pay. To reduce your electrical costs try to use as few sockets as possible and cut down on non-essential appliances that will draw a lot of power.

Another way to keep your electrical costs down is to use an exhibition stand supplier that uses LED lighting. This way multiple lights can be connected to one multi-plug extension, which in turn goes into just one paid socket. As LED lighting uses minimal wattage, it means you pay less if you are charged for higher wattage costs.

Although the use of AV displays and interactive technology can certainly enhance a stand, if your exhibiting budget doesn’t allow it then it would be best to leave this out of your exhibition package.

Avoid Tempting Stand Bundles

Many exhibition companies will try to entice you with bundles that include extras such as audio-visual features or furniture for your stand. Don’t get hoodwinked by these offers.

Although these bundles might sound tempting – as they could potentially save you time looking around for these extra features yourself – they will prove much more expensive. Either your supplier has a limited range of these extra features already, or, as is most often the case they hire them out from contractors and then put a huge mark-up on your price.

This is simply nothing more than a way to make more money out of you, and you’d be spending unnecessary funds if you fall into the trap of opting for them. You can make significant savings to your budget if you hire these extra items separately yourself.

It’s not just about the costs either. If your contractor has hired these items from outsiders, you have no idea who these people are or how good their products will be.

Exhibition companies who don’t offer these bundles will still have the same connections. This means any good exhibition contractor can advise you on what products you need and put you in touch with the most reliable suppliers you can book with directly at a lower cost.

Breakdown Your Exhibition Budget

The best way to keep on top of your exhibition expenses, and keep costs down in the long run, is to do a budget breakdown before you start spending. And the first thing to decide is how much you intend to spend on your exhibition space. Of course, if you’re new to exhibiting it can be hard to know exactly what the costs of anything will be. Hopefully, this following breakdown should provide some clarity.

The size of your space will depend a lot on your exhibiting objectives, but whatever space you choose should be around 25% of your overall budget. So, if your space is 5m x 3m at a cost of £300 per sqm then this will cost £4,500. If you accept this is no less than a quarter of your exhibition expenditure it will make it easier to calculate everything else.

Of course, there is no point in overspending on an expensive space at an exhibition only to turn up with a stand that everyone will ignore – if anything this could prove detrimental to your brand.

The best way to raise brand awareness and draw in your target audience is with an eye-catching exhibition stand, so make sure you invest in this properly, by allocating at least half of your budget to it. This means your stand should cost double your exhibition space. So, for example, if your space is £4,500 then you should be spending at least £9,000 on your stand.

Because they are a long list of minor expenses, an often overlooked aspect of exhibition budgeting are your extra services such as your electrics, AV features, and furniture. You should look at allocating at least 10% of your finances to these services.

Consider Your Exhibition Stand Storage Costs

As we have already discussed, it is far more cost-effective to choose a reusable modular exhibition stand. Using a “one-off” custom build will only end up in a skip at the end of the show or you just end up having to pay storage costs for the reusable elements. But storing your stand in-between shows can be expensive and difficult. And most businesses simply won’t have the storage or transportation capabilities to look after their stand after a show.

If you don’t use an exhibition company that takes care of your storage and transport then one option is to look into “big-box” companies that store furniture and also offer free shipping. There are plenty of these about, so find one that is affordable and will ship your stand for free directly to your shows.

But, of course, the cheapest and easiest option is to use an exhibition company that includes storage and transportation as part of your exhibition stand project management service.

At Quadrant2Design, under our Free2hire™ plan, which we offer to all our clients, we will store your stand and graphics between shows free of charge. This gives you the freedom to exhibit more frequently for less cost.

Ask About Reinstall Costs Of Your Stand

You can try and save money by having your own staff set up and take down your stand for repeat exhibitions. But unless you have one that is easy to assemble and dismantle, your inexperienced team are likely to cause irreparable damage to your exhibition stand in the process.

Whether you choose to use an exhibition supplier or hire contractors, we highly recommend using professional installers to reinstall your stand.

In many cases, reinstalling the same stand at future exhibition events will be around 30% of your initial investment of a new stand plus installation, and this can be even more expensive if you are using hired labour.

Unless you take reinstallation costs into account when choosing your exhibition stand supplier, you could end up with unnecessary costs for repeat exhibitions – especially if they are unable to reconfigure your stand for different spaces.

This is why you must use an exhibition company that works with exhibition stand solutions that can be redesigned and reconfigured to fit different spaces. And our high-quality and flexible Prestige Event System is this solution.

Don’t get sucked in by companies offering “cheap as chips” initial prices. As any experienced exhibitor knows, the real cost measure is over all of your events.

At Quadrant2Design, your re-installation costs are significantly reduced compared to other exhibition companies.

Use an Exhibition Contractor that Does Everything in-house

There is no doubt that choosing an exhibition company that can guarantee every service to do with your exhibition is done in-house is by far the most cost-effective way to exhibit.

From stand design, graphic design and print to stand manufacture and installation, if your exhibition company are outsourcing any of these services to third parties it means they are paying others to do it and adding their own mark-up to your costs.

One solution would be to use your exhibition company for their in-house services and find everything else yourself. But the more individual services you have to hire, the more costly your overall exhibition is going to be. Also, the more you have to do yourself the more time you spend working on your exhibition when you could be working on your business.

Any good exhibition will take care of all aspects of your exhibition stand process, without any risky sub-contracting any service to outsiders. This not only means you don’t get charged an unexpected markup on prices, but also guarantees quality control for your exhibition.

Use the Money You Save From these Tips to Invest in Your Stand

The best way to ensure you get a good ROI for your exhibition is to invest in your stand. This is the one area of your exhibition you can’t cut corners on.

To raise your brand awareness and capture those key leads you need to make sure you stand out from the other exhibitors and drive traffic to your stand. Although there are lots of ways you can generate interest in your exhibition, nothing will attract the right type of attention more than an eye-catching stand design.

If you follow the budgeting saving tips in this guide, you should have made considerable savings. Now this means you will have extra funds to invest in exhibition stand design features that will get your brand noticed in the exhibition hall.

To learn more about how to make your exhibition stand, stand out from the crowd, read our top 6 exhibition stand design ideas to attract visitors.

Quadrant2Design have an amazing and extensive selection of unique design ideas and features that will help you make an impact in the hall and attract prospective customers to your exhibition.