What can I do to make our exhibit booth interesting enough to make people stop and learn about our product?

In the fast paced environment of a tradeshow you have to be able to grab a potential customer’s attention within about 3 seconds. In order to do this your booth has to speak to the attendees. Important factors that can attract traffic are color, lights, special effects, life size or larger-than-life images, banners or flag, moving objects, mirrors, mannequins, robots and active demonstrations. It is important to establish your company identity by advertising your logo or company branding in a prominent location or multiple locations. Important graphic statements should include ideas like what benefit do you offer to a potential client, a question that might spark thought in an attendee or a humorous catch phrase.

What is the average purchase cost for a new exhibit?

Based on a 1996 survey conducted by Exhibitor Magazine the average cost per square foot not including graphics is $92.00 per square foot for an island or peninsula booth. In-line exhibits average $119.00 per square foot.

How can I accurately budget for my tradeshow exhibit needs this year and next year?

There are several factors that should be included in your budget when a decision is made to exhibit at a tradeshow or convention. Here is a list of products and services you should be prepared to pay for in order to successfully exhibit.

  • Booth Space purchased by Show Management
  • Marketing Expenses through Show Management
  • Booth Rental or Purchase
  • Furniture Rental or Purchase
  • Carpet Rental or Purchase
  • Drayage paid to General Show Contractor taking into consideration
  • Electrical Service and other utilities such as plumbing paid to individual contractors
  • Electrical Labor and other utility labor depending on city Union Guideline
  • Labor depending on city Union Guidelines through General Show contractor or another Exhibitor Appointed Contractor
  • Booth Cleaning ordered with show provider
  • Additional services catering, florist,, photographer, lead retrieval, A/V

All the pricing for these services and products will be available in your exhibitor service manual sent by the general show contractor. The rule of thumb for planning ahead from the previous year is to increase your total costs by 10%.

How can I minimize my show services spending?

Show Service Spending can be decreased by being organized, pro-active and understanding your Exhibitor Service Manual. An attentive Exhibit Builder/ Designer or Exhibitor Appointed Contractor can help you identify with your exhibitor service manual.

  • Most services offered have discount or pre show pricing. Ordering all materials and services such as furniture, booth cleaning, forklift labor and carpet before your deadline date can save you almost 10% on each service.
  • Have detailed drawings of your booth that your laborers can understand. The easier your drawings are to read the faster the booth will be assembled and this will decrease your labor bill. Requesting the same laborer for dismantle as on the install will save time as well. They are familiar with your booth and will work faster.
  • In cities where tools are allowed by exhibitors make sure you have a well stocked gang box. Missing a simple tool might force you to order labor that is not needed.
  • Be aware of overtime and double time hours during move in. Avoid these times for ordering hanging signs, rigging or labor.
  • Following Union Guidelines for each city will help you decrease your show site costs.
  • Emergency changes to your booth will make labor charges add up.

What is drayage and how can I minimize freight costs?

Freight costs for a tradeshow account for about 10% of an average tradeshow budget. There are shipping charges to and from the show as well as drayage costs within the show itself.

Drayage is a charge for material handling within the tradeshow convention hall. All pieces if freight must be unloaded from trucks and transported by forklift to your booth space. General Service Contractors charge a fee by weight per 100 lbs. All of your freight that is shipped to the show is weighed and charged accordingly.

To minimize shipping charges from a location to your tradeshow or event schedule a round trip pick up, give your carrier plenty of time to deliver the freight on both ends, price shop with several carriers, and look into tradeshow carrier discounts. Another way to decrease shipping costs is to contract a storage facility that will maintain your freight and ship it for you economically to each of your shows under a contract.

Drayage charges on show site paid to the general service contractor can be minimized by:

  • Shipping as many pieces as you can if not all pieces as one shipment. Because drayage is based in 100 lb increments with minimums you can avoid a substantial amount of charges by sending all freight as one shipment. Small boxes should be shrink-wrapped to a pallet so they are weighed and charged individually. This will also insure that all of your pieces arrive together.
  • Read your Exhibitor Manual Freight Handling Page or and the charges associated with shipping in freight. Understand your logistical situation for each show. You must analyze each show to decide how you can save.
    • If the show is targeted know when your target move is scheduled for. Surcharges apply for shipments arriving late as well as early.
    • Surcharges also apply for freight arriving on overtime or double time. If you have control over your set up dates try to schedule them during the day on a weekday during straight time.
    • Read carefully the different classes of tradeshow freight. Is your equipment uncrated? Can you crate it? Is you shipment pad wrapped? Does it need to be? Was your shipment delivered by a van line or a company truck? Could you use a common carrier instead? Sometimes you need to change your logistics to fit into a less expensive class.
    • Compare the rates for shipping freight to the advanced warehouse as opposed to shipping directly to show site. If your direct freight is going to move in on overtime wouldn’t it be more cost effective to send to the advanced warehouse and pay the lesser of two evils? Sending your freight to an advanced warehouse usually saves with labor costs as well because freight will already be in your booth when you arrive to set up.
  • Review your freight bill from you general service contractor in detail. Mistakes can be made during this hectic tradeshow experience. If you keep accurate records about your freight such as, the actual certified weight of your pieces, weight of your crates full and empty. The number of shipments that you had, color and size of freight, tracking numbers, name of carrier, contact numbers for your carrier, customs paperwork for international shipments then you will be able to make sure you have been charged accordingly for your freight. All of this information will also help you locate lost or stolen freight on show site.

How can I minimize electrical costs?

Electricity and Electrical labor can become over whelming in some cities. There are a few ways to minimize your costs while on site electrically.

  • Pre- wire as much of the exhibit as possible- prepare all electrical equipment to just be plugged in. Doing wiring and connecting on site might lead to needing to order electrical labor.
  • Avoid hard wiring- if an electrician has to connect actual wires for your equipment to work your labor bill will increase significantly.
  • Do not order an electrical outlet for every piece of equipment you need electricity for. Understand how many AMPS each piece requires and order only the electrical power you will need.
  • Have you electrical labor ordered to lay all cords under carpet and pad. This will avoid having to pay to have your crates moved and your carpet to be pulled up and re- installed. Schedule your electrical labor before your install labor.
  • Make a floor plan of your exhibit booth highlighting exactly where your equipment is being placed and where the electrical outlets need to be. This will save on electrical labor time within your booth as well as allow the contractor to complete the work before your arrival.
  • Carry extension cords, T plugs or power strips in your gang box. They will save you a rental fee on site. Purchasing electrical equipment before the show will always be cheaper than renting on site.