Planning for your big industry trade show is a serious investment.

Once you make the decision to exhibit, it is important to make sure you have a realistic budget in place.  What’s the best way to take control of your trade show budgeting?  Experts state that using a Trade Show Budgeting Forecast Worksheet can help keep you within 10% of your forecasted expenses.

A general forecasting rule is that your entire trade show will cost about three times the amount spent to reserve your booth space.   As an example, if a booth space costs you $5,000 to reserve, you should plan a total show investment of $15,000.

Savvy exhibitors may allocate a little more for unexpected costs (ex/ if your trade show venue requires union labor – plan to add 20% to your total cost estimate). Where does the additional two-thirds of your trade show budget go?   The graph below will give you an idea of how the average U.S. exhibitor spent their trade show dollars last year.

Trade Show Budgeting Break-Down

trade show budgeting break-down anaylsis

CAUTION… nothing about trade show exhibiting is FREE.  First-time exhibitors often assume their booth space “comes with something”.   While all shows vary, this is seldom the case.

As the above graph illustrates, Show Services such as electrical services, carpet, material handling/drayage services and installation & dismantle labor are not services that are included with your space rental.  These must-have services all cost additionally.  According to the Center for Exhibition and Industry Research (CEIR), they account for an average of 17% of your total trade show budget.

Early planning remains your best opportunity for stretching your budget.  Early-bird discounts (for booking show services 30-60 days in advance), ground shipping vs. air freight, and giving your exhibit house lots of lead time to manufacture exhibit and graphic properties can ultimately save you thousands of dollars per show!

If you’re planning to exhibit at additional shows throughout the year — or the same show for the next several of years — ask your trade show vendor for special pricing for a  multi-show commitment.  Most will work with you.

Download our Trade Show Budget Forecasting Worksheet to help you stay on-track.  Simply fill out the form above and get this exclusive Excel workbook which is also set-up to track the progress of your sales leads from the show (on the second tab) and track the your trade show’s Return on Investment (on the third tab).