Finally, if you’re travelling to a trade show in another country, you may need to account for fees and taxes charged by customs. This can significantly increase your shipping expenses for international trade shows.
Trade Show Services:
From renting carpet to purchasing security badges, there are hundreds of hidden costs of exhibiting at a trade show that can quickly add up if you don’t account for them in your initial budget.
Many trade show exhibitors spend upwards of 20 percent of their budget on trade show services – things like internet connectivity, on-site labour, and even storage space at the convention centre.
Promotional Materials and Free Giveaways:
Have you planned to give away free merchandise at your exhibit? Would you like to sponsor a presentation during the trade show? Spending your budget on giveaways and promotional materials can increase your ROI, but only if you think about which giveaways and sponsorships will suit your target audience.
You’ll learn more about planning an effective free giveaway later in this guide. For now, just remember that while giveaways might be free to attendees, they always come at a cost to your business.
This is a big hidden cost of exhibiting at a trade show that many people don’t fully take into account. When you pull staff out of the office to attend a trade show, you need to take into account the lost productivity that their absence results in.
Most trade shows are profitable, making this expense a non-issue. However, it’s still important to budget for the lost revenue that taking several people out of the office can result in for your business.
Try to minimise your opportunity costs by putting together a plan for when staff are out of the office attending trade shows. While your office probably won’t run at 100 percent efficiency, you can minimise costs by delegating tasks to other staff.
How can you budget for an event with so many variables?
A lot of the costs of a trade show can’t be calculated until after the event, making it difficult to budget for everything in advance. Since exhibitors spend 28 percent of their budget on floor space, you can use this figure to put together a rough budget for your total trade show experience.
For simplicity’s sake, let's round 28 percent up to 30 percent. If you spend £3,000 on floor space for your exhibit, you should anticipate spending around £10,000 in total during your time at the trade show. If you spend £6,000 on floor space, you’ll need a total budget of £20,000 to avoid overspending on your trade show exhibit.
The key to a great trade show budget is flexibility. Once you’ve paid for all the ahead-of-time costs such as floor space, creating a great exhibit, and booking transport and accommodation, you can use the remaining budget flexibly to focus your spending on things that produce a direct ROI for your company.
Like all marketing, it’s about results
In the months after attending a trade show, you’ll be able to look back at how much you spent during the event and compare it to the results that you achieved. The next section of this guide will go into detail about calculating those results in measurable terms and explain how they can be used to work out your return on investment.