Discover insider tips and hints on saving money at trade shows from an industry leading trade show supplier.
How to Save Money at Trade Shows
While tradeshows present an amazing opportunity to meet face to face with your target audience, costs can add up quick. Finding ways to stretch those precious marketing dollars is critical to success. Companies both large and small can use some of these money saving techniques in today’s economy.
Strategy, Space, & Needs
Review Strategy: A great place to start on your quest to save money at tradeshow is reviewing your overall strategy. One of the largest outlays for any exhibit program is the space itself, and ensuring you are attending the right conventions and at the right square footage is imperative. Some companies want to make a statement with a large space, while others may not need to. Sometimes a smaller space can work just as well to achieve goals. Companies that attend many large scale conventions a year may require vast storage solutions to keep their promotional materials, exhibit set pieces, and more safe and secure – something like steel shop buildings could be constructed to expand upon a business’s premises and used as a storage facility.
Sign Up Early: Many shows will have early bird discounts for signing up for booth space in advance. If it’s a show you go to every year, booking as early as possible for next year’s shows can not only save you money but allow you choice of superior locale near high traffic areas.
Determining Needs: Once the spatial logistics have been finalized, the next step is to determine what you are going to put in your new real estate. Most companies want to put more than just tables with pipe and drape. If you have a heavy old custom exhibit, perhaps it’s time to consider renting. Will a portable or pop-up display be sufficient or do you need something more to stand out? It’s a balance between image and cost.
Choosing a Vendor: When looking for the right vendor to fulfill your trade show needs, perform due diligence with some comparison shopping. Compare basic pricing at a few vendors to determine if your portable, rental, or custom exhibit is well priced. While it’s easiest to go with the cheapest price, ask for a few references, even if you don’t contact them to get a feel for the quality of service you are going to get. Many companies have flexible designs, so service becomes critical.
The Exhibit & Showtime
The Exhibit: Whether you are buying or renting, important factors to consider is the weight and installation/dismantle time for the exhibit. These are two critical factors in trade show costs. Weight is important because union labor charges by the pound to bring crates from the loading dock to your space, known in the industry as Drayage, so the more weight the higher the charges. Setup and dismantle time is charged by the hour, so the more complicated the exhibit is the higher the setup costs can be.
Fabric is a Friend: Fabric usage in exhibit construction is a great way to create a phenomenal look using lightweight (remember we just talked about the importance of weight) and impactful. Lighting is another way to change the looks of space that is efficient, cheap, and light weight.
Deadlines are Key: Follow all show deadlines to the letter, which means submitting all show forms and other information on time and complete. This can help you save hassle and most importantly money by avoiding late fees.
Shipping: Whenever possible, arrange shipping to the advanced warehouse. This includes booth material as well any product or giveaways that will be needed for the show. Crates shipped to the advanced warehouse avoid costly shipping carrier wait times that always occur when shipping direct to the show while having a truck sit and wait to be unloaded.
Show Extras: Internet, plasma TVs, booth cleaning, electric, and carpeting are some of the items on a la carte menu supplied by any show contractor. However, often they come with a price tag that can raise an eyebrow or two. It’s important to understand which services your company can get alternate pricing or solutions for. Examples:
Internet, A/V Rentals: The show contractor isn’t the only game in town. There are often other approved AV vendors that offer the same product for cheaper. Internet is a little trickier, since there are no other options. If your internet needs are limited, bring a wireless card and connect via your existing service.
Carpeting: Check with your exhibit company on options and have them ship carpeting to the show. In many cases this will be a cheaper option than the show contractor.
Booth Cleaning: Try limiting booth and carpet cleaning to a single pre show cleaning to keep costs down. Metro would recommend shipping some extra cleaning supply and a dust buster for your staff to clean during the show. Electricity is necessary for every exhibit and you are at the mercy of the show contractor or venue. To be cost conscience ensure that you are ordering only what you need for electric drops and wattage.
Review, Review, Review: After the show ends, collect all the bills that from every service for each show. Review all line items costing and compare to ordering records for accuracy. From our long experience we’ve seen countless errors that lead to overcharging. Once a mistake is spotted, contact the show contractor immediately and correct the error. If you are using a trade show vendor, ensure that the vendor has these practices in place to protect your company.
This article has been created by the trade show professionals at Metro Exhibits, with years of experience providing amazing solutions for any event. Metro Exhibits uses the techniques described in this article every day to save our client’s money when we provide custom, rental, and portable display solutions