Cost Saving Ideas for the Trade Show Industry

By Dave Jentz, Exhibit Systems,

The future is looking brighter every day. The indicators are everywhere, with positive signs showing recovery is on its way. In the trade show industry, even though the number of exhibitors is down, attendance at the shows is up, according to Tradeshow Week. Even as the economy continues to improve, trade show exhibitors are always on the lookout for ways to stretch their dollars. I put together a quick list of 10 cost saving ideas that will help as you begin planning for your upcoming show schedule.

  1. Design your new display using cost effective materials such as lightweight aluminum support structures and break-down kiosks and counters. You’ll save on shipping, drayage and on-site set-up labor.
  2. Refurbish your existing exhibit using bright colors, new graphics and video monitors to make a big bold statement. Make sure to allow enough production time to avoid rush charges and overnight shipping costs.
  3. New techniques in printing on fabric are incredible, with greater detail and more vibrant colors than ever before. And fabric graphics are lightweight, easy to change, and a snap to set up.
  4. Consider renting all or part of your display. You can add flexibility with new counters, towers and monitors; allowing you to adapt the components of your new ad campaigns and/or products.
  5. Downsize your square footage, utilizing attention-getting ideas and stressing quality over quantity. You should be able to get your brand the attention it deserves using well designed graphics, video monitors and well-trained booth staff.
  6. Consider smaller, regional shows instead of the large national events. You’ll save with less shipping and lower travel costs.
  7. Drayage is a costly expense and every crate and pallet will cost you depending on the weight of each. But when you ship boxes separately, not on pallets, you are charged a “special handling fee”. It could be as much as $50 per box, and that’s in addition to your UPS/FedEx charge.
  8. Schedule your set-up time to avoid overtime charges for union laborers, electricians and riggers. Some show management companies are now charging double time after 5:00, instead of time-and a-half. Plan ahead to avoid the after 5 OT.
  9. Make sure you have your orders for show services in by the deadline date, which is usually 3-4 weeks prior to the show opening. Labor, electrical, carpet, phone and internet connection providers will charge up to 35% more when ordered after the “due date”.
  10. Arrange your return shipping of your display with the same shipper you used to ship it to the show. The show management “designated shipper” will cost you more in additional fees.
  11. And a bonus idea, put some effort in gaining attention of your show presence with pre-show mailing, e-mail blasts and unique websites. Give the attendees a reason to seek you out at the show.

And of course, work with a reputable exhibit house to help you with all your show requirements, they will partner with you to provide these cost-effective measures.

Remember to take notice of what your competitor is doing. It’s better to be at the show with a scaled down display than not to be present at all. You may not be able to outspend the other guy, but you can outsmart them.

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