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  • Writer's pictureExhibit Associates

Budget?!? I don't need no stinking budget!

Actually you do. 50x50 with a double deck inside of it to a table throw and a banner stand all are controled by the budget. Now if you measure your ROI, you can make the case for a larger budget. But that another story.

Creating a budget for trade shows is not magic. It involves various factors. Here's a step-by-step approach to budgeting for shows in 2024:

  1. Define Objectives: Determine the goals for participating in each trade show. Are you aiming for lead generation, brand awareness, product launches, or networking?

  2. Research and Selection: Identify the trade shows that align with your objectives and target audience. Research their costs, booth fees, location, and potential ROI.

  3. Allocate Budget Categories:

  • Booth Space: Estimate the costs for booth space rental. Prices vary based on size and location.

  • Booth Design and Construction: Budget for design, graphics, construction, and any required materials or technology.

  • Marketing and Promotion: Include expenses for pre-show marketing, advertising, promotional materials, and giveaways.

  • Travel and Accommodation: Plan for travel costs, accommodations, and expenses for staff attending the show.

  • Staff Training and Expenses: Consider costs for training, uniforms, meals, and any additional staff-related expenses.

  1. Prioritize Shows: Prioritize trade shows based on their potential ROI and relevance to your company's goals. Allocate a larger budget to high-priority shows.

    1. You do not have to bring the same booth to each show. But each booth should be on point when it comes to brand and messaging.

  2. Contingency and Miscellaneous: Set aside a portion of the budget for unexpected expenses or last-minute needs that may arise.

    1. "Where's Bob?" questions will always lead to additional expenses.

    2. What does "Where's Bob?" mean. can help

  3. Track and Review: Regularly review and track budget allocations against actual expenses. Adjustments may be necessary based on changing circumstances or unforeseen costs.

  4. Post-Show Evaluation: After each trade show, assess the actual costs versus the expected ROI. Use this information to refine future budgeting and strategy.

    1. Can you count the qualified leads?

    2. Can you track the follow ups?

      1. How many meetings did sales attend as a result of the tradeshow?

  5. Long-Term Planning: Consider whether annual or multi-year contracts with trade shows might offer cost-saving opportunities. Long-term planning can help negotiate better rates.

    1. Plan. Plan. And then Plan some more. It will save money.

  6. Technology and Innovation: Allocate a portion of the budget for incorporating new technologies or innovations that could enhance your exhibit's impact.

Remember, budgeting for trade shows requires flexibility and adaptability. The economy will change, expenses will pop up and if the company moves in a different direction expect an adjustment in your tradeshow budget. (Do you think the tradeshow manager is in on the meetings about strategic direction, or just has to respond to the changes?)

Regular monitoring, assessment, and strategic planning are essential for effective budget management.


Exhibit Associates is a full service exhibit house. Which means we can design, build, manage, execute on your tradeshow booth. Tradeshow Booths, Corporate Displays and Museum Exhibits are our wheelhouse, along with execution on experiential marketing programs. Since 1978 clients have come to us for their display and exhibit needs.

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