Hidden costs when buying a trade show exhibit

Trade Show Exhibit Purchases: Avoiding Hidden Costs

OK imagine this: as the new Trade Show Program Coordinator, you are in the market for a new display and the options are endless and prices vary wildly from one exhibit house to the next. How do you know what you are really getting and if the price you are being given is fair? What is the true cost of this display over a year's worth of shows?

There are many “hidden” exhibit costs and factors that must be considered in any display purchase decision. Processes, design techniques, build pricing, warranties, materials used and long-term exhibit functionality are all key elements in finding true value from your custom display manufacturer. It is important to understand how an exhibit house values these factors before you decide to work with them. How transparent and willing are they to discuss these points?

Cost of Ownership

Exhibits always needs to be updated, refreshed and repaired over time. Normal wear and tear on the show floor takes its toll. New branding as well as new product offerings or marketing campaigns may require visual changes to the booth. Where will you store the display when it is not being used? Shipping costs can add up if your display house are not experts at keeping exhibit weight down. Show services also ends up being a large line item cost and there can be sticker shock for the uninitiated. Make sure you have thorough discussions about how much it will cost to own and maintain a display over time. 

Of course we want to keep our build costs as low as possible but you certainly get what you pay for when it comes to exhibit construction materials. Cheap materials will be less durable and end up costing you more when things break, scratch, dent, or require repair.  Shipping, set up and dismantle causes wear and tear on any display. Have a frank discussion about what kinds of materials, fixtures, lighting and shipping crates are used so you can feel comfortable about how long your display will last and how well it will hold up over multiple events.

Is your new display designed to be used in different exhibit space sizes and configurations? A well designed booth can be adapted to fit variable footprints and traffic patterns. Depending on the number of shows and size requirements, a fully realized booth can be used as a “core” of a display system where components can be rented to increase the size of the display for particular shows. Ask questions about the flexibility of the display in different show environments and how that will affect future costs of attending shows with the exhibit you are purchasing.

Steer clear of companies that do not offer a warranty on graphics as well as the structure itself. An exhibit house should stand behind their work and make right any defects that might occur. Apple Rock stands behind their work and quality and offers a One-Year Warranty on graphics and a Two-Year Warranty on the structure. Unforeseen repair costs for faulty construction should not end up being a line item on your budget. Ask any display builder how their warranties work and what happens if you have a quality control issue.

It is not always possible to get a true apples-to-apples comparison between exhibit houses. But, by understanding the durability of the materials used, warranty offerings, costs of ownership and the ability to re-configure you can create a clear picture of the company that is providing the most overall value for your trade show budget. The lowest up-front cost exhibit is rarely the better deal in the long run. Looking at the big picture – the life span of the exhibit and expected costs – will help you determine the best exhibit house for you.

Apple Rock's trade show pros are offering a free 1-hour consultation to discuss your display needs and how we can help to make the very most of your budget.


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