How to Save Money on Your Next Trade Show

Even in our growing digital communication age Face -to-Face Marketing is more important than ever. We are seeing an increase in clients doing more shows and increasing their trade show budgets. How you spend those dollars can be the deciding factor on whether or nor you have a successful show or show season. We would rather help you spend you budget wisely and strategically.

One thing we pride ourselves on here at Apple Rock is our transparency. There are a lot of factors that go into creating, building, shipping, installing, storing and maintaining exhibit materials and we want to make sure our clients are making the best strategic decisions. While there are many factors that we do not have control over – shipping costs, drayage, labor fees, etc. – there are also many factors we can control and help find ways to save money.

Here are our top 5 tips on saving money for your next trade show or event:

  1. Plan Early!
    Sounds obvious right? Not always. For many of our clients who have very full trade show schedule as soon as summer hits they are ready to take their foot off the gas and hibernate until August. Think about that, if all event planners are doing this then wouldn’t the beginning of summer be the BEST time to work with your design partners for the fall season, putting yourself at the front of the line versus the back?

    Planning in June and July vs August can not only be more relaxing, it can also save you money. The sooner you plan the more thoughtful your designers can be with creating a fresh design for the fall. Given everyone time to find new ways to present your brand, find areas to save money along with possibly better areas to shift budget dollars for better ROO and ROI. After all, the early bird catches better deals (which are much tastier than worms!)!
  2. Material Savings
    When you wait later to plan for your display, many times you find yourself rushing against the clock to get all the materials you need and paying expedited fees to do so. Planning early gives you time to make thoughtful decisions, find better deals, and take advantage of ground (sometimes free) shipping. If you looked back at all the money you have spent in the past on rush fees you might be surprised. Then think about how you could apply that money on adding value to your display with new graphics, new technology, better promotional items, etc.

  3. Advance Savings
    When you plan early and design early you can also take advantage of advance discounts. Once you have your space planned out you can then easily order all your show services early taking advantage of the early bird rates. You can also take the time to get multiple bids on your shipping to find a better price. Most of all you can ship your display and Exhibit materials to the Advance Warehouse resulting in cost savings and possibly labor savings too because your shipment will be in your booth waiting for them versus the other way around.
  4. Labor Teams
    When you work ahead of the curve you get to make a lot of preferential choices, including your labor team. We have been in the industry for 31 years and have worked with different labor companies and groups all over the country. Over the years we have made a list of our favorites in the cities we work. So, when we can plan early for a client, we are able to book our favorite teams. While this does not seem like a direct cost savings there are many benefits to work with your favs. The most important is that you already have an established, trusting relationship and they most likely already know the booth design and needs of your client. This alone can reduce the install time because they are not learning it as they go. They tend to work more efficiently also saving you time, and time is money. But is also reduces the room for errors which costs money.
  5. Travel Plans
    Once you have the booth design and services locked in, don’t forget about travel plans for you and your team. In many cases booking hotels early give you better selection and possibly even better group rate discounts. But I also read years ago, that the optimal time to book airfare is 42 days out. I wish I could find that article to share with you, but the point has always stuck with me.


Remember the early bird has the better bottom line. Collaborate with one of our knowledgeable trade show experts to create the best strategic plan to help you save money on your fall show show without sacrificing design and style!

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