Setting a trade show or conference budget

Have you been asked to plan the company’s upcoming trade show, but have no clue where to start? Well, before calling an exhibit design house, like Apple Rock, you must first decide on a reasonable budget with your management team or marketing department. When creating a budget, the amount of money you plan on spending should be directly related to accomplishing the goals and objectives you previously set for your exhibit. After the budget has been decided, it’s time to start planning how to spend it. Below you will find a basic allocation chart that breaks down how you should spend your trade show budget.



Exhibit Space


Exhibit Design and Construction


Exhibit Shipping


Show Services


Exhibit Promotion


Show Travel/Lodging


Graphics Design and Production


Other Exhibit-Related Items



If you were not given a budget, but need to estimate how much money you will spend, simply multiple the cost of your exhibit space by three. So, if it cost $4,000 for the exhibit space, the total cost of the trade show will be around $12,000. Keep in mind, these numbers will fluctuate depending on the market and venue of the show.

As you are planning your budget make sure you allocate the funds based on your goals. For example, if your number one goal is to generate more qualified leads, then spend more money on exceptional talent or interactive lead generation technology while leaving collateral materials and giveaways out of the equation. Your exhibit design house would be more than happy to help you plan and budget your trade show booth, ensuring optimal results.

Money Saving Tips

  • If you are doing multiple shows in a year, ask vendor partners about discounts. They won’t offer them until you ask.
  • Don’t wait to the last minute for anything. You will incur rush charges on everything. Planning early allows you to take advantage of discounts as well.
  • Don’t forget about labor unions! When attending a show in a forced-union state, add 25% to your total bill.
  • A general rule of thumb on booth staffing is to have one staff person for every 50 square feet of open exhibit space.  
  • Make sure you review your invoices at the end of a show and look carefully for billing discrepancies and over charges. Ask questions if you don’t understand the charges or how they are described.