Trade Show Overages and Ways to Minimize Them

As an Event Planner, your goal is to put on a hugely successful event while staying within (or under) budget.  On the trade show floor there can be things that happen that push you over your expected spend.  While it is suggested to budget about five to ten percent over the anticipated expenses in order to account for these type of add-ons, some can exceed this extra padding.  To help you stay on budget and be aware of the possible costs, we want to share with you the typical show floor overages to watch for and ways to minimize them.   

Advanced ordering

The first thing to do when receiving your show book is to identify the advanced order deadline.  By placing your orders by a certain date, the rates are lower.  Considering all that you may be ordering, taking advantage of a discounted rate will surely help your budget.


While shipping to the advanced warehouse may initially cost more than shipping directly to the show, it will help you avoid lots of unexpected costs (such as your truck having a long wait time in the marshalling yard or your labor getting paid to stand and wait for your crates to deliver).  

Material Handling

Last month we disected material handing charges. The most important thing you need to know is that you will be charged for every shipment that arrives at the advanced warehouse or directly to the show.  The best way to avoid additional charges is to consolidate to one shipment.  If you need to send something after your exhibit has shipped, this may mean putting those business cards that were printed last minute in your luggage or shipping them to your hotel.  If you ship it to the show, you will be charged material handling for that single, small box, and often times there is a minimum delivery charge.  Those costs add up!

Installation & Dismantle

The key for keeping your labor costs on budget are to keep everything on straight time.  When your labor team moves to overtime, you are looking at often twice the rate of straight time.  The best way to prepare is to strategically schedule your labor start time to coincide with the weekdays of installation and dismantle (while also keeping in mind when your freight is scheduled to deliver to your space).  With your labor scheduled (on straight time!), the most ideal strategy is to have a supervisor on site (whether from your exhibit builder or your organization).  This person is able to direct the team, keep them on task, and answer any questions that arise.  It’s also a great idea to send several copies of the engineered set-up instructions and packing instructions so the team has a clear understanding how everything goes up and then packs away at the end of the show.  Clearly labeling the crates/packages and providing a packing list helps the labor team quickly locate the parts and pieces they are looking for.  And since visuals are always helpful, we suggest packing photographs of the exhibit set up.  This not only helps your installation crew visualize what they are building, but also aids in identifying specific graphic placement (especially if many graphics are the same size). 

Rental and miscellaneous items

There may be some items that are easy to order from the general contractor at the show, such as a literature rack, waste basket, or table.  While it is easy, it will cost you.  Your best bet is to purchase these items in advance and ship with your exhibit (especially smaller items), order them by the advanced deadline, or if you have easy access around the show city, make a quick trip to a local store that can fulfill these needs.  It’s also a great idea to run through the show book to see all the offerings to determine in advance what you may have forgotten about.  A common item forgotten is cleaning.  With traffic going in and out of your space all day, your floor may require vacuuming to look fresh and polished for the next day.  Don’t forget to either order cleaning in advance or determine if including a vacuum in your shipment (or purchasing locally) and having your staff run it at the end of the day makes the most sense. 

No one likes to receive their bill to find it is significantly higher than what they had budgeted, so following these suggestions will help keep you a step ahead of any potential overages. Apple Rock's Account Services Team can help you maneuver all the expenses and work with you to stay on budget. So whether we designed or built your exhibit for you, we can certainly manage your booth and your services for you. Contact us today to discuss our event planning options. 


Alison JamesEvent Marketer & Brand Enthusiast

Alison has been with Apple Rock for 12 years. She is not only an industry expert, but also an experienced brand ambassador for all her clients. When she is not working hard for her clients she is enjoying the thrills of parenthood, along with her husband, to their 12 month old son. 

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