Getting Back to Trade Shows on a Limited Budget

The Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) recently predicted a return to trade shows in the second half of 2021. While the job impact is heartbreaking, being on track for a return this year is welcome news. Regardless, there is still uncertainty about how well shows will be attended. And that’s probably taken a hit on your budget. 

Whether you’re an expert exhibitor or new to shows, controlling trade show costs is critical in times like these. Check out the money saving tips below to help you get the most from a limited budget.  

Trade Shows Budget Minder

1.Consider a smaller booth space until shows fully rebound. Booth space typically consumes about 30% of your overall spend. A smaller booth is a fast way to cut costs.

2. Take advantage of exhibitor services discounts. Get your rigging, electrical, plumbing and internet order forms submitted by the early bird discount date. This can save you as much as 30%.

3. Hit your target-in and target-out dates. Failure to do so will cost you penalty fees – and overtime.

4. Save on material handling/drayage by packing for the CWT (aka hundredweight) minimum. For example, let’s assume a show’s minimum is 2 CWT (or 200 lbs.) and the rate is $100/pound. If you send three 75-pound cartons, each carton will be charged at the 200-pound minimum. This will cost you a whopping $600 in drayage! By combining two of those packages into one, you’ll save $200. Drayage costs add up quickly, so pay close attention and pack accordingly.

5. Use lightweight trade show booth properties to reduce freight, drayage, and labor costs. Stretch fabrics on aluminum frames weigh less than wood structures. By adding custom graphics and lighting, you can create significant visual appeal. These structures are engineered for easy set-up and tear-down, as well.

6. Refresh, don’t re-do. If you own existing booth properties, you can extend their life by adding new graphic skins. Re-purposing what you already own is a great way to save money.

7. Go with a turnkey rental exhibit that is developed to help off set costs with set pricing for each design variation that includes the rental exhibit and on-site services. Rental exhibits have a custom look, on a budget.

8. Leave the literature and freebies at home. Emailing your literature to prospects after the show gives you an opportunity to keep the conversation going. Shipping a give-away post-show reminds the prospect of his/her visit to your booth.

9. Send small packages to your hotel and hand carry them in. Most trade show organizers and general service contractors have strict policies against doing your own material handling. However, small cartons carried in by your set-up crew is usually ignored. Just don’t overdo it!

Exhibitors can also reduce costs by managing their booth personnel schedules, bidding out freight carriers, using local storage facilities between events, and much more. Your trade show vendor should be able to help you find the best ways to save. At Rogers, we’ve never met a budget we couldn’t hit. Ask us how. 


The Rogers Company is an award-winning experiential storyteller that helps its clients convey powerful brand stories that stand out from the competition. With more than 75 years in business, we continue to evolve and remain committed to delivering exceptional service levels and innovative solutions to our customers.   

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