If you’re like most trade show exhibitors, you’re usually looking for ways to cut costs. The trick is finding cost-saving measures that are worth the time they take to implement. The following ten tips are guaranteed to significantly reduce how much you spend on your trade show displays, all without costing you a fortune in time and effort.
Mark Your Calendar
Trade show organizers provide loads of incentives designed to bring exhibitors on board as quickly as possible. Early bird rates offer amazing saving potential. You also get savings on travel and accommodations, and typically get a better location when you register early. Early registration may also include discounts on show services; it’s almost always than day-of pricing. Between early bird pricing and discounts, you save hundreds of dollars, maybe even thousands.
Consider Renting Your Exhibit
If you only exhibit once or twice a year, renting an exhibit may be your best option. Highway 85 builds pop-up displays and modular displays to rent, and even creates custom rental exhibits. Not only does renting reduce your upfront costs, it also means you don’t have to pay for storage or repairs.
Trim Your Travel Budget
You have a lot of options here. First, of course, is the hotel, since booking your team into rooms located off-site typically results in lower rates. However, not every exhibitor considers these savings worth the cost, since staying offsite eats into your networking opportunities. If you do opt for off-site, don’t be afraid to negotiate and ask the hotel to include extras, such as breakfast, in the price. You can also look for travel sites that offer discounts when you buy hotel and airfare together.
Another potential saving is the travel per diem you offer your staff. It’s basically a given that people are more generous with the company’s money. So, offer to split whatever portion of their per diem they don’t spend. If you pay $100 per day and the employee only spends $50, you and the employee can split the remaining $50. Multiplied by three or four days and numerous employees, these savings can add up quickly.
Take Control of Your Power
You have a couple of options here. First, you can reduce your electricity requirements with battery-powered lighting. You can also employ a mobile power center to operate small electronics. Second, if you opt for show-supplied power, don’t pay for more than you actually need. Connect your appliances to a power meter to determine their actual needs, then total it all up. Your estimates will be much more accurate.
Avoid Using Products and Services Provided On-Site
The one constant of trade shows is that you will, at some point, need something you never considered. Pack everything you can think of – electrical tape, power cords, surge protectors, batteries, aspirin, trash cans, cleaning supplies – and avoid the high cost of getting the items mentioned above from the hotel or exhibit site.
If you plan to offer treats in your booth, make sure they’re in branded, sealed packaging (unless you want to use the show’s caterer). This makes them giveaways, not consumables. Finally, provide your own Internet connection via mobile Wi-Fi hotspot. Using the show provider’s Wi-Fi could cost hundreds if not thousands of dollars. Unfortunately, unless you connect via VPN, free Wi-Fi is too dangerous, as well as being unreliable.
Explore Material and Display Options
Talk to your designer about the variety of materials available, including how well they stand up to time and being knocked about, which are easier to store, and which make for quick and easy setup and teardown. Fabric displays, in particular, typically come at a lower price while remaining of high quality. They’re also lightweight and easy to assemble and disassemble.
Be Strategic with Your Graphic Design
Try to keep the vast majority of your graphics – at least 80 percent – non-show specific. This helps reduce the changes and updates required for each new trade show. If you also make the switch from print to digital graphics, you’ll enjoy both time and financial savings, since changes and updates are quick and easy when done on a digital platform.
Explore Packing and Storage Options
If cost is a greater concern than convenience, consider storing your exhibit materials away from the exhibit house. Whatever storage facility you choose, look for a location with climate control to help keep your materials safe. In addition, go through your inventory occasionally – at least once a year – and remove any display components you no longer need or want. You’ll save on storage and shipping costs and you may even make a few dollars, if you sell or donate the items.
Get Creative with Shipping
Some items are cheaper to buy over and over than they are to store and have delivered. For example, shipping monitors and TVs is risky, since they’re so prone to disaster. Buying them locally or online and then having them shipped directly to the venue, means you aren’t storing or shipping the item. Afterward, you donate the monitor and enjoy the tax write-off.
Embrace Multi-Use Engagement Tools
Any exhibit items that you can integrate with your regular marketing and promotional materials significantly expands those dollars. Display them in your showroom, post them on your website, or incorporate them into marketing campaigns to get the greatest bang for your buck.