At a time of flat inflation, show services costs continue to rise at an extraordinarily rapid rate, putting a greater and greater squeeze on trade show marketing spend.

Because many of these costs are outside of exhibitors’ control, and continue to encompass more and more of the budget each year, it can sometimes leave exhibitors feeling like there’s no way to have a booth on the floor and still have budget left over to create an engaging experience, too. But we’re here to tell you that it is possible. It may take some work – and it will take a lot of smart planning – but with the right approach, you can maintain show services costs and deliver the ultimate trade show experience. Here are Exhibitpro’s three expert tips:

1.Partner with an Expert. We realize that this may sound cliché – or even like a sales pitch – but as the impact of show service costs continue to rise, the single most important thing you can do is to align yourself with an expert exhibit partner. An industry expert, like Exhibitpro, can help you not only plan for and navigate the costs up front, but will also have your back to negotiate on your behalf once the show ends. There are many service companies who will say they can handle your trade show as a cost-savings measure, but buyer beware. The reality is, in today’s world, only those who have expert industry knowledge and prior experience are going to know how to best plan and manage your budget to include both marketing and show services. Identifying and partnering with an experienced and knowledgable exhibit house, like Exhibitpro, may be the single most important thing you can do to help keep show service costs in check, so that you can focus on what really matters – the trade show experience for your customers and prospects.

2.Have Your Booth and an Engaging Experience, Too. While the rising cost of show services can leave marketers feeling like they have to choose show services over creative experiences, we can tell you that is simply not the case. You see, creativity doesn’t necessarily mean developing the biggest or most expensive booth, or even using the most high-tech solutions to capture attendee data. Creativity means using data and insights wisely to deliver the most meaningful, relevant solutions that will: (1) attract your target audience, and (2) engage them once they arrive. The good news: creative solutions can come in all shapes, sizes, and budget ranges. The key to success is having a good plan. And that plan comes from having all stakeholders meet with your exhibit partner to discuss objectives, analytics, resources, budgets, and concerns prior to work start. That way, an exhibit partner, like Exhibitpro, can create a holistic solution that meets the business goals, delivers a meaningful experience for your audience, contains show service costs, and delivers a total experience that fits within your allocated budget.

3.Limit gray area when it comes to labor budgets. Planning for and understanding the bevy of labor rules and requirements can sometimes be overwhelming, not to mention challenging to predict. Labor rates and union requirements do not only vary by geographic region, but can also vary significantly by venue. Thus, when strategically planning for your event, two things are critical to understand: (1) what work can be performed by your on-site team vs. what must be performed by union labor; and, (2) where one union stops and another starts. If you are relying on the show decorator to answer these questions, you may be in for a big surprise. Unfortunately, many times their published information, as well as their responses to your questions, are intentionally meant to leave you in gray-area territory, resulting in no clear and specific information. However, by utilizing an experienced trade show partner, like Exhibitpro, these questions and challenges can be seamlessly managed and coordinated in the most cost effective ways. In many cases, partnering with an experienced trade show partner, is the best way to ensure your exhibit presence can be designed and/or modified to help reduce added labor expenses.

What’s Next in Budget Matters?

Stay tuned for our next Budget Matters feature in December where we take an in-depth look at ways to maximize the post-show phase and provide tips for calculating the ROI from your tradeshow experience.

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