How to Exhibit on a Budget

Exhibiting at a trade show can be a fairly significant investment for a small company – you have to pay for the space, buy or hire a stand and then there are all the ancillary costs like electricity supply, promotional items and hotels for staff – it all adds up.  But the benefits of exhibiting can be huge, it can bring in large numbers of qualified leads and really boost your brand recognition.

So how can you exhibit on a budget?  Here we cover some of the ways to slim down the costs of attending a tradeshow.

1. Stay local while exhibiting

The costs of travelling to a trade show, staying in hotels and eating out can quickly mount up. If you’re new to exhibiting, test the waters with a local show first. You may not get the same volume of leads, but it may generate a better return on investment than a big national or international event.

2. Consider the exhibition space

Firstly, work out how much space you really need.  There is no point booking a huge space and then not having the budget to fill it with anything.  Plenty of exhibitors do very well without an enormous space.  You can still attract attention with your stand even in a modest space.  It’s better to invest in a unique, eye-catching stand than blow your budget on the space then only have a couple of roll-up banners in it.

For maximum impact, with minimum spend, consider where in the hall you want to be.  It’s better to book a space that will get heavy footfall to attract the most visitors.  Locating near restaurants or toilets is a good idea as that is where people congregate.  Also being close to but not right by the entrance can be beneficial – people will want to escape the crowds right at the entrance but then they will be looking around and will see you.

3. Your exhibition stand

If you’ve exhibited before and have a pop-up stand and accessories kicking about – make the most of them. Most stands are well made and are designed to be used time and time again.  Sourcing new graphics is cheaper than a whole new stand.

If it’s your first time, you don’t have to invest a fortune in a custom built, all singing and dancing stand to have a presence at a trade show.  These often end up in the skip at the end of the show so are very wasteful.  Modular stands can be a great, affordable option, and they can be reused time and time again.  If you need a fresh look, it is simple to reconfigure them and change a few graphic panels, if you buy one of our modular stands we will help you do this for free.  They pack away in easily transportable storage boxes so avoid expensive transport and storage costs, you should be able to store them yourself.

If you’re only planning to go to one or two trade shows, hiring a stand may be a better option.  Buying a stand is cheaper in the long run spread over many exhibitions but if you’re just dipping your toes in the water why not hire one and see how it goes?  We offer great rates on hiring and self-build packages, or we can supply contractors to build it for you on a simple day rate.



4. Be modest

If the plan is to exhibit on a budget it would be a good idea to avoid some outstanding design solutions. Raised floors, double deck stands, and hanging constructions not only are expensive to implement but usually also require additional paid permissions.  Also consider what items you really need on the stand.  Flashy audio-visual equipment and mini-bars are great for attracting attention, but unnecessary if you are on a budget.

5. Keep your graphics simple

You don’t need to overspend on complicated graphics in your exhibition stand.  The key is to get something that will cover your back wall and sides with simple graphic panels that have impactful messaging instead of overly done specialty fabric or complicated wrapped graphics.  By keeping it simple but impactful, your can stick to your exhibition budget. 



6. Book a trade show in early

The early bird catches the worm, and many trade shows offer early bird discounts on space bookings so it’s worth planning ahead.  Keep an eye out for when a trade show is announced and get in there quickly.  This will also enable you to pick the best spot.  Negotiate further if you intend to exhibit at more than one show organised by the same company.

Hotels and transport for staff can also be cheaper if booked in advance so it’s worth being organised and booking 9-12 months before the event.

7. Display promotional items

Once you’ve booked your space and thought about your stand, it’s now time to think about your promotional items. Giveaways are a staple at all tradeshows, but you don’t have to invest in promotional materials that break the bank.  Most visitors attending exhibitions are there to meet new businesses, network and to pick up nuggets of information and ideas that they can take-away.

Look out for offers, and buying in bulk will usually get you a discount.  You can also make them go further by tucking them away behind a desk and only giving them out to those genuinely interested in your business.  The freebie hunters are generally easy to spot!

Exhibiting at a trade show brings many benefits, from brand awareness to networking to gaining qualified leads.  However, the costs can quickly snowball.  Follow these tips to get the best return on your investment.  For help planning your next exhibition, call us on 0800 019 2141 or email

Bespoke Design With Your Branding