Trade Show Marketing Budget


Like any marketing activity, for a trade show to be a success and generate a decent ROI (Return on Investment), it requires careful planning. Setting a proper budget is part of that planning process.  To help you with this we have put together a free exhibition budgeting tool which you can download here. This should help you allocate your budget and take all the necessary costs into account. 

Exhibiting at a trade show involves more costs than simply booking the space and buying or hiring an exhibition stand.  In your trade show marketing budget, you also need to take into account travel, accommodation and food costs for staff, electricity, furniture rental, AV equipment rental and promotional items.  If you are working to a tight budget see our blog here for exhibition budgeting tips.



Exhibition Space

You should be aiming to spend 25% to 35% of your marketing budget on booking the space.  Don’t make the common mistake of allocating too much money to booking a big space, leaving not enough to design a decent stand.  There is no point in having a huge space with nothing to fill it.  It is better to book a smaller space and invest in a really eye-catching stand which will draw in the crowds.

Spaces in exhibitions are allocated on a first come first served basis so it is worth booking early to try and get a good spot.  It is a good idea to do this 6 months in advance of the show.  You can also often get early bird discounts from show organisers. 

You will be given the option of booking a shell scheme or space only.  If you are new to exhibiting or on a limited budget a shell scheme is a good option as it includes walls, lighting, flooring and electricity.  Having these items included in the price can save you money.  The downside of shell schemes is that they are grouped together around the edges of the hall, making it difficult to stand out from your competitors.

Booking a space only booth means you have to provide flooring, walls, electricity and lighting.  But you are likely to get a prime position in the hall giving you the opportunity to attract large crowds.  For more information on these two booth types see our blog here.



Exhibition Stand Design

You should be allocating at least 40% of your budget to designing your stand.  Having a bespoke, eye-catching stand is the best way to draw attention at a trade show.  With all your competitors, prospects and maybe customers in one place, you want to make a good impression.

On average, an exhibition stand will cost twice as much as your floor space costs you. We suggest spending about half of your budget, however, there are options to reduce this cost. We offer fixed price exhibition stands for customers who have booked a shell scheme space. Click here to check them out.


Travel, Accommodation and Entertainment

The third greatest expense, after floor space and exhibition stand design, is travelling to and from the trade show, booking accommodation, and entertaining prospective customers and staff.  According to the Trade Show Institute, the average exhibitor spends 21% of their budget on travel, accommodation and entertainment.

Just as booking ahead for a trade show will save you money on floor space, you can save a lot of money on hotel rooms and flights by booking ahead of time. Try to book as soon as the event is announced if you have already committed to attending.

If you plan to meet up with customers or prospects at the show, make sure you keep some of your budget for entertaining.  Given how busy the trade show floor can be, it might be better to meet customers after the show for dinner.


Furniture Hire

You will need to provide some furniture on your stand for visitors to relax in while you discuss their requirements.  Show organisers will provide furniture to hire, but you might be better off sourcing your own as you can reuse it for other trade shows.  Folding tables and chairs can be bought quite cheaply and are fairly easy to transport and store.  If you can’t store or transport furniture renting a standard bar stool costs around £50, and a table will cost you £100. To hire three stools and a table you are looking at an average of £250.



Audio Visual Equipment

Hiring AV equipment allows you to demonstrate your products in a different way and provides another means to interact with visitors whilst drawing attention to your stand.  Renting a 40” TV will typically cost £250 - £300 for a show.


You will need electricity to be run to your stand to power lights and any AV equipment.  This is usually done by the exhibition organiser’s contractors.  A typical stand will need at least 3 sockets which cost around £120 each.



It is a good idea to allocate some of your budget to pre-show marketing.  This can be anything from distributing a press release, organising a networking event or email marketing.  Contacting all existing and potential customers to let them know about your attendance at the show is a good way to set up meetings.  Advertising in the show catalogue will cost from £200 upwards.


Promotional Materials

Handing out branded merchandise is a good way to draw visitors to your stand, everyone loves a freebie!  Pens are cheap but you will be one of many.  Try to come up with something useful like a branded mouse mat or memory stick.  Expect these to cost £2 - £5 each if you buy in bulk.

Running a competition is a good way to gather leads at a show but the prize has to be worthwhile so make sure you save some of your budget for this.


Trade Show Marketing Budget Tool

Now we have outlined the costs involved in exhibiting at a trade show you can use our free tool to work out your budget, simply enter the details and the formulas will do the rest.  This should simplify your exhibition planning process and ensure that you don’t leave anything out.  Exhibiting at a trade show has many benefits, you just need to make sure you plan it properly in order to maximise your ROI (Return on Investment).

For help with planning your next exhibition call us on 0800 019 2141 or email




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