The trade show industry is complex and the variable costs tend to change from year to year. A common issue we find is that our clients are dealing with budget changes due to the increase in annual same-show costs specifically related to show relocations.

A show in Ohio this year may cost drastically more next year if the show is in San Francisco. Some locations are more expensive than others, and companies are constantly challenged by their budget considering these unpredictable year-over-year changes. So, the question remains: how can companies confidently set a budget in light of location changes from year-to-year?

With economic inflation, it’s safe to say that businesses will never be free to rely on the same budget from the previous year. Show relocations impact the company dollar, but so does labor costs and gas prices, which frequently change as well. Having said the obvious, we know that relocation costs are frustrating because of their inconsistencies, and we’re here with a few tips to help companies better plan for this influx.

How to estimate the overall budget

Multiple industry surveys have revealed that exhibit space floor rentals account for about one-third of an exhibitor’s total-show costs, this is relative, but something to keep in mind. The cost of floor space will always vary depending on the type of trade show and the location where it’s held. Be proactive in understanding this massive expense by determining what the floor space will cost in that area, and then multiply it by three. By doing this, exhibitors can see an estimated value of their overall trade show expenses in that location and can move forward with their budget outline from there. Again, this is a very rough cost but is a starting place. 

Travel expenses

After floor rental and booth space, travel expenses carry a large portion of the budget. Travel costs add up, especially when a show in based in New York City or San Francisco. Companies need to be prepared for these expensive changes tied to show relocation, and budget accordingly. Hotels, meals, show services, air travel and car rentals - they all add up, and some cities more than others. Know the number of staff you want present, as it may change according to where the show is held, and research the average travel and hospitality costs associated.

Never underestimate drayage

Shipping and drayage are two expenses that often shock companies. Don’t let the show relocation fool you: drayage is notorious to fluctuate. Shipping can carry a hefty expense, especially when the distance increases a few hundred miles. It’s crucial to not overlook these types of costs – we plan for shipping and drayage on behalf of our clients for every trade show.

Be sure to leave extra room for both shipping and drayage and just plan for an expensive city. You’d rather plan for too much than not enough.

Trade show relocations don’t have to eat company budgets alive. With careful planning and a strong trade show partner, you should be prepared for every cost. Shows are great for brands, and they’re certainly ever-evolving; every exhibitor can embrace these changes without intimidation when they understand the intricacies involved in them, and how that impacts their budget.

As companies plan for the next year, we hope these tips keep them moving toward success. If you have questions on the topic, reach out, we’re more than happy to bounce ideas around with you and help you plan accordingly.