7 Tips for Better Trade Show Planning

The Situation: 

You find yourself in charge of your company’s trade show planning, and you’re being asked to submit a new budget, or evaluate an old one. What now? Here are a few tips to help guide you through the planning process.

Tip #1- Tradeshow Program Costs

A trade show budget will generally equal around 3X the cost of your space. This changes depending on the size of the exhibit, but what doesn’t change is the fact that mounting a trade show requires a significant amount of mind share, resources, and capital, as well as the ability to define and maintain tight timelines.

Tip #2 – Exhibit budget must-haves.

  • Space

  • Build & Design (or Rental & Design)

  • Graphics

  • Carpet/Flooring

  • Storage

  • Shipping & Drayage

  • Installation and Dismantle (also called I&D)

  • Convention Center Show Services

  • Pre-, at-, and post-event marketing program

  • Travel

  • Client Meetings & Entertainment

Tip #3 –Display budget

Before working with MDS, many of our clients seldom thought about their “booth design” as a separate line-item, and did not want to share their budget. MDS suggests that a production budget be clearly defined EARLY in a project.  This saves everyone time, and actually empowers our designers to be more creative so that your company receives the maximum amount of property within the specified budget.

Tip #4 – Learn about the Venue

Discuss the specifics of your convention center with your exhibit house and ask them review the floor plan. You need to know:

  • Where is the floor entrance, food courts, meeting rooms, etc. in relation to your booth?

  • What is the predominant color of the hall and ceiling? (This affects booth design, graphics, etc.)

  • Where are the main electric drops? from the ceiling? or floor?

  • Are there any columns that could block or divert traffic flow?

  • Where are your key competitors located?

Tip #5 – Define a graphics budget

Graphics are the most powerful way to dress-up your display, so at least 10-15% of your overall event budget should be dedicated to new graphics.

  • Update your graphics at least once a year to maintain a fresh appearance.

  • Contrasting colors supported by a simple layout will help you stand out.

  • Less text = More impact. (See what I did there?)

  • Consult your exhibit house graphic design team for a fresh set of eyes. What looks good on a datasheet may not work on a show floor.

Tip #6 – Shipping

Ship your exhibit properties in advance so they may arrive as early as possible. This will cost a little more, but the convenience and peace-of-mind are worth it. Only send a few small things to your hotel; things you can hand-carry.

Tip #7 – Gather input from everyone at your company

Marketing, sales, upper-management, and C-levels often have very different ideas about what success at a trade show looks like.  Therefore, it is very important to gather input from each of these groups BEFORE you start your planning. This ensures that what you create will be seen as a success by everyone at your company.