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How to Budget for Trade Shows

How to Budget for Trade Shows

The marketing plan at any company is the foundation for success. If your industry relies on trade shows, you’ll want to budget to make sure the events fit into your marketing strategy. High price tags mean many companies never see the actual value in participating in an industry trade show. You can participate (and compete) using trade shows as part of your marketing plan, even with a relatively small budget. Here are some tips for allocating your budget to maximize your ROI.

Cost of the Actual Exhibit Space

The most crucial aspect of your budget is renting the space on the venue floor. Usually, about 30% of the entire budget goes toward a price per square foot. So, the larger your booth, the bigger the bill.

With a large trade show budget, you can rent a 20×20 or even a 50×50 space. With a smaller budget, consider a 10×10 space. There’s usually a fixed rate card for booth spaces, so booking early allows you to choose the best locations, like near the doors.

Outsourcing Services

Set up, take down and drayage all need to be in the budget. Set up and take down do cost something, but exhibitors seldom find it a successful DIY task. Drayage is the cost of shifting your exhibit materials from the docking bay at the convention hall to your rented space. The venue arranges this for you, so there is seldom negotiating room in the price. Industry standards suggest that 20% of your budget goes towards these three services.

If you arrange exhibit booth rentals from Local Exhibits, we look after all this for you at a discounted rate. This gives you more of your budget to allocate to space rental and booth design.

Trade Show Booth Designs

Good trade show booth designs differentiate you from your competition on the floor and draw people in. Your booth is the foundation of your entire campaign, but you only need to set aside 10% of your trade show’s budget.

To make sure your budget covers the design, start with listing the features you want to include. Then, show the list to the expert designers at Local Exhibits. They will work to incorporate everything possible into your budget.


If you attend a trade shows in another state, you’ll need to ship your trade show booth to the venue’s location from the manufacturing plant. Depending on how far it is, how your booth is packed and how much it weighs, this can get costly. Generally, keep 10% of your trade show budget available for shipping.


You need a well-trained staff in your booth to talk with prospects, showcase products, and capture leads. Industry-standard is up 20% of the budget for staffing, which might include travel, accommodation, food, and other expenses. Also, add actual training costs.

Promotions and Marketing

Another 5% should be available to promote before and during the event. Online and offline ads help support attendance and give you a reason to talk to current customers and prospects. 

Contingencies and Emergencies

About 5% should be left for contingencies and emergencies. A panel might need repair, or you may need more samples. Keep some budget aside for extra costs.

These tips should give you a good idea of how to allocate your budget for a trade show. Here at Local Exhibits, we help companies every day to get the most out of their trade show budgets and maximize impact and ROI. Reach out today, so we can help you make your next trade show the best one ever!