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How Should You Budget For A Trade Show?

Attending a trade show as a business can be rewarding and even fun, but the primary reason to go is to see some kind of return on your investment that results in business growth. However, attending a trade show does require some significant investment, to begin with. What’s the best way to ensure that the money you put in results in the new clients, customers, and business contacts that can make a difference to you?

The Biggest Expenditure

The most significant spending you’ll be doing for a trade show is the exhibit space rental. On average, most businesses allocate about 35% of their total trade show budget to this. In many respects, just how much you are willing to spend on the exhibit space itself will determine how large your total budget will be.

The average cost of trade show floor space is roughly $21 per square foot. However, this cost varies a lot based on the trade show itself and the placement of the floor space. Exhibit space near the show floor entrance tends to command a higher price.

Design & Installation

This portion typically involves bringing in professionals and working with experienced exhibit services to design, manufacture and then install the exhibit for your trade show. The average recommended amount of your total budget should be somewhere just over 10%.

This also varies a lot depending on your priorities. If you are aiming for a premium experience, you may want to invest more here for a more ambitious design using better materials, but again, this comes down to cost-effectiveness and expected ROI.

Travel Expenses

This is going to be another major expenditure. For some, depending on how many people will be staffing the exhibit space, this may even be the second most expensive expenditure. It’s recommended that you spend no more than 15% of your total budget on travel expenses.

Typically, over 10% is considered normal. 11-13% is regarded as a reasonable allocation from your total budget, though, of course, the number of participants, as well as the travel method, will count for a lot. A trade show taking place in your city, for example, should have a much lower travel budget if any.


This should get about 10% of your total budget, though this varies depending on priorities. How you market, such as online, print, or others, will also play a role in this costing.

If you’re thinking of taking part in a trade show and want to plan your exhibit, we can help. Contact Lighthouse Exhibits, and we can assist you with designing and constructing your trade show exhibit.

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