When determining your trade show ROI, every cent counts. Keeping a meticulous record of trade show costs can help you prepare for next year’s show schedule and program budget. Plus, staying on top of your invoices can uncover mathematical errors or typos that could, unknowingly, impact your bottom line. Here are some tips to save money and help improve your ROI.
Plan for Shipping and Handling Costs to Maximize Trade Show ROI
Getting your exhibit to and from a show is an inevitable line item in your budget. Costs associated with transporting all of the components of an exhibit to the show and then returning them to storage, or on to the next show, are fairly predictable, particularly if attention is paid in advance to the policies and schedules of the transportation company.
1. Prioritize Return Shipping
An easy step to overlook is return shipping for your booth elements. Booking a return trip for shipping at the last minute can lead to elevated, non-negotiable pricing. In addition, once dismantled for shipment by an event’s Installation & Dismantle (I&D) crew, you do not want your crates to linger on the trade show floor, running the risk of being damaged or misplaced in the after-show chaos.
Having your outbound shipping documentation in-hand and ready to turn in as soon as dismantle is complete will not only save you worry, but will avoid higher shipping costs.
2. Buy Crates Built for Your Exhibit
There’s nothing more frustrating than investing in an attention-grabbing exhibit, only to have it be delivered to the trade show floor in a damaged state. Make sure your exhibit house constructs crates specifically designed to protect all aspects of your property. Also, properly constructed crates decrease storage rates as these crates can be stacked in a warehouse.
3. Go Green
From brochures to sales sheets, paper materials are an age-old marketing tactic that requires a significant investment to print. In today’s world of technology, not only does paper take up physical space in the booth, but its weight also adds to shipping costs. Toss the paper, and use video screens, laptops or tablets to communicate the same information, as well as deliver the information to your visitor electronically right on the spot.
4. Recognize Handling Costs
Drayage, also known as material handling, is the movement of your booth from the carrier’s vehicle to its resting place on the trade show floor by the show’s general contractor. This service includes offloading your property from the freight carrier, delivering it to your space, removing empty crates and storing them, and then returning the crates once the show closes. The general contractor will also load your crates onto your designated freight carrier.
Usually, rates are less expensive to ship your exhibit directly to where the show is being held, versus sending it to an advance warehouse. Consideration needs to be given as to the time needed for setup and any potential for overtime during the setup process. Given that there are many factors that impact drayage, it is wise to review shipping and setup options with an experienced exhibit house.
Boost Trade Show ROI by Minimizing Setup Costs
The key to reducing setup costs is careful planning. From booth design to event services, you can uncover opportunities to save money with setup costs.
5. Understand Your Electrical Needs
Just like owning a home, having an idea of how much energy and power your booth requires can help save you money. You’ll need to understand your booth’s electrical configuration. Use a power meter to help get an accurate depiction of just how much power your booth needs to operate. As a result, you can choose the show’s electrical package that gets the job done, without wasting precious budget dollars.
Once the show is over, double check that your invoice matches the package in your agreement. Electricians can easily and accidentally use another exhibitor’s layout for electrical hookups on your booth.
6. Plan for and Reserve Event Services Appropriately
Discuss with your team which of the services offered by the event are absolutely necessary. If there are certain services that are non-negotiable, don’t wait until the last minute to book them. Discount rates are often available for meeting deadlines for securing certain services. Cleaning, power and internet are common services that exhibitors consider, but events can charge more to those who modify or add services during show time.
7. Rent a Trade Show Booth
Event managers have three options when it comes to investing in a booth: buying, renting or going hybrid (a combination of the first two). If you’re only attending a few shows, or you’re just beginning your trade show program, renting an exhibit is a great way to cut initial costs.
As compared to a custom, purchased exhibit design, renting enables you to pay significantly less up front. Plus, because you don’t own the exhibit, you won’t face cost of ownership expenses such as repair or storage fees during the booth’s lifetime. Renting is the perfect option for exhibitors with a limited capital expenditure budget, or for those new to a market whose marketing and branding are still evolving. Also, with this approach, you can try various designs before you commit to building a custom exhibit.