“How much does a trade show booth cost?”
That’s a great question, but one that comes with as many answers as there are trade show booth suppliers. Industry standards report that a buyer can expect to pay in the neighborhood of $100 to $150 per square foot for a custom, 20’ by 20’ island booth. Our experience has shown that, on average, you’re likely to spend between $45 to $60 per square foot for smaller booth spaces in the range of 10’ by 10’ or 10’ by 20’.
If you are asking this question, though, it likely means that you’re new to the trade show environment. In this case, your next question you should be, “Who can help me navigate this new adventure so that I may have the best experience?”
When purchasing a smaller-scale trade show booth, the temptation is often to use an “off-the-shelf” internet vendor to keep costs down. The drawback to this approach is that you aren’t able to consult with a real person on the important questions—questions that will make all the difference in your overall experience. Remember, the cost of your booth is just one part of the total expense. You must also calculate travel and lodging, the sponsorship or booth space rental, shipping, drayage (shipping of your booth once it gets to the venue), potential union labor, electrical, carpeting, and the list goes on.
A good distributor of trade show booths can help you realize all of the costs associated with exhibiting. They can ask the questions that are most important to customizing your booth to fit your specific needs like:
- Do you plan to set this up by yourself? How many people will be setting it up, or will you need hired help?
- Do you have products to display and, if so, what is the best way to get your customers to interact with those products?
- Do you need extra storage space inside your booth?
- How do you want your customers to interact with your staff?
- Are you planning to use technology (e.g. TV, iPad/tablet)? How important is an internet connection in accomplishing your goals?
- How often will you use the display?
- How must the display be shipped? Does it need to fit into the backseat of a car?
You may be surprised that a custom booth doesn’t need to be expensive. As mentioned before, our experience shows that you can likely meet your needs with a custom booth priced between $50 to $60 per square foot. That’s only slightly more than buying a stock set-up off a standard website; however, the benefit of building something specific to your needs ensures that you will stand apart from those around you and be set up specifically to meet your unique goals. Most distributors, through their build process, will do an excellent job of supplying design feedback and are knowledgeable about what works for the greatest impact in a small display space.
A Note to Trade Show Distributors
The true value of your work is found in what makes you different. Yes, it’s important to have cool stuff for your customers to choose from, but in the end, it’s the experience you bring to the table that can make the biggest difference for first-time buyers.
Partnering with a manufacturer who can support your efforts to provide custom designs should be a critical component of your growth strategy. As important as a distributor is to the end customer, a manufacturing partner who knows how to say “yes!” and can roll up their sleeves is just as important.