7 Mistakes that Will Blow your Exhibition Budget

7 Mistakes that Will Blow your Exhibition Budget

A detailed list of seven solutions to common mistakes exhibition organisers make, that result in them blowing right through their budget.

As we all well know, spending money is as easy as pie, but when you have a budget to stick to, then it can suddenly become a nightmare.

Whether it’s because of that ‘must have’ custom stand, luxurious material or those fancy gadgets, spending money inefficiently on the wrong things can eat right through your financial allotment faster than lightening.

The sad truth is that exhibition organisers, more often than not, make expensive misguided decisions which can drastically inflate the costs of their show.

Yet, by simply following some if not all of the actions listed below, you’ll prevent the most unnecessary expenses and get the stand you want at a price you can afford.

1. Have a set in stone stand design

Don’t hand your designers a chisel and allow them to go crazy. Incomplete and/or sketchy design input usually results in multiple costly redesigns – and designers time is your money.

Understand exactly what it is that you want before you meet with your design team. You’ll still be able to make changes along the way, but the fewer alterations you have, the more money you’ll save to spend elsewhere.

One last important point, have internal talks and ensure everyone in the team has signed off on the design. Many great designs often spiral out of control because of something as simple as the CEO not liking that shade of blue.

2. Design around the elements, not the experience

Exhibition organisers often mistake a design brief for a laundry list of ‘required’ elements, such as kiosks, conference rooms and storage areas etc, many times forgetting that they should be focusing on brand experience and not just a collection of furniture.

By focusing solely on the elements, your exhibitions effectiveness suffers and you’ll be left with more ‘stuff’ than you actually need to meet your objectives.

Take the time to go through a tedious process of questioning every potential purchase. Do I really need this? Will this help me achieve my objective?

To illustrate the process, if one of your objectives is to generate visibility and lure people to you stand, what will be more effective, a standard hanging sign which typically costs around £700 or could a targeted promotional campaign be more cost-effective?

Ultimately, the key is to ensure that every stand element is deliberately chosen with a defined purpose.

3. You don’t always need custom

Almost all stand materials come in standard shapes and sizes but if you decide to go for a custom and exclusive stand, you will easily drive up the cost of the component because of the extra production hours required to meet the design criteria.

A curved counter, for example, can easily cost 50 to 100 percent more than a rectangular version with similar footprints.

However, don’t get us wrong, it’s perfectly fine to want a custom piece as long as you can justify the additional cost and prove its value in the long-term.

4. Don’t select materials based solely on aesthetics

Some finishes can really make a statement while others will often go unnoticed. Though we’re not suggesting you ban all non-standard finishes, consider whether it will actually make a difference to the attendee.

Of course, a glossy, metallic finish will give you a luxurious and polished feel to your stand, but it will also give you a not-so-nice sting to your wallet.

Choose the best option for your budget and not just for your eyes. Particularly since most special finishes require special handling and often scratch easily – neither of which is free to deal with.

Consult with your design team as well as your internal team and make sure that each choice is the best option to meet your objectives – and that if you have a preferred look which is slightly more expensive, always be absolutely certain that it’s worth the additional cost.

5. Factor smaller additional costs – shipping, drayage and labour charges.

An extremely common mistake many exhibition organisers make when buying or building a new stand is to focus solely on the design and build costs, forgetting that, the size, weight, crating and labour requirements of that structure will significantly affect their wallets for years to come.

The last thing you want is to create a beautiful on-budget stand with extortionate ancillary costs.

To avoid this, simply ask your designers the following questions at various stages in the process:

  • How much does this component weigh?
  • What type and size of crate or shipping container (if any) does it need?
  • How many people and hours will it take to set it up?
  • Is there a more economical option that will deliver the same effect?

When it comes to labour cost estimates, determine not only how long it will take to setup and dismantle, but, also how complex the operation will be. The more complex the setup the more labour costs you’ll likely incur over time.

6. Don’t go crazy over technology

A surefire way to blow your budget is by lavishing your stand with high-tech gadgets. It’s probably a worthy endeavour for those trying to portray a cutting-edge, high-tech image but don’t feel you have to incorporate gadgets just because everybody else is.

Technology can be costly and requires a lot of commitment to safely get it to the show, and have it consistently working correctly, which will require, at a bare minimum, one staffer with the knowledge and skill to conduct the proper handling and installation.

If being cutting-edge isn’t relevant to your brand, too much technology can become a gimmick rather than add real value to your stand. Plus, if you’re staff don’t understand or know how to operate your high tech gadgets, you’ll be creating a negative brand impression.

Ultimately, is all this technology actually serving a purpose? Is it worth the investment? Will it enhance the user experience and help you achieve a marketing objective? If yes then go for it, but if you’re a little unsure then it’s worth a reevaluation of the cost vs return.

7. Remember that exhibition designers are not omnipotent

Exhibition designers are experts in, well, exhibition design. And whilst they will have some basic understanding of each unit’s elements (including lighting, monitors and carpet inlays) you can’t expect them to also be the masters of electronics, plumbing and multimedia etc.

Arm yourself with specialised knowledge of high-tech, multimedia, and lighting components or invest in an expert in the field. Yes, that will come at an additional cost but ultimately, by assuming designers know everything about everything, you’ll be overlooking critical additional requirements which ultimately will create costly delays.

In conclusion…

To avoid slashing through you budget all you need is some self-discipline and to not let your want for the best-looking stand break your bank.

Consider creating a spreadsheet to track all of your expenditures – this simple idea is something most exhibitors use as a way of managing their expenditures.

Just remember that aesthetics aren’t always the most important element when it comes to achieving your objectives, your time and money could be better spent elsewhere to create a more pleasant experience for you attendees. 

As long as your stay organised, be sure of the decisions you make and consider all of the costs before finalising your purchases you should be well on your way to making great savings.

After all the fuss and fight, “What Do You Do After the Exhibition Event is Over?” Find out by clicking here.


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