Trade show exhibitors are always looking for ways to cut costs, but some money saving ideas can end up having an adverse impact on your overall trade show performance. You might think booking a room at a budget hotel a few miles from the convention center is a smart, money-saving move. However, while your staff is taxiing back and forth, your competition is grabbing breakfast with a potential customer at the headquarter hotel. The following are seven smart ways you can save money on your next trade show without sacrificing your effectiveness.
Most trade shows offer discounts on show services such as carpet, electric, internet connections, and rental furniture when you order those services early. Costs for those services often increase substantially on-site. Keeping track of those deadlines can save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars.
If you need an internet connection in your booth, bring your own MiFi or mobile Wi-Fi hotspot. Ordering an internet connection from the show can cost thousands of dollars. DO NOT plan on saving money by using the free wireless network at the show. Not only are those networks unreliable, but they are a security risk as well.
Trade shows often charge exhibitors by the amp or by wattage when it comes to electricity. The less electricity you use, the less you have to pay. One way to cut or even completely eliminate electric costs is to use battery powered lighting to make your graphics pop and to direct attention to your products. If your primary need for electricity is to power your lights and charge your cell phones, tablets and laptops, our Mobile Power Center (which comes standard with all of our Light Kits) can also act as a universal charging station, capable of charging virtually any small electronic device that operates between 5 to 19 volts. As a result, by using a battery powered lighting solution from Silicon Lightworks, you can completely eliminate electric fees from your show budget. And at close to $150 per show on average for electric power, the savings can add up fast!
Many shows give you the option to ship your booth early to an off-site storage facility. Not only does that option save you money, but also shipments coming out of that storage facility arrive on the show floor first, giving you more time for set-up. You can also cut drayage costs (the fee for getting your boxes from the loading dock to your booth space) by combining everything on one pallet. Instead of shipping your boxes and cartons individually and paying drayage fees on each one, you are only paying for one pallet and that can end up saving you hundreds of dollars or more.
Shipping monitors to the show can be expensive, not to mention risky. Many savvy exhibitors buy their monitors and flat screens at big box stores in the town they are exhibiting in to save on shipping fees. When it is time to pack up and head home, they donate those same monitors to a local charity giving their company a tax write off.
One easy way to cut down on shipping costs is to eliminate much of what you need to ship to the show. For example, a tent manufacturer exhibiting at an outdoor show could tap into other exhibitors for accessories such as sleeping bags, lanterns, chairs, etc. to make their look complete.
Last minute items such as tape, extension cords, batteries, and even aspirin can eat up your budget if you have to buy them at the convention center or the hotel. Pack everything and anything you can imagine needing in a gang box and ship it with everything else. You’ll also save time running around trying to procure that missing item at the show.
What tricks do you have for saving money when exhibiting at trade shows? Please share your successes with us, and let us know if you learned the penny wise and pound foolish lesson the hard way.