Expensive Trade Shows: Worth it?

You’ve finally found the perfect trade show for your company: it checks all the boxes and you couldn’t be more thrilled. The right audience demographic, perfect size, great space choices – you’re ready to sign on the dotted line! But once you start working on a budget, you may find yourself surprised at how quickly all those costs add up. More often than not, you may start to second-guess yourself and whether attending this trade show is worth it. In some cases, it is! 

Each situation and company is different, but it’s critical to take a step back and look at the facts to determine if an expensive trade show is worth it. For some trade shows, it may be worth taking on the high cost if there is a strong likelihood for a lot of leads or exposure for your brand. Or there may be a way to reduce the budgeted amount, such as sending less staff or reducing activation costs.

First, take a look at your planned budget – did you account for all the aspects of event activation from booth design to storing the booth, freight and much more? Make sure you have budgeted for every nitty gritty detail, line by line, so you can take a critical look and see if you can cut costs anywhere. You may be able to save by having a smaller booth, leasing an event marketing display instead of buying or renting one or by partnering with an event marketing agency to draw from their cost savings and event negotiation expertise.

The additional costs pushing your budget over may be based on the location of the event itself. A hotel room in New York City is probably a lot more expensive than one in Des Moines! Is it worth it? Look at all your flight and accommodation options. Maybe the entire team doesn’t need to attend, but just your top salespeople. Or perhaps your event marketing agency can recommend brand ambassadors that can work your booth on behalf of your company, eliminating some travel costs.

Next, take a look at the trade show itself. Triple check to ensure that the event checks all the boxes. Take into account:

  • Event attendee demographics
  • Audience size
  • Addressable market – will your booth be right in the center, with every attendee walking by or is it in the back corner?
  • Additional media coverage and exposure for your brand

Once you have all the information at your fingertips, it should be easy to make a decision. If your budgets allow, sometimes it’s worth spending more on attending a trade show if you believe it will lead to:

  • Additional leads that you would not be able to obtain otherwise
  • Additional sales that you would not be able to obtain otherwise
  • Exposure for your brand
  • Media coverage
  • An opportunity to connect with desired businesses/people

No two situations are the same, but when armed with all the right data, taking a risk on an expensive trade show can have huge rewards!

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