There is a common problem
that is shared by many exhibit managers: While the exhibit return is
either flat-lining or decreasing, costs continue to rise. The past few
have done very little to help this situation which has caused some
companies to reduce their exhibit exposure or pull out of important
exhibitions all together in the hopes of meeting constricting budget
Here are a number of
strategies that may help.
Talk to your
show organizer. Running a show has its
own challenges but all would be for not if exhibitors, who the organizer
depends on, are having difficulty justifying
their participation. I am
not suggesting your conversation with organizers is one where you are
strong-arming them into reducing costs but a collaborative discussion
you tap into their experience to find cost-saving ideas that work
for both of you. Your organizer lives and breathes their exhibitions
daily – who better to consult with?
Talk to your
suppliers. One huge mistake many
exhibit managers make with reduced funds is to drop sections of the
overall budget plan to make up the shortfall. A better
approach is to
examine, line by line, each item in your budget and search for
meaningful savings. To help, your suppliers can be a great resource.
Often they can develop
creative ideas that can help you save money while
maintaining the integrity of your exhibit plan.
metrics for success. Much has been written
about metrics but without some serious thought into what makes a
successful exhibit plan, you are left guessing.
Your metrics give you
benchmarks to determine which exhibitions work better than others and a
method of calculating the effect of changes to your plan.
Talk to your
staff. All too often staff is assigned to
attend an exhibition without being asked for feedback on how and what
you can do to improve the exhibit plan. This
process should begin after
each exhibition and your staff should be included in the post-show
evaluation. This is their formal opportunity to share what they learned.
vantage point they can often spot mistakes quickly and can be
a tremendous source of valuable information to improve the financial
bottom line. One example they might mention
is the travel cost incurred
when staff from distant locations are included in the exhibit plans
where local staff could do the job while saving on travel and
The internet is a vast resource that can introduce many local vendors.
For example if you are offering hospitality then working with a local
supplier may be less expensive that the official suppliers. Other local
businesses may include hotels, restaurants, sign makers, booth builders,
ground transportation providers etc.
flexibility into your exhibit program. Start
with a macro-approach. This includes all the exhibitions planned
throughout the year. Then create the exhibit hardware to
ensure that it
is flexible enough to accommodate various exhibit challenges by
including interchangeable parts and modular sections that can be broken
up and reconfigured for
exhibit size. It’s not always necessary to
have as much exhibit space as possible. The size of the exhibit is in
direct correlation to the projected return. For each show
schedule determine if the amount of space booked is necessary to meet
opportunities with partners. Chances are that
some of the other exhibitors at the show have products and services that
compliment your offerings. They may be
dealers or distributors or
a vertical supplier that connects well with a similar customer or
another company that is local to you who you can share expenses such as
quick review of the show’s web-site will likely help you
spot exhibitors that you can work with. It could be as simple as
cross-promoting each other products. Perhaps a local
supplier will bring
in one of their machines for you to use in your booth that that
works well with your product.
Saving money at a trade
show is rarely as matter of finding one or two big items that can be
eliminated. It’s all about spotting smaller changes in each budget item
that when added p can produce great affordable results.
© by Barry