How to Budget for a Trade Show

Trade shows and trade fairs are important networking and business opportunities you need to take advantage of as a company. It’s a very important undertaking to balance your workload and to budget appropriately to make the most out of each event.

The trade show display experts at totm exposition share with you some budgeting tips and tricks to help guide you for your next trade show.

Trade show budget template: categorize your expenses

When you are budgeting for a trade show, a good template to use is breaking down your costs into 5 categories. The first category is your base amount because a general rule of thumb for budgets with trade fairs is to multiply your venue cost by 3.

For example, if your venue rental costs $10,000, you should allocate $30,000 overall. With the remaining funds, break this down into 4 other categories which make sense for your business’ structure, size and capacity.

These are five common budget categories for your trade show expenses:

  1. Venue space cost: The amount of allocated funds to rent the space for your booth
  2. Exhibit cost: The amount of money you spend on the design and manufacturing of your custom trade show booth
  3. Services cost: All costs associated with your technical and logistical services rendered
  4. Promotion and marketing: Any costs connected to your own marketing including paid ads, programming or graphic designing
  5. Staffing: The amount you use to employ staff during the event and the time they spend in the booth

Use a pie chart to budget

Once you have your base cost for the venue rental, add the other 4 categories together and place these into a graph or chart. This is a great template method to visualize your budget to break down your expenses.

For example: If your venue costs $10,000, your total budget should be $30,000. You need to break down the extra $20,000 into 4 other categories to account for all the smaller expenses that will be incurred.

  1. Venue space: $10,000
  2. Exhibit cost: $10,000
  3. Services cost: $4,000
  4. Promotion and marketing: $2,500
  5. Staffing: $3,500

A pie chart can look like:


Break down your expenses

With the categories of your expenses, it’s important to break down what each category entails. Some of the smaller expenses range from staffing expenditures to logistical services.

  • Rental costs
  • Marketing
  • Staff
  • Exhibition stands
  • Logistics
  • Show services
  • Food and beverage

Rental costs

When you find the perfect trade show to attend as a vendor, contact the association to learn about the venue’s layout and pricing of each booth. Some areas may have higher costs due to their locations and others may be placed in adjacent corridors or annexes. Pick a location that suits your business needs with optimal foot traffic.


The marketing of your booth is essential. If attendees don’t know where you are, your networking outreach will be hindered. A great way to invest in the best ROI is to market yourself through your own channels. Use social media and place paid ads or use other avenues in your networks like email outreach or offline techniques like postering.

Exhibition stands

With your venue’s location selected, rendering a perfect booth for your business is the next largest expense of a trade show. Customizable booths, portable booths, and dynamic displays are all great designs that will appeal to attendees. Use a turnkey booth designer for the manufacturing and installation of your booth.

Logistics and staffing

With the designing and space allocation of your booth, the technical logistics and scheduling of the event are important to account for. It is necessary to consider the in-house technical skills of your employees and whether you need to outsource this labour. The technical software and hardware you use, including lighting or laptops to display your brand and programming may be rented or purchased.

Show services

Smaller expenses that arise when you vend at a trade show include the costs of photography, security or cleaning. The set up and installation of the booth may cost you some hidden fees, as well as the tear down. If you would like professional photography completed, allocate this in the budget. You can use these moments for future marketing and outreach within your networks.

Food and beverage or product giveaways

Another slice of your budget is to allocate the money used for enticing attendees and participants to your booth. It’s not just about your brand, it’s also about the outreach and gestures of welcoming them to your brand. Having free samples or products to give away is an expense that needs to be considered outside of the mandatory expenses of staff overtures.

Booth designs and visualisation

A major expense to budget for in a trade show is the design and layout of your business’ booth. This is a core expense that requires time to plan, manufacture and install during the trade fair.

Opting for a manufacturer of venue booths who offers a range of different designs tailored to your business in mind is key to funneling your budget. With a turnkey designer of your trade show booth, you can easily manage and facilitate the logistics of your booth in record time while staying within your budget’s criteria.

At totm exposition, we offer three types of booths for your next trade show to fit any budget: custom designed booths, modular trade show booths and portable booths.

Trust the experts at totm exposition for your vendor booth

The layout and design of your next trade show booth is a big undertaking that needs a clear and well-defined budget. There are many moving parts to account for when you want to promote your brand in your industry’s trade fairs.

With your budget in hand, it is easier to delegate your roles and responsibilities to have a successful event.

Contact us for your next trade show’s booth design, manufacturing and installation.