Creating the perfect trade show that dazzles and impresses can be difficult, and pairing your vision with a budget you can afford can be even more so. In the previous article, we touched upon the budgeting basics to help build a great trade show. This time we’re going to look into surprise costs, entertainment, and a key way to help pay for big chunks of your trade show.
What is the biggest surprise cost for people when choosing a venue? Carpeting.
You read that right: carpeting
Associations don’t always factor in the carpeting costs for uncarpeted venues. They can really get themselves in a bind,”says Mike Bojesen, President of SourceOne Events. “Changing venues to a ballroom that may not have carpeting will change costs, and then those costs will need to be distributed somewhere.
If you choose a venue, build a budget around that venue, and then find out much later that venue doesn’t have what you expect, then your budget may fall drastically out of line. Should you find that incredible venue, but it’s missing carpeting, it is still possible to get the venue you desire and spread the cost around some.
One option to get around the carpeting cost is to build it into the booth pricing. For example, exhibitors may pay for the carpeting needed to line their booths while the association pays for the carpeting in the aisle. Exhibitors are generally accustomed to having carpeting in their booths, and may be able to share the burden of carpeting that elite venue.
Plan a Site Visit
In order to avoid any other surprises related to the venue or the experience, the best advice is to perform a site visit.
Be sure to budget airfare, lodging, and rental cars for a site visit. It’s so important to get a feel for the event,”advises Bojesen. “Walk the path the attendees will walk. Get a feel for distance from the hotel room to the actual site. How far do they have to walk? What’s the actual path? Carpet or uncarpeted? What’s the loading dock situation?
When it comes to successfully budgeting for an event, the less surprises the better, and the best way to really get a feel for your future event is to practice it. See it with your own eyes.Make sure that you’re spending your money in the right places.
Entertain the Masses
One of the most strategic categories to ensure your success lies in the entertainment portion of the budget. To further this point, the opening session party may be the make or break component of your event. The party that kicks off your event will typically be held in the foyer or the ballroom, and it’s that first opportunity for people to shake hands, drink, and talk.
Getting people to talk with each other is the whole point of trade shows, but getting them to actually do so has its challenges. Sometimes people are only able to hit it off after a little social lubrication, so make sure your booze budget is on point.
Even better, see if someone else is willing to pay for it.
Sponsorships & Branding
Sponsor dollars are huge,”says Bojesen. “For example, breakfast today may be sponsored by ABC company. ABC company may pay $20 thousand and then breakfast is covered. All the signs, napkins have the company’s logo. These sponsorships may really come into play to help cover costs.
The relationship between sponsor and trade show has so many mutual benefits. The sponsor gets lots of extra exposure, and the better the time everyone has at the event, the better the branding opportunity. The associations win out by being able to write off big chunks of money for various events that happen over the course of the trade show, and every little bit helps.
Attracting sponsor dollars will elevate your ability to create dynamic and unforgettable impressions, and it’s all about branding.
One of my clients really understands sponsorships and the idea of branding,”explains Bojesen. “He likes to put up cool structures with his association name, and the sponsor names listed below, and their names light up…floor decals, directional signs. He’s got the name of the association all over the place.
Undoubtedly, adding more graphics adds to the overall cost of the show. The key here is being able to see this as a branding opportunity for the association and the companies who want to market themselves to every attendee and exhibitor.
These are the WOW factors of any event.
Don’t Forget the Details
Big, elaborate parties offsite for their people with lights all over the place, and the band may throw the association name out multiple times,”says Bojesen. “Some big, glitzy events will have huge screens up scrolling with the sponsor’s name. Smaller shows don’t have this.
Those parties may be the final, flourishing accent on an unforgettable trade show that keeps people in the industry talking for months. Still, there are smaller and less expensive ways to leave a strong impression, like gift baskets or turn down gifts.
You’re going to need to work with the hotel, and they may charge a certain amount of money,”explains Bojesen. “They have their associates go to every single room and put these gifts in there for the attendees and exhibitors. Your brand and logo will be on each and every one.
Another key impression may be stamping your impression on their keys. The cards that you get to open up your room may have your brand or the name of the conference on it, and that can be paid for by one of the sponsors of the event.
It’s a smart idea, and there’s not a lot to it,”says Bojesen. “You get your logo to the hotel, and they can take care of it, but you have to be on top of it.
Little things like that truly can go a long way, and they’re great opportunities to get a name and a logo into people’s minds. Much like the budget itself, the devil is in the details, so be sure to plan ahead. Recognize the places where your budget may swell, and be sure to secure those sponsor dollars to help cover entertainment costs.