How much does an exhibition stand cost?
Posted by Tom Oakes
Isn’t this the question we all want the answer to? How much does an exhibition stand cost? The truth is neither this blog, nor any other will be able to answer this for you accurately. The cost of exhibiting varies from show to show and is completely dependent on the type, design and style of stand you want. What we can do however is look at which areas of exhibiting you should be investing in and what it is you will be paying for.
First things, first… Where to start
You have done your research and decided on your exhibition strategy right? So you already know what would constitute success at your next show and what the potential return on investment you hope to make. It is vital, VITAL prior to embarking on a marketing strategy involving exhibitions and trade shows that you know where you want to exhibit and why, who are you looking to attract? Are you looking to sell product or network? Are you planning on exhibiting at multiple shows or just hit one show big! Once you have all that down where do the costs start? First of all you have to book stand space. The cost of stand space varies depending on the show but you should be looking to pay between £300 – 500 per sqm for a space only stand. This effectively buys you an empty space for you to fill as you like (barring any show regulations). Make sure you book early for prime locations.
If a top quality bespoke designed stand is a little out of reach for your first show then a shell scheme booth may be better suited to you. These will usually cost you around £250 per sq. metre plus supplementary costs per electric sockets and lights if required. You will be provided a pre-built stand booth featuring back/side walls and fascia for you to display products and graphics on. This is a much much cheaper option than a bespoke exhibition stand however, standing out from your competitors becomes much much more difficult.
Design costs – Do we have to?
Yes. The one absolute essential thing you must invest in to be successful at your next show is design. You cannot do this yourself, you cannot approach any joinery or construction firm and produce a sketch and expect results. Design is far more than simply producing the most original and aesthetically pleasing looking stand. A great design can increase your footfall, it can help you attract the right delegates and most importantly set you apart from your competitors. Your stand needs to function and not simply look great. Trust the experts, do your research, put in the work that is required on your design brief and let a designer do what he does best, create for you an excellent stand design.
To buy or not to buy
Ok, so you have booked your stand space and approached a stand designer. Now let’s deal with the elephant in the room. Buying a bespoke stand isn’t like buying a washing machine or a fridge. You don’t simply hand over money and walk away with a product to use at your leisure. Buying a stand is much more like buying a car on hire purchase. When you approach a designer or agency you are asking them to provide you a design for a stand and then provide their expert services to deliver that stand to the show of your choice on time and on point. Once the show is finished that stand needs to be removed from the show usually under restrictive time frames, often in a matter of hours. We in the industry will always struggle to convey to a potential client who has not exhibited before that the stand although technically belonging to them, holds very little value without the expertise to remove, store and re-furb the stand for a later show. So, you hire the stand with the option to purchase however, once purchased you would need to invest in storing and re-building that stand which means very often there is very little point in doing so.
Doesn’t sound too great does it? Well, many end to end exhibition contractors offer storage and refurbishment as part of their quote so, if you are planning on exhibiting at multiple shows then planning ahead and making decisions early is always beneficial as your design and budget can better suit a multi-show strategy.
So what is it going to cost me?
At this point it is not a question of how much a bespoke exhibition stand costs it a question of how much you want to spend. The best way of thinking about buying a stand is to think of it like having a house built. You would not commission an architect without a clear idea of what you would like to spend. Put simply, you can’t afford a mansion on a caravan budget. As a rough guide, for a bespoke built stand on a space of 15-20 sqm you should be thinking of spending anything between £10’000 – £25’000. Anything less than this would mean you should look for other cheaper options to create your space. Anything more than this and it’s safe to assume that you have experience in exhibiting and probably aren’t reading this blog. For lower budgets pre designed roller banners and modular components exist to buy ‘off the shelf’ and are maybe more suited to your budget.
Don’t be afraid to discuss your budget with your designer. The worst thing you can do is tell a designer that your budget is open ended in the hope that you get something that looks great that you can afford. Trust their expertise, if you have £10’000 to spend then tell them so they can advise on the best way to spend it, just because your budget isn’t huge doesn’t mean, if you get the right designer, that you can’t maximise the impact you have at your next show.
I love that design… Now what?
You have been presented with a design that you love based on the concise exhibition stand design brief that you wrote with help from our eBook (How to write a successful exhibition stand design brief – which you can download here). Your design meets all your aesthetic expectations but more importantly functions in a way that will help you to meet your targets for the show (footfall, product selling, networking etc.)
At this stage you should expect a full breakdown of costs and a detailed quote explaining exactly where your money will be spent. Quotes from various companies will vary but remember, there will always be a mark up for design and services on any quote you receive. You aren’t just purchasing the individual stand components, you are purchasing the expertise required to project manage and deliver the stand. The exhibition industry is unlike any other construction industry in that deadlines HAVE to be met. A stand can not be built 3 days after a show finishes, it can’t be left in a hall when everyone’s gone home. It is essential that you research your contractors, look for reviews from previous clients and research a contractor’s portfolio thoroughly. Using a good design and build exhibition contractor is essential to the success for your show, don’t try doing it yourself to save money. If you’re focussing on getting your stand built and delivered you are not concentrating on nailing your targets and selling.
One thing to note on any quote you receive is which elements of the stand are bespoke and what is being hired. Usually all your stand furniture will be hired, stock walls and storage may also be hired. The bespoke elements of your stand (reception desks, canopies, display units etc) is where your money is being spent and it’s important to know what is being built new and what is being hired to help you manage your costs.
So what else is there?
This list is by no means exhaustive but there are lots of additional costs to consider once you have approved a design and quote from your contractor.
- Electrics – Although lights will often form part of your design, a cost for an electric feed to your stand will be charged by the show organisers
- Water and waste – Similar to the electrics, if required water and waste will be charged for by the organiser
- Literature – The production of literature for the stand will not be included in your stand design quote.
- Hospitality – Do you want to provide visitors to your stand with food and drinks? Your design can accommodate this but the cost for doing so will be additional and often times will have to be sourced by you.
- Graphics and art work – Most good end to end exhibition contractors will produce and apply all the graphics for you stand however, make sure this is included in your quote. If you don’t have digital art work suitable enough to turn in to graphics then creating these could be an additional cost.
- Attractions – Any additional attractions you would like on your stand (A host, Fish tank, magician etc.) will usually be sourced and paid for in addition to your stand.
- Marketing – Additional marketing at the show in order to attract visitors to your stand can often times be costly but effective. Contact the show organisers to find out what marketing packages are on offer and take advantage.
- WIFI – Creating a WIFI hotspot for visitors is a great way to attract people to your stand but remember… Its an additional cost.
So who do I choose to design and build my stand?
There are many options to choose when considering who to use to design and build your stand. The most cost effective solution is to use an end to end exhibition service. Companies offering this will design, build, install, remove and store your stand as well as providing additional project management and graphic production services. You could use a design agency who will design your stand for you and then use an external contractor to build it. This has its advantages as they may have access to a broader range of designers but will ultimately cost you more and give you less control over who you use to make and install the stand.
There is no hard and fast answer to what the cost of exhibiting will be however, the potential benefits are almost endless. Very few opportunities give you greater direct access to your market and potential clients. Make sure you research your show properly, put in the ground work on your design brief and be realistic with your budget. Once you have found a contractor that you like work with them, let them know what you want to spend and how you want to spend it. They are there to help you achieve your goals and spend what money you have wisely. There is often a reluctance to talk budgets with clients thinking if they say £20’000 then a contractor they will spend £20’000, This may very well be the case but in that instance you will get a £20’000 stand. When it comes to buying a stand you really do get what you pay for.