Why Does a Trade Show Booth Cost More Than a House?


“If I bought the materials at Home Depot, I could build this display case myself for a quarter of the price on this estimate,” says your manager.

It’s not unusual for executives to be confused about your trade show booth cost. When the proposal comes from your exhibit house, the price can outpace the average home. The best way to discuss this with your money managers is to point out that this “home” is going to move.

Say you’ve bought a house. Now imagine that you will immediately disassemble, crate, and ship this house across the country to a city with its own zoning regulations. Once arrived, it will be unloaded by a union labor team. They will store the pieces, along with the homes of 500 other companies, in a warehouse until show day.

On show day, your home will be transported, crate by crate, to the show floor. Then it will be uncrated and reassembled, followed by three days of intense foot traffic. Then you’ll break the house down so it can be shipped to another show floor in a different city or back to the build-site for repairs.

As you can see, there is more to this than four walls and some fixtures. You need to build an exhibit that can withstand arduous, constant travel, assembly, exhibition, and a whole lot of visitors.

It’s a Matter of Metaphor

Your booth is not a house or even really a booth — it’s a traveling show.

Think about all the materials involved in putting on this show: AV rental, daily cleaning, drayage, electrical labor, food and drink, graphics production, installation and dismantle, internet, project management, the show supervisor, software support, receive and inventory, and finally, warehouse handling.

Live marketing entails a complex clockwork of components. Ultimately, you’re creating the synchronized movement of interlocking elements, all designed to create a magical moment for visitors as the curtain draws back and they step into your brand’s story.

Trade Show Booth Cost

From the showrunner who accepts your company’s registration to the people who vacuum the floor, a trade show is a logistical masterclass in artistic expression.

“To create one’s own world takes courage,” said Georgia O’Keeffe. And in the case of exhibit design, it also takes a budget.

Is there a disconnect between your trade show dreams and your budgetary reality? This guide is for you

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