We like these recommendations from exhibitors on fine tuning your trade show budget:
Be careful of the show site items you order in advance. Instead of ordering a wastebasket for $15.00 or more, use an empty box under the draped table for a free waste receptacle.
Don't order chairs...they are expensive and your sales people appear more approachable when standing.
Decrease the amount of marketing materials that you take with you to the show. Instead make a plan to send the materials to qualified leads after the show. This not only saves money on marketing materials wasted on non-qualified leads, but saves money on shipping as well. It also secures the lead for addition to your database and enables future contact.
Instead of having giveaways for all attendees, reserve higher-end giveaways for those prospects or clients that we have a good conversation with. This helps reduce the cost of wasted promo items. Organize your shipping. When attending multiple shows per year ship from show-to-show and reduce the cost of shipping booth materials back to your home office before sending to the next show. Most shows offer advanced storage of materials for up to a month prior to the show.
Resist "add-ons" and have one decision maker that is responsible for the budget. If additional items are requested make it go through the responsible decision maker and be noted that it is not in the budget.
We have previously recommended setting up your own exhibit but when this is not possible have a staff member attend installation of your booth to monitor the actual labor hours and avoid paying for "supervised" set up and dismantle. If set up takes place on Sunday, request to do some of the set up on Saturday to reduce the amount of double time. Most of the time this option is available.