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Clock at Grand Central Terminal with USA flag                                                                

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Tips for the First Time Trade Show Exhibitor

     If you have been contemplainting whether to exhibit at a Trade Show, it is important to note that it can be a wise use of your marketing dollars.  You also have to recognize what your goals are. My goal is to cover all costs of exhibiting - all vendor fees, travel expenses, food and beverage, lodging, and the rest within the first six weeks following the show. Other exhibitors quantify the number of new customers they want to sign at the show; and others just want to get their company name out there with attendees.

     Trade shows provide you with the opportunity to have valuable face time with your target audience in a different setting from you calling on prospective clients at their place of business. You can meet more members of your target audience at trade shows in a short period of time than if you were to visit each one individually.

     The first tip is to research local or regional shows rather than target a national trade show for your first show.  The regional show will, for the most part, have a lower exhibiting fee, have lower travel costs, be easier to get to, have a higher concentration of your target market in the immediate area, and most likely no additional exhibiting company fees like carpeting, tables, and the rest.  Local and regional shows will include tables and signage with the booth space cost whereas national shows you are only getting the space and you have to pay for all extras.  You can also gain valuable experience on what works and what doesn't at the local or regional show instead of the lessons being more expensive by kicking off at a national show.

     Typically a local or regional show will cost a fraction of what a national trade show costs. Depending on the industry, the regional show can cost 20-30% of what the national trade show will run.  That regional show is typically held in a venue like a hotel ballroom where all costs like signage, table, table drape, chairs, wastebasket is included in the exhibitor fee.

     National shows are usually held in a convention hall where none of the previously listed items are included and carpeting would be required -- another cost.  Local and regional shows will have reasonable charges for elecgtricity, sometimes free, but I've seen charges anywhere from $25.00-$85.00 and there is no additional charge for electrical set up like the national companies that might charge $225.00 per day for electricity.  Internet is usually a service included in local and regional shows, but national shows will charge a fee for this as well.  I find it ironic that as wifi becomes more prevalent in our society, the more scarce of a commodity is and thus a higher fee charged for internet in convention halls.  continued