Trade Show Tactics: Tips On How to Save On Your Next Show

Posted December 17, 2019 by Alison Conklin

Team Brightly sat down last week to close out a successful 2019 and prepare to go full steam ahead into 2020. A majority of our calendar is filled with travel, from summits to competitions to trade shows. To help us start 2020 on the right foot, we start planning.

Most of our clients attend trade shows across the country, from Natural Products Expo to Craft Brewers Conference to Sweets & Snacks Expo. So, where do we start? We know it is extremely important to establish our goals, make a plan of attack and, most importantly, create a budget that matches. While each trade show is a beast of its own, there are still some core planning strategies to help you save as much as you can along the way.  

1.     If you know the dates, don’t hesitate

Trade show dates are set in stone. After you figure out who on your team is traveling when, you can start looking at flights. Most sources will fluctuate by a few weeks, but it looks like the sweet spot for buying your tickets is three months prior to your trip. gives a breakdown of costs based on when you book your next flight.

2.     Use your rewards memberships for what they are worth

If your company does not require you to stay at a particular chain of hotels, or better yet they do, make sure you have rewards memberships to rack up points. For every stay, you can redeem points to help you toward future stays — whether you have to redeem those for future work trips or your own personal stay! This also goes for flights.

3.     Evaluate renting versus owning

Renting from trade shows can make you start to question your career path — convention centers and other trade show hosts can bleed you for all your company is worth when picking rental equipment (we have had to pay $45 FOR A PAPER TRASH CAN!) If you have an established brand and go to multiple trade shows a year, it is worth considering buying and shipping some of your own equipment versus renting the same items every show.

BRIGHTLY TIP: If you already have a booth, consider purchasing your own flooring. Most trade shows will require carpet or some sort of floor covering that they can charge by the square foot. Even renting flooring for a 10×10” booth can add up quickly. You will be paying more for shipping your booth, but you can know your flooring is a one-time fee you won’t have to budget into each trade show.

4.     Discount deadlines are no joke

If you do have to rent, pay attention to discount deadlines. From flooring to trash cans to lead retrievals, you can save quite a bit (and we mean hundreds of dollars) by taking advantage of the trade show’s discounts. Make your plan in advance for what you own versus what you will need to rent and place your order in advance.

5.     Get your shipments together

Again, if you plan in advance, this is a no brainer. If you know you will need print collateral, samples, swag, etc., don’t ship as you go, plan to ship them all together. Some trade shows will waive fees if you stay under a number of boxes under a certain weight (we have had shows that would waive two boxes under 100 lbs. each). If you keep sending multiple boxes, trade shows can charge you for storage, material handling, delivering boxes to your booth, etc. This also can eliminate losing boxes or forgetting how many you sent in the first place. Get your best Tetris-playing employee out and have them help you pack like a champ to save.

If you want to put your best foot forward at a trade show, give Brightly Creative a call. From organizing logistics to manning your booth, we know the ins and outs to give you the best ROI at your next trade show.

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