Budgeting for an exhibition isn’t always easy.  As well as the initial stand space costs there are many more additional costs to consider.  We often get asked how to plan for an exhibition event, so we have put together a few tips.

Careful and calculated budget planning is an absolute must for your next exhibition or event, no matter how big or small!

Getting your budget right is the difference between a stress-free event and one that is followed by unexpected costs.

First, the planning:

1) Identify all areas of expenditure

Calculator on a desk

Events are about much more than venue hire and having it all identified and categorised is an ideal way to clear your head, get organised and calculate as accurate a projected expense as possible.

Create a budget checklist – here are a few of the main factors in event costing for you to include:

  • Stand space and exhibition stand cost.  Exhibition stand design cost is usually free
  • Set up and breakdown
  • Show services, electrics and flooring
  • Payments to speakers, entertainment and other 3rd parties
  • Printing costs for marketing material
  • Additional equipment such as AV or stand attractions
  • Decorative and theming elements
  • Promotional and marketing costs
  • Travel, hotel and catering costs


2) Set a realistic total budget and ROI measurement

After noting down all possible areas of expenditure, you’ll end up with your estimated total budget. Then look at what you hope to achieve from the event and how this will be measured. For exhibitions, put measures and targets in place so you can evaluate the return on investment (ROI). For ticketed and profit-orientated events carefully consider the entry price tag to ensure maximum attendance and minimise losses; too high a ticket price risks scaring away potential attendees by reaching too high.

3) Put aside a contingency budget

Sometimes, no matter how hard and how accurately you budget, something will happen to incur additional costs that you couldn’t originally account for. From cancellation fees to broken equipment and extra transportation. Typically allow an extra 10 to 15% of the total budget for contingency funding.

4) Download some helpful apps

Whether at your desk or on the go, chances are you’ll need to keep track of your event plans and budget, which is where mobile apps come in. You might want to carry out some preliminary tests on a few different ones before you make your final choice.

Then comes the saving:

Managing the funds for an event doesn’t stop at the initial budgeting; there are plenty of savings to be made during its lead up as well.

Avoid spur of the moment purchases

Pre-book services to get the best deals – booking last minute can incur higher costs.  When you’re caught up in the excitement of finally making all the purchases for your event, it can be easier than you think to see something that you ‘just have to have’. Extra decorations, bits of stationery and even food are all additional elements that can stack up and leave your budget looking a little scarier by the end of it.

Order 10% less food than you originally wanted

Organising the catering for an event can end up like organising the food for Christmas – a lot of event planners order far too much. You never know who might not show up or who just isn’t that hungry on the day, so ordering less food than you’d originally planned for helps to reduce not only wastage and leftovers but the initial cost of ordering too much.

Record all expenses

Keeping a close eye on every expense – no matter how big or small it may seem – throughout the whole lead up to your event ensures that you’re constantly in the loop, becoming immediately aware of any drastic changes to your budget or anomalous expenditures sooner rather than later. Being on the ball and nipping any unexpected costs in the bud as soon as they occur should be one of every event planner’s priorities.

Monitor those in charge of spending

This might seem like an extreme move, but the truth is you never know what your employees could do, whether unintentionally or on a whim. You’d be surprised where your money could go if you don’t keep an eye on who’s spending it, so the best practice is to set targets for when each payment should be made, always request receipts and invoices and check whether the correct amount has been paid out on its designated date. Trusting expenditure solely to an employee might be easier, but make sure they regularly report their progress back to you. Just imagine arriving at your venue to find they’ve hundreds of balloons and not an ounce of food!

So, with all these things in mind, it’s really important to plan and budget accurately for all your events. The only true measure of any event is your return on investment, so with accurate budgeting, you can keep focused on what you want to achieve and if you have kept to your budget you are more likely to achieve your ROI goals.