Calculate Your Space Requirements before you Develop your Budget
The challenge with a trade show budget is that it’s hard to know where to start.
Industry experts suggest you base your total show budget on three times the cost of the exhibit space. If your exhibit space cost $10,000, your total show budget should be $30,000. If you do not know the costs, you can base your assumption on square footage and follow the same calculations as above. The average square foot cost for exhibits is $20.00. Therefore for a200 square foot (18.5 square meters) booth, your costs should be $20.00 × 200 × 3 or $12,000.00.
Begin your calculations with the amount of space you need.. Once this is determined, applying a dollar amount to your exhibition budget becomes a lot more realistic.
It is crucial to stay focused. If you aim to reach 100 percent of the visitors (which exhibitors should only rarely do), then you are spreading your resources very thin. As a result, you will likely neglect some wonderful opportunities. For example, let’s say the show has a projected audience of 20,000 people. After talking to show management or reviewing the audited information from previous shows, you determine that 8 percent of this audience fit your profile, leaving you with 1,600 visitors.
Will all of these 1,600 people stop by your booth? Likely not. Every show is different. The number of visitors who actually stop at each exhibit varies. The Audience Interest Factor (AIF) calculates the number of highly interested people. If you don’t know your AIF, the rule of thumb is 16 percent. If you keep track of your show results, then over time you will learn your specific AIF. For now, use the 16 percent rule of thumb. Your potential number of visitors now is 16% of 1,600 or 256 potential high-value visitors . Next look at how long the show runs, and how long it will take you to accomplish your goal with each visitor.
You should measure the length of the show in terms of active show hours rather than total hours. Every show will produce a different flow of traffic. Often there are distractions where all delegates are drawn off the show floor to attend education sessions, hear a keynote speaker, or watch a floor show. At some shows, more people arrive in the late afternoon than early morning. There are many variables and it is important to be aware of these. For our purposes, let’s say that the show is open for eight hours each day for three days, which means there will be twenty-four show hours. You have determined that the last two hours of each day and one hour during lunch are slow, so your calculations of active hours will be:
24 show hours – 9 (3 slow hours × 3 days) = 13 active show hours
Now divide the number of visitors by the number of active hours:
256 ÷ 13 = 19.6 (rounded off to 20) visitors per hour
The next step is to calculate the human element. How long will your staff need with each visitor in order to accomplish their goal? Let’s assume it is ten minutes. This is a rough estimate since each person they meet will not necessarily fit your profile. However, for the purpose of this exercise, let’s set a target for each booth person to talk to six people per hour. If we have the potential of twenty visitors per hour, then in our example we need 3.3 (rounded to four) booth people.
Another rule of thumb is that each booth person needs 50 square feet (4.5 square meters) of unoccupied space to work in. This means that in a 10-foot by 10-foot (3-meter by 3-meter) booth, two people can carry on two conversations simultaneously with two visitors. The key word here is “unoccupied.” You need to include your product, displays, demonstrations, furniture, and so on. In our example, we would need 200 square feet (18 square meters) of space for four booth people plus 100 square feet (9 square meters) for product display. Therefore your total exhibit space is now 300 square feet (28 square meters.)
Booth Space Calculation
Total number of potential visitors 20,000
Percentage that represents target audience 8%
Total number of targeted visitors 1,600
Net potential booth visitors 256 (a)
Number of show hours 24
less inactive hours 9
Active show hours 13 (b)
Number of visitors per hour (a ÷ b) (19.6 rounded to 20) 20 (c)
Number of minutes spent with each visitor – 10 or 6 per hour 6 (d)
Number of booth staff (c ÷ d) (3.3 rounded to 40) 4 (e)
Amount of booth space (f × 50 square feet + amount
of space for hardware, furniture,
products, etc.) _____300_______
You have now calculated the realistic amount of space you need to determine your entire show budget.