​Budgeting for a Trade Show Exhibit: Overall & Display Costs

​Budgeting for a Trade Show Exhibit: Overall & Display Costs

Feb 20th 2024

Trade shows can be an excellent marketing tool for pretty much any business—whether you’re a fledgling tech company looking to break through in the industry or a well-known brand unveiling your latest and greatest product, you can get so much out of the trade show experience, from sales, to connections, to industry exposure.

But there’s one huge difference between exhibiting as a fledgling company and as a major player in your industry: your budget. Especially if you’re tight on funds, the whole process can feel daunting at first: how much should you spend? How much do you have to spend?

To provide some answers to those questions, let’s take a look at the options available to you and the standards you might want to reach, that way, it’ll be that much easier for you to reach your trade show goals.

  • The Trade Show Budget Breakdown
  • Affordable Displays
  • Mid Range Displays
  • High End Displays
  • Frequently Asked Questions

Your Overall Trade Show Budget

Time to rip off the band-aid: exhibiting at a trade show can cost anywhere from $5k (at the absolute lowest) to $100k and up (way up for the biggest booths at the biggest shows).

Of course, you may be able to exhibit at regional shows that cost less than a major show in a big city might, but even then, the starting cost will likely be at least $5k.

Whether you’re exhibiting with a tighter budget or have a lot of extra cash to play with, there will always be 3 major costs to consider, with each of them taking up roughly 30% of most exhibitors’ overall budget—each could cost you anywhere from a few hundred dollars to upwards of $30,000, depending on the show, your goals, and what funds you have available.


Your registration costs are set by the trade show’s hosts, so there’s not a whole lot of wiggle room here—outside of picking your booth space, that is.

Booth locations vary in cost based on three things: the quality of the show itself, the size of the booth space, and the booth space location.

At smaller shows, you may be able to get away with registering for a 10’x10’ booth space at a decent location for a few thousand dollars, but at high-profile shows, even the smallest booths can have prices closer to $300 per square foot.

There are lots of factors that go into determining whether a booth space is a good or bad investment for you, but on top of those, always register as early as you can to see if you can get an early-bird discount!

Displays & Day-Of Services

Your actual display (and everything that goes into it, including associated marketing collateral, potential graphic design services, electric & cleaning fees from the venue) should accommodate for around 30% of your trade show budget, just like your registration and transport costs.

Of course, there’s lots of wiggle room in terms of display booth costs, and we’ll walk you through the prices and features of various displays later on in this article, but these can go for as little as $100 and as much as 100k and up—it all depends on what you’re looking for.

Transportation & Miscellaneous

Travel, lodging, and shipping costs are the last key factor for any exhibitor and are probably the most variable since there are so many ways to shave off extra expenses. Still, this will often account for the last 30% or so of a trade show exhibiting budget.

If you’re trying to cut costs in this area, you can always choose to stay at cheaper hotels, ship your display to the venue sooner (and more slowly) or consider alternative transportation options (we’d all love to fly, but if a company road trip is possible, you could save big!).

Make Your Budget Work For You!

Even though these three items have roughly equivalent costs for most exhibitors, it’s important to note that your budget isn’t set in stone, but set according to your trade show goals. If you have a local show that you want to make a big splash at, consider saving on transport costs and getting a higher-end display that’ll shine in a better-than-average booth location, for instance.

How Much Do Trade Show Displays Cost?

Our expertise is in the area of trade show displays, so to help you figure out what displays may be the best options at your price point, we’re breaking down what each display might cost at a given budget level.

Budget-Friendly Trade Show Displays | <$1k - $2k

If you’re planning on exhibiting for under $10k total, that doesn’t resign you to a bad-looking display. There are plenty of affordable display options in your budget (where a display would be about 30% of your overall budget, at $3k or less) that can still help you stand out!

Banner Stands | $100-$2,000+

Banner stands are tall and thin displays that are an affordable, efficient way to get a display up and running, especially if you have great collateral, designs, and other display elements like tables and counters already taken care of.

These displays can run anywhere from a couple hundred dollars (for tension fabric and retractable banner stands) to a few thousand (for backlit banner stands, wider banner stands, or stands with monitor mounts).

Example Products

Tension Fabric Display Products | $500-$2,000+

For a similar low price, you can get any number of tension fabric display products that you can arrange and combine as you please.

Tension fabric is an industry-standard display material thanks to its durability, light weight, and ease of printing—with a tension fabric display (like a backwall, counter, or the banner stands mentioned above) you can fill most of the space in your 10’x10’ booth with a great looking custom graphic.

Example Products

Mid Range Trade Show Displays | $2k - $5k

If you’re budgeting more than $2k for your trade show display, but still need to keep it under $5k, you’ll probably get the most out of these mid-range display options.

Backlit Display Elements | <$1,000-$5,000

Backlit displays are especially popular in the trade show industry these days, and give brand designs a premium, hard-to-miss look. With a mid-range budget, you can easily afford an individual backlit display or two, like a backwall and counter, which will certainly make the most of your display space and provide great visibility, even at a crowded event.

Example Products

Tension Fabric Display Kits | $2,000-$5,000

If you want to go beyond the standard display elements, though, exhibitors at this budget can afford pre-curated tension fabric display kits, which are great for filling up booth spaces larger than the standard 10’x10’ plot (such as a 10’x20’ booth space).

These kits include two or more display elements (like backwalls, wall segments, banner stands, counters, and more) in a curated package that gives you all the functionality you’ll need.

Example Products

High End Trade Show Displays | $5k - $15k

At the higher end of trade show displays, you can afford displays that completely fill larger-sized booth plots (like 10’x20’ booth spaces) or fill a 10’x10’ space with a premium display kit that takes full advantage of your square footage.

Backlit Display Kits | $5k - $15k

Backlit display kits feature two or more display items that all include premium backlighting—everything from counters to banner stands and more—in a convenient package that makes the most of your 10’x10’ or 10’x20’ booth space.

Example Products

Custom-Built Trade Show Displays | $15k+

If you have even more to spend and are looking to create a show-stopping display, traditionally fabricated displays may not be what you need.

Consider a fully custom-built display including advanced features like hard-substrate printing, overhead display elements, and multi-story displays. Displays of this caliber require advanced assembly techniques, so you’ll also need to factor in additional I&D (installation and dismantling) costs.

Due to the high cost of their construction (ranging anywhere from 15k to 200k and up) it’s often cheaper to rent these displays rather than buy them outright—that’s a service offered by our High Impact Services brand—if the biggest displays are what you’re after, take a look!

Made Your Pick?

If you’re ready to order a display or want to see any other displays that will fit your budget, check out the rest of the products available on our online store.

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