Checklist to budget for an exhibition

Before you start thinking about your exhibition stand and how many amazing new clients you’ll find when you take it to your next exhibition, it’s essential to create a budget.

Without a budget, you risk over-spending, or worse, making a loss from what could have been a profitable event.

Below, we’ve made a handy checklist for budget planning to help you avoid this:

How to set an exhibition budget to drive ROI


Create a new budget for every single exhibition or event. Every one of them.

  •  Don’t rely on last year’s figures. Every exhibition is different and costs and objectives change.

Set your objectives for your event. What do you want to get out of it?

  • Number of leads?
  • Sales?
  • Profits?
  • PR exposure?

Put a monetary value on your objectives.

  • Sales leads and PR exposure both have financial value too.
  • If you don’t put a number on it, you can’t measure it.
  • Be realistic.

Now you have a target figure, work out the size of your total budget.

  • Make sure you allow for a profitable return on investment (ROI)
  • Do not go over that budget. Treat it as a fixed ceiling and stick to it.

Your total budget is now set.

Now you need to break down your budget by individual items.

  • Use actual figures, or best estimates, not guesswork based on what you think you might spend.
  • Remember to allow for VAT. And remember it’s now 20%.

Our Checklist of Budget Items:

  1. Exhibition space rental
  2. Stand design and graphics
  3. Display purchase
  4. Show services (eg. power and lighting to your stand)
  5. Travel costs and expenses
  6. Hotel costs
  7. Cost of staff
  8. Transportation of products and equipment
  9. Promotional material
  10. Publicity
  11. Other/Contingency

Compare your itemised budget with your financial objectives.

  • If your budget doesn’t meet your financial objectives, recalculate both.
  • If they still don’t balance, you should reconsider attending this specific exhibition, rather than face making a loss.

Remember after the event to measure your ROI to see whether the event really was successful and think about what you’d change next time to improve your return.

Exhibition Cost Calculator 

We have created an exhibition cost calculator to help you to calculate the total cost of the event.

This calculator tool can help you understand the possible cost of an event before you attend and the number of leads or sales you will need to generate to ensure the event is profitable.

You will be able to input actual costs and performance of the exhibition and compare these numbers to budget and forecast figures.

Simply download the spreadsheet and input your own figures. Good luck!

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