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What are the main costs when organising an exhibition?

The world of trade shows and exhibitions was decimated in 2020 by the COVID-19 pandemic. In a ‘normal’ year, there are around 1,600 exhibitions that take place for both trade and the public in a whole host of different sectors, attracting around 265,000 exhibitors. Exhibitions are a fantastic place for industry professionals to network and socialise, keeping up to date with the latest industry trends whilst sharing knowledge and insights.

They are also a valuable marketplace for many industries, connecting manufacturers and wholesalers with retailers. Whilst some large exhibitions went ‘virtual’ in 2020, there’s no substitute for face-fo-face contact when it comes to business, and that’s why we’re now seeing these exhibitions and trade shows making a return to the large UK exhibition venues, as COVID restrictions are relaxed.

If you’re new to the exhibition planning world, then it’s certainly an exciting space to get involved in. In this article, we look at the main costs when organising an exhibition, including exhibition equipment hire.

Exhibition venue

By far the main cost of organising an exhibition is the venue. Here in the UK, we’re fortunate enough to have access to a whole host of dedicated exhibition spaces including London ExCeL, Olympia, Event City in Manchester, and the NEC in Birmingham to name just a few.

Exhibition venues are typically ‘blank canvas’ in nature, meaning that as the exhibition organiser you rent space. It’s then your job to sell this space to exhibitors who want to attend your exhibition. Like anything else, the more years of experience you have of organising an exhibition and especially if it’s a well-established, annual event, then things will get simpler and easier over time. However, if this is a new show in a new sector that you want to set up, is it a risk you are happy to take? High risk, high reward, of course, but you’ve got to hire your exhibition venue before you start selling your space!

Hopefully you are confident enough to be able to do this. Take the example of an event space that costs £100,000 for your show dates. You might be able to sell a 3m x 3m exhibition stand for, say, £2,000. Are you confident of getting AT LEAST 50 exhibitor companies to attend? The reality is that not only will you want more than this (you don’t just want to break even!), but you will probably have the larger exhibitor companies willing to pay more for more floor space.

Only you know how confident you are in achieving these required sales!

Your team

And talking about having the confidence to sell your floor space, one of the next larger costs comes in having a team around you. There are certainly industry professionals out there who, for a full time living, sell exhibition floor space, and these are worth their weight in gold! Marketeers, sales, operations and logistics experts will all play their part in creating your successful team!


As well as having the team around you, you’ll need to spend money on marketing and advertising your exhibition. This might be in the form of adverts in the industry press, to attract new exhibitors, or it might be on your social media channels where you can easily target companies at affordable rates.

At the same time, establish and maintain a website with fresh content about your exhibition, keeping everything up-to-date in terms of dates, venue, transport links, parking, floor plan prices and so on – in other words, everything people need to know about your exhibition in one click!

You should also integrate ‘live’ floor plan software on your exhibition website, as this shows a real-time plan, helping your sales team to provide an accurate plan and, therefore, enabling them to close sales with potential exhibitor companies. All this, again, comes at a cost, so be prepared for that.

Exhibition furniture

And finally, whilst your main job is to sell floor space, you’ll also need to keep aside certain zones within your exhibition hall for your own use. Not only does this help you with repeat sales for next year, but it also provides visitors with useful areas that really make a difference. Examples of these might be a VIP or sponsor lounge, a demonstration area, seminar or lecture theatre areas or even temporary offices where those all-important deals can be struck in private.

And whilst it’s all well and good having these areas, you’ll also need to spend money on furnishing them with exhibition furniture hire. Furniture such as stools and poseur tables, lounge furniture and coffee tables all represent perfect furniture hire for exhibitions as not only are they professional in style, but they are also functional and comfortable.

So, there you have it – the 4 main costs associated with organising an exhibition. When you need exhibition equipment hire London for those exhibition centres in the City, take a look around at various suppliers, as there are plenty offering you a wealth of choice for your upcoming event. And remember to keep a tight control of your budget!

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