By Chris Dolnack
According to recently updated trade show industry data, exhibit space represents approximately 22%-25% of an exhibitor’s total trade show spend. Exhibit space pricing is generally fixed and priced by the square foot of space. Of course, NSSF members receive a discount on their exhibit space, not to exceed their dues, but that’s a topic for another day.
That means that 75%-78% of an exhibitor’s total trade show spend is controllable to a degree. Here are eight ways that SHOT Show exhibitors can reduce their costs for the 2024 show.
Every company has its own definition of a successful trade experience.What does a successful SHOT Show look like for your company? Are you looking for sales leads? Earned media coverage for your new product launch from the 2,200+ credentialed media in attendance? YouTube views by consumers? Social media likes? Orders written? New vendors from Supplier Showcase? Meet and greet your customers? Some of these? All of these? It’s hard to calculate your ROI if you don’t have realistic goals of what your company hopes to accomplish. Meet with your senior management team to define what success looks like for your company and plan accordingly.
Given that a quarter of your show spend is exhibit space, assess your footprint, and consider reducing the size of your booth for 2025. Simply reducing your footprint can save a good amount of time and money on drayage, installation and dismantle labor. Most shows, including SHOT Show, do not allow downsizing without penalty after space has been committed to. Likewise, consider renting your booth display. Modern modular displays provide you with a custom look that can be reused for multiple shows such as NASGW Expo and NRA Show; and use lightweight materials, which reduces freight handling, installation and dismantle labor.
One of the things we saw coming out of the pandemic in 2022 and 2023 is that exhibitors brought fewer company personnel. To the tune of 2,000 fewer people. When you factor in hotel room nights, meals, transportation costs and customer entertainment, that can add up fast. Review your travel and entertainment policies to help stay within your budget. Sure, customers enjoy the experience of dining at a celebrity chef restaurant and it’s usually money well spent. For those who are not entertaining customers, there are plenty of good places to eat that won’t bust your budget.
Exhibitors can start promoting their presence at the SHOT Show before the event actually takes place. This will help to drive more traffic to your booth and potentially reduce overall costs by avoiding printing and sending out advance promotional material. Use social media to promote your company’s presence at the show and create buzz before and during the event. Consider providing a link to your digital catalog rather than printing, shipping and handing out catalogs.
Calculate Your Labor
Installation and dismantle labor is one of the budget line items that can quickly swirl out of control. Work with your display house or Exhibitor Appointed Contractor to schedule your setup labor in conjunction with your targeted move-in time. Properly estimate your electrical and internet needs in order to run your exhibit, inventory, and order systems. Incorporating high-level signage into your booth structure instead of a hanging sign can avoid expensive rigging charges, but still give you the visibility you need to be noticed on the SHOT Show floor.
Ship your freight to the advance off-site receiving by the deadline given in the online SHOT Show Exhibitor Manual. Try to avoid shipping to the on-site venue since you’ll pay to have your packages handled twice. Consolidating several small shipments into one or shipping them with your booth will eliminate these charges.
Don’t miss inbound or outbound target times. Shipments are normally targeted based on your booth number and location on the show floor. It is critical that your Exhibitor Appointed Contractor doesn’t miss these target times so as to not incur additional labor hours.
Plan In Advance
Plan travel well in advance for your booth staff. Begin to watch airfares well in advance, say, in the beginning of September. To secure the best room rates book your rooms early. And by early, consider that some of our largest exhibitors book their rooms for the following year while on-site at the SHOT Show at the OnPeak or Venetian Reservation desk in the Level 2 lobby. The hotel room block is structured on tiered pricing, similar to how airlines price airfares. The more seats available, the lower the price. The first segment of hotel rooms is always priced the lowest. The closer to the show, the less inventory there is and the higher the price. Yes, you can sometimes find last minute rooms at a low price through hotel room consolidators (Priceline, Travelocity, et al.), however if you have to cancel or make changes, you are dealing with the consolidator digitally and not the hotel. Calendar your deadlines and plan early to obtain the best rates available on ordering services for your booth.