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5 Ways to Cut Trade Show Staff Travel Costs

If your trade show budget was impacted by COVID-19, then there are likely many aspects of your trade show marketing program that must be reevaluated.

One piece of the puzzle that many exhibitors don’t focus on is the many ways to cut expenses when sending a trade show staff to an event.

With staffing expenses hitting around 20% for many exhibitors, it’s important to pay close attention to costs when sending your staff to a live, in-person trade show. Rather than cutting costs in your booth that could hinder the appearance or experience in your exhibit, consider these tips to save you money when sending your trade show staff to your next event.

Plan ahead.
Finding the most cost-effective ways to get your trade show staff to and from your event will likely take some far in advance planning. A trade show marketing plan takes a lot of time to see through from start to finish. When you first start planning for your next trade show and you’re sure you’ll be attending, don’t put planning for your staff’s travel on the backburner.

Hotel and flight bookings are not something you want to wait to do last-minute. Be sure to book your hotel early – this ensures that you will find something close to the event location before all of the nearby hotels are booked up. Postponing your hotel booking could result in having to find a hotel further away and racking up Uber expenses when your trade show team could have easily walked from a closer hotel had you booked sooner.

There tends to be a sweet spot when booking flights. Many travel advisors recommend purchasing airline tickets 70 days in advance. Fares also tend to be cheaper on Tuesdays.

Take advantage of group rates!
Rather than booking your team’s travel all separately, you should definitely be taking advantage of group rates to drive down your staff’s travel expenses. Pay attention to which hotels and airlines offer group rates as some have better rates than others. Delegate one person to book travel accommodations and find the best rates. This will also ensure that your entire team is traveling together at all times rather than having a flight fill up and resulting in multiple separate rides to and from the airport should their flights be at varying times.

Don’t send too many booth staffers.
It can be easy to assume that you would send the same amount of staff members to a show each year. This year especially, you may need to reconsider how many booth staffers you are sending depending on your booth size and how many attendees can fit into your booth while also allowing for social distancing. Keeping one or two people back at the office can add up. Just be sure that you have all of your bases covered in terms of your business’s goals.

Determine how many people are expected to attend your upcoming trade show and figure out how many staff members will be adequate to collect lead information. It’s important that you aren’t missing out on speaking to attendees just because you have too few booth staffers to keep up with your booth traffic. In this case, the money that you save on booth staff expenses could cost you losing twice as much in leads.

The best advice is to find a happy medium! You don’t want to pay to send your booth staff to an event if they’re truly unneeded.

Get a good understanding of the logistics of your event before booking.
As you delegate someone to be in charge of finding the best rates, group bookings, etc., be sure that they’re also doing their research on the event location. Many trade show websites share recommended hotels. Don’t miss an opportunity to get a hotel that’s walking distance from the show as this can save you in taxi, Uber, Lyft or car rental expenses. If there are no hotels within walking distance at the time of your booking, trade show websites often offer transportation shuttles from certain hotels, so be on the lookout for that. You can also consider hotels with access to low-priced public transportation as a last resort.

Don’t be afraid to set expense limits.
While your trade show staff is a huge asset to your overall trade show program and you want them to be treated well as they travel to represent your business, it’s still practical to limit their expenses.

With no clear limits, it could be easy for your team to assume that they’re on a spending free-for-all. Setting clear limits will ensure that everyone is on the same page. Communicate these limits through an official travel and expense policy that outlines travel, dining, tipping, etc.

While many businesses find their way back to exhibiting as restrictions are lifted, there may be some necessary budget changes. This list of tips is a good place to start! Figuring out how to cut costs while still showing up in the best way possible for your attendees is key to continue growing your business through trade shows.