International trade shows sure do have their appeal, and in particular, European trade shows. Finding new markets can turn into major revenue makers for some companies, and where better to find those opportunities than exhibiting at a trade show in that market. For a lot of marketing and event managers, budgeting locally is a ritual that has been performed for years and is easy to forecast based on previous exhibitions or other similar events.
International exhibiting adds a new twist when it comes for budgeting those new events. Anyone planning to exhibit in those new markets should first and foremost attend the show they are looking at as an attendee first. Lots of companies are often surprised by the difference of how companies exhibit abroad. The shows are much longer and the booths are a lot larger than what they’re used to seeing. Double decker exhibits are not the norm but are often predominant on European show floors for major players. Even if you are used to exhibiting in island booths in North America, it might not be as impressive compared to European standards. Looking at a smaller space might be a wiser choice, as your budget will be undoubtedly be affected by the following factors.
1. Airfare: Purchasing tickets to travel within North America is fairly common and routine in your trade show budget, but flying internationally can turn things upside down. This sounds obvious, but just as an example, the average flight to Las Vegas from Montreal is around $480. If we wanted to fly to Dusseldorf Germany, we would expect to pay about $1400 per ticket.
2. Lodging: Hotels in the US and Canada vs. European countries have quite the price difference. The average room in Las Vegas is around $100 per night, but in Dusseldorf you can expect to pay a whopping $541 per night. Did I mention this is per person?
3. Currency: The per diem you give your employees for food and expenses will also be affected by local currency. This is something not to forget, as the exchange rate could really be putting your staff in a tough place. Your show services will also be raised by the higher currency in Europe.
4. Length of the show: We are used to the 2 to 3 day shows here in North America but most shows in Europe will last 5 or 6 days. That means you will need to double your 2 or 3 day budget for lodging, food, and other miscellaneous expenses.
5. Shipping of your trade show booth: If you have plenty of time between your different shows, ocean freight might be an option for you. But if your schedule is hectic the use of air freight might be necessary. Depending on the size of your exhibit though, this can be very costly. In this situation, you may want to consider renting your exhibit from near where your show will be.
1. Floor space: The average price of floor space in Europe is usually lower than North America.
2. Drayage: There is usually no drayage fees for your exhibit but you might have to rent special equipment if you cannot bring it easily to your space.
3. Length: European shows can be almost double in the length of time as a North American show, giving you many extra days to meet more attendees and potential clients at the show.
If you want to make sure your budget is on target for your European show, make your budget in the currency of the country you’ll be flying to. This will give you a real sense of the dollars and cents you’ll be spending. A seasoned Canadian trade show manager could have planned his budgets for 2015 in mid-2014 and could have not predicted that the US dollar would be up 0.20$ on this year, raising his cost by 20% on the show floor, services, lodging, and all other expenses during the time of the event. If you’re an American exhibitor coming to Canada you obviously enjoy a nice 20% savings on all those costs.
In conclusion, understand all of the details and conversions you need to know about the show you’re planning to attend. There should be no surprises in the dollars and currency if you can plan accordingly. Your ROI at international or European shows will definitely be worth it. As long as you establish good and realistic objectives you probably won’t have to step in to the big man’s office and explain why you were so off budget.
By: Sebastien Robillard –