How much does it cost to participate in a fair: fair stand assembly guide /15

How much does it cost to participate in a fair? The million dollar question you ask yourself when you decide to participate with your company in an event of this category. In this post I summarize the most important expenses you will have and if you read until the end, you will see examples and concrete numbers that will help you get the idea you need.
euro symbol over a trade show blue tinted background

How much does it cost to participate in a trade show in Europe?

When calculating the costs of a fair there are some variables that can greatly alter the price: 

  • The type of stand you are going to make (if it is modular or handmade).
  • The duration of the fair: There are fairs that last two days, others a whole week or more….
  • The country where the fair is held: The prices of hotels, services and construction of stands vary a lot depending on the country or city. Barcelona, for example, is much cheaper than Munich to build a stand…..
As there is so much variability it is very difficult to talk about costs. In any case, I am interested in giving you a general idea, so I will try to average and give you some references so that at the end of this post you will at least keep something. 
If you are thinking of building a modular stand, which is usually cheaper (as long as you don't use a premium modular, which there are), you can use the following rule to find out the cost of your fair: 
For simple modular stands that do not require extended services, the following scale can be established: 
  • 22%: Space rental (Participation fee)
  • 40%: Stand rental
  • 14%: Travel, diets, hotels
  • 17%: Promotion of fairs (marketing, mailing, brochures, stationery)
  • 3% Services
  • 4% Shipping (Basic, only 1 pallet with promotional material)

Another quick way to calculate the cost of participating in a fair (with a modular stand) is to multiply the cost of the stand x 4.5 Keep in mind that the costs can vary greatly depending on the fair or the country where it is held.

In the case of custom stands the prices have a very large variation depending on the type of stand you make (with the modular one it is more predictable). By this I mean that your stand can easily go from €250 per square meter to €1000. so I am not going to give you any general rule in this regard. To get an idea of the prices of custom stands, you can click here.

Here's a breakdown of trade show overhead: 

Space rental costs

Let's see the rental prices offered by some of the main European venues. (The prices are merely illustrative and the exclusive responsibility of each fairground or organizer).

Messe Frankfurt (Ambient 2023)

participation fees

Paris Villepinte (Maison & Object 2022)

space typeprice/m²Electric connection
Standard318 €550 €
2 free sides349,8550 €
3/4 free sides381,6 €550 €

The price here also varies depending on the location in the pavilion. These costs must be added to the price per m2:

participation fee

Fiera Milano (ITMA 2023)

As you can see there is a variation in costs depending on the fairground and the fair in question, but on average the cost of space is about 250 €/sqm.

Stand construction expenses

Normally, the stands for fairs are rented, although there is the possibility of buying them and contracting only the assembly. You can also choose to set up the stand yourself, if you use a popup for example. In this case we will talk about rental stands.

Modular stands:

In modular stands it is much easier to average the price because they have fewer variables. Keep in mind that if you contract the stand directly with the fair, you have the benefits of saving electricity and others, depending on the fair. The average price of a modular fair stand is around €250/300/m².

If you want to know more about modular supports and their characteristics, you can click here.

craft stands

The rental price of a custom stand varies enormously depending on the qualities, the configuration and the square meters. For this reason it is impossible to give a price. Making an average among many projects carried out, my personal opinion is that the cost of a typical rental stand, with a typical length, is around €350/400/m². But you cannot be guided by this, since the variables are very large and especially in these convulsed times due to inflation and the rise in raw materials and transport.

At the end of the post you will see a specific example of a custom stand and its impact on the overall cost of the fair.

You can get a more concrete idea of what a exhibition stand will be worth in 2023 reading this post. 

Travel, diets

The cost of traveling, staying overnight, eating... is high. That's why It is important that you buy both flights and hotels at least 1 year in advance if possible. Many cities saturate their capacity with large fairs and hotels will cost you 5 times more if you book them on the date.
Although the prices of hotels and air transport vary immensely depending on the country, or the city where you exhibit, we are going to make an average calculation to have a general idea of costs. We assume that you travel within Europe (intercontinental trips totally change the price) We also calculate the average number of days that a fair usually lasts, which are between two and 6 in general (let's say 4).

google map plan
Hotel prices around Messe Frankfurt one year before the Ambiente 2024 fair
amountaverage cost
Plane tickets (travel in Europe)4800 €
Hotel (3/4 stars) 2 people41.600 €
Diets (€100/day) 2 people4800 €
Shuttle/taxi8240 €
several4200 €

Of course it can vary immensely, but being austere and hiring in advance the cost for 2 people, 4 days would be about €3,640.

fair services

The cost of services for fairs must be taken into account because depending on the type of your stand it can be multiplied x5. Depending on whether your stand has suspended elements, the kilowatts of consumption that you are going to need and several other factors, you have to take into account the following average expenses:

Power supply (extra) 11kw800 €
Rigging (2 points)1.300 €
Daily cleaning (40 m2/4 days)1.100 €
Fair storage200 €
Bull300 €

There are many other services that can be added to this list such as catering, hostesses, plants, photography, among others. If you want to have a more complete vision of the fair services you can check the following post.

trade show promotion

The promotion of your presence at the fair, as well as the material you deliver to your potential customers, is as important as the fair itself. That is why it represents a significant expense that you have to consider seriously. The following are typical expenses:

Brochure Design (4)2.000 €
Printing of triptychs (1000 units)400 €
Gifts for visitors (gadgets)500 €
Press Releases/Web Posts300 €
Graphic design of the walls and exhibitors of the stand1.500 €

You can multiply the expense by 5 depending on your needs, remember that this is just a reference. The total would be: €4700

Shipment of material (products)

The cost of sending your material to the fair can be high. Therefore, you have to take into account the amount of product you are going to exhibit and its cost. You may also have to spend money on packaging. A complete trailer can cost 3,000 euros one way and 3,000 euros return… but if you only have to send a pallet it may not exceed 1000 euros. To give you a general idea, let's think that you don't need to transport any product and that you are only going to send brochures, promotional material and catering, which is the minimum and usually fits on a single pallet. So let's assume a shipment from Spain to Germany of a pallet. The average cost in 2023 is €500.

Ok, so... how much am I going to spend?

Since there is a very important variation in the price of a stand depending on its configuration, I think it may be useful to analyze two examples; The first example is a basic modular stand offered by the fair. It is the minimum that can be contracted to have a decent participation. The second case is a stand made to measure in carpentry, with a suspended overhead volume and various trade fair services. It also has product at the stand. In both cases, two people have been used for travel and expenses.

Example 1

Economic stand / 16 m2 / modular, with minimal services / Germany

Basic modular exhibition stand
Basic modular stand offered by Interlift for the year 2023

Example 1: Overhead

BillsPricepercentage of total
Space rental 16m2/€205 x m23.280 €22,31%
Construction of stands (280 euros/m²) Electric consumption included: 3 kW5.600 €38,10%
Travel, diets, hotels2.100 €14,29%
Promotion of the fair (marketing, mailing, brochures, stationery)2.800 €19,05%
Fair Services (Media Package + Fair Fee + Disposal and Hygiene)419 €2,85%
Shipping (Europe, 1 pallet)500 €3,40%
Total14.699 €

Did you find it cheap? Don't be so happy, this is the cheapest option from my point of view and experience to participate in a fair in Europe. If you want to see something more realistic…take a look at example 2. 

Example 2

Trade fair stand carpentry / 60 m2 / Extended services / Germany

exhibition stand aerial sign
Custom stand with rigging and exposed product

First, let's look at the cost of the services, which in this case are extended;

Fair services:

Power supply (extra) 11kw800 €
Rigging (2 points)1.300 €
Daily cleaning (40 m2/4 days)1.100 €
Fair storage53 €
Forklift (for unloading and loading of products)300 €
Compressed air489 €
Water + connection705 €
Mandatory entry in the media330 €
Disposal & Hygiene (4.95xm2)79,2 €
Professional Association Fee10€
TOTAL5.166 €

General expenses

BillsPrice% Percentage of total
Space rental 60m2/€205 x m212.710 €24,50 %
Construction of stands (450 euros/m²)27.000 €52,05 %
Travel, diets, hotels2.100 €4,05 %
20%: Promotion of the fair (marketing, mailing, brochures, stationery)2.800 €5,40 %
fair services5.166 €9,96 %
Shipping and return of products by road through groupage 6 pallets2.100 €4,05 %
Total49.776 €

This figure is already more realistic and although you can make your stand cheaper (for example without rigging) and thus lower the price a bit, depending on the size of the stand and the products you have, you may not be able to escape these figures;

I hope this post has been useful to you! Remember that all the prices in this post are for illustrative purposes and I am not responsible for their modification or update, always check the figures with suppliers and organizers. These prices correspond to 2022/23 so you also have to take into account inflation in the eurozone when taking them into account;

If you liked it and you think you can get more out of what I write, I leave you some content from this series. Bye bye.

Looking for something else?

This is a series of articles that aim to give a complete vision of the assembly of trade fair stands. Here you can see the links to the topics that I touch on, I assure you that you will not regret taking a look: 

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Consult the content of our Survival Manual for fair stands

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