Turnkey exhibition stand VS individual contracting

Several different service providers are often involved in trade fair stands. When you are offered a turnkey trade show booth, you are often paying for the outsourcing of many services. Is it worth the savings to hire on your own? we tell you in this post.
pig and key over a trade show background

When can you save by contracting fair stands individually?

If you have a very tight budget, or if it is a stand for your own SME and you want to maximize the result... why not hire yourself?

This way you save the benefit of subcontracting, since not many builders have their own sign makers, audiovisuals, cleaning staff... and they will charge you for the management. It is certainly more work, but there are at least 3 things that you can hire on your own:

Trade show booth signs:

There are endless companies dedicated to graphics that have experience in signage for stands (you just have to search for "stand signage" in Google, and you will see that they have many things done, at fairs) Here you save money and it is not little. Suppose you are paying about 3,000 euros for signage, here you can get about 1,000 euros less.

Audiovisuals of fair stands

The same thing, this is not something complicated to install in general unless it is a very complex video wall, normally TVs, audio... there are endless companies that do this work at fairs and you can google it. Another option is… buy the material! The price for which the builder rents it to you + your margin already make up the sale price. You just have to store the TV box in the storage of the house or take it with your van if you have it to be able to store it safely during disassembly. Be careful if you buy a TV... don't forget the support and define with the carpenter who will do the assembly.

Fair booth cleaning

They charge you for the first cleaning of the stand, and it is not cheap. You can hire this yourself without affecting the project, just clean up and go home. The cleaning of the stand during the fair is usually done with the fair, since it is difficult for outsiders to enter the pavilions to work during the fair. If you are in Spain you can call these people who go to most of the important fairs.

Exhibition stand Furniture

Here it is more difficult to get a price since they offer a discount for professionals of stands and events, but you do not lose anything in asking if they can do it for you. In any case, at the end of the post I leave you some interesting links of the most important European furniture rental companies that are usually present in most of the most important fairs.

Check this case study: Exhibition stand of 45 m2

Now it's normal for you to say ok, but How much can I save by hiring all these elements on my own? To give you an idea of the savings, here is an example of a typical booth, where you can see the impact of the margin on the total price. Please note that this is just an example and does not mean that all stands fall within this price range, as it depends on many factors (stand location, country, etc.).

exhibition stand white background
Exhibition stand example

A major advantage of doing this recruitment yourself is that you have your own control over the times. This can be a point for or against depending on whether your carpenter respects the agreed assembly times. In the case of graphics, the stand has to be painted one day before placing it, this must be taken into account. 

There are several things to keep in mind when hiring these services yourself:

1- Work with suppliers of local fair stands: Foreign graphics suppliers will not be able to react in time to unforeseen events.

2- Make sure that the graph has a correct preparation for printing. You can download the manual that we use in my company.

3- In the case of graphics, it is very important that everything is painted 24 hours before applying the self-adhesive vinyl. If the graph is stapled there is no problem.

4-Furniture is usually delivered during assembly days and can be stolen if left unattended in the fair halls. Make sure there will be someone to receive it and if possible keep it in the

5- If you are going to install a TV you bought, remember the TV support 🙂 and discuss its installation with the carpenter. In case of renting it you have to tell the carpenter where to make the hole for the cable or the socket to plug it in.

Let's see how the numbers come out:

excel table with booth quotation

As you can see, The total savings in this fair stand is about €2,800, which is not much considering that the final budget for the stand is around 28k. Even so, I find it interesting what you can save in case you are on a very tight budget. In this case, the carpentry is what costs the most since this stand is designed to be built in Germany, and it is counting a transport from Poland or Spain that is quite expensive;

What if I hire everything, including carpentry, painting, etc. on my own?

In trade fair stands there are different types of suppliers of turnkey fair stands: those that have their own manufacturing and those that are agencies and subcontract. The difference between you and the agencies is that they do the design and also usually get a discount from their carpenters, but this is not always the case. 

If you are able to directly contact the stand carpenters at the fair and make your own design, there is the possibility of doing without the agency. How is it done? Well, touring the fair during assembly and talking to the carpenters. You have to pay attention because the carpenters of exhibition stands Those who work with agencies do not usually wear signs on their vests, they are usually companies that are not dedicated to the end customer. 

Ask for cards, talk to them and try to ask for a budget for the next edition. It does not hurt that you keep a photo of the stand that they have taken for you, because you have to be sure that they are going to give you quality.

 That being said: overall I do not recommend it 😊. It's not easy to control a complete setup and you can miss a lot. If you can do it and you plan on trying to save another 7,000 bucks….

two project managers with helmets with a trade show backgroud

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

Man with helmet and reflective vest