Even though I’ve done a gazillion trade shows, I’ve never gotten used to the ridiculously over-inflated prices charged for stuff that a rational person would expect included. For example, last week’s operational expenses came to $1,394 for the three days. Here’s the breakdown:
6′ x 42″ undraped table $ 64.40 9′ x 20′ carpet $236.00 Two black diamond stools $236.40 Two bistro table $328.20 Vacuuming (200 square feet, once daily) $ 56.00 Handling crated stuff $102.54 Inbound transportation $237.30 120V, 500W (15A) outlet $ 71.00 Coworker waking up at 2:00 a.m., buck-naked in the hotel fountain priceless
(Editor note: The last one is a joke* just to see if anyone’s paying attention!)
What this doesn’t include are the cost of the booth, the price we pay to participate in the show, or shipping stuff each way. Yes, grasshopper, the handling and inbound transportation is only for getting our boxes from the Fairly Universal Convention (center) warehouse to our booth cubby.
The furniture (and draping) fees are for rental, and the furniture is definitely used. For example, several of the little plastic dots covering the tubular structure of the chairs (so one wouldn’t be tempted to stick a finger in there — ewwwww) were missing and the table is… just a garden variety card table. Vacuuming happens, but with black carpet (also likely recycled many times), everything flake of dandruff and bit of paper shows up. Power is given via a really long extension cord coming down from the ceiling to which we network our array of power strips to drive two 20-W lamps, a monitor, and two laptops. An internet connection would have set us back another $400.
Comparatively speaking, this is more expensive than the show I went to in Austin. There, furnishings (10×10 space, 80″ back wall drape, 80″ draped table and two chairs) were included in the exhibitor charge. For additional fees, I could get an high-speed internet connection ($400), telephone ($170 + $0.18/minute for long distance), and electricity ($52.50). The Austin show’s attendance was substantially lower than the one last week.
(*Incidentally, the fountain thing happened at another show, very different company ten years ago. Ah, Tivoli!)