Step 5 – Budgeting and organisation

Budgeting and organisation

Budgeting and organisation

No thorough planning process previous to participating in a trade fair is complete without a budget being drawn up in good time. Admittedly, it is difficult to forecast costs the first time round, but after finding out the costs at the first trade fair one can make better calculations for a second event.

After the fair has ended (approx. 6 months after the event), and once the cost of each individual item has been determined, it is possible to make a final assessment of costs versus benefits and decide on how successful the company was.

Cost factors involved in attending a trade fair

Cost factors involved in attending a trade fair

The costs can be broken down as follows:

  • stand rental, utilities and other operations (electricity, water, disposal)

  • stand construction and outfitting

  • services on the stand and communications

  • transport and waste disposal

  • personnel and travel

  • other expenses

The checklist for trade fair costs provides an overview of anticipated costs and itemises the above list in detail.

Trade Fair Costs Check List

Efficiency of trade fair participations: the AUMA Trade Fair Benefit Check

Efficiency of trade fair participations: the AUMA Trade Fair Benefit Check

More and more exhibitors want to calculate the cost-benefit ratio of taking part in trade fairs. However, as small and medium-sized companies often do not accurately formulate their trade fair objectives they are unable to adequately determine the benefits. As a result costs often loom as the sole issue, which is why some companies believe that taking part in trade fairs offers low benefits in relation to the costs.

For this reason, in close coordination with the exhibiting industry, the Association of the German Trade Fair Industry has put together the AUMA Trade Fair Benefit Check.

MNC TradeFairBenefitCheck

Support for participation in trade fairs

Support for participation in trade fairs

... for German companies

Public funding is available for German companies taking part in trade fairs, particularly as part of a scheme that supports trade fairs abroad (foreign trade fair programme of the Federal Republic of Germany). The aim is to support German companies to tap into markets in foreign countries. However, support is only given to participations within the frame of German Pavilions, e.g. joint German stands.

Support for taking part in trade fairs in Germany is provided by individual federal States. As a rule it is limited to specialist trade fairs and certain branches of industry. If and when funding is available at all, it is mainly given to small and medium-sized enterprises. Since 2007 Germany’s federal government has been running a programme that makes it easier for new technology companies to take part in leading international trade fairs in Germany.

Organising a trade fair participation

Organising a trade fair participation

Timetable and schedule

The timetable and schedule should list in chronological order every activity including individual tasks. One should work out the time needed to complete each job. All jobs requiring advance preparations, including construction and dismantling periods stipulated by the organisers, should be listed along with deadlines and persons responsible.

Trade fair participation – Check list

Type of participation

Type of participation

Taking part individually and hosting one’s own stand offers the best chances for success. However, for exhibitors who are taking their first steps at a trade fair there are other types of participation which newcomers can make use of in order to save organisational effort.

In cooperation with an experienced trade fair team, state-run agencies, associations and other institutions such as chambers of industry and commerce organise joint stands for individual federal States and branches of industry or for several companies exhibiting under one roof. This type of participation is an economical way of obtaining experience at trade fairs without spending large amounts of time or money.

Registration, Terms and conditions of participation


Lots of German trade fairs are booked out within a short period of time, so it is advisable to register early. Depending on trade fair cycles registration deadlines range from six to eighteen months before the event.

The following information is needed in order to register:

  • minimum and maximum stand area dimensions in m²

  • stand location in the hall or at the outdoor area

  • length and width of the stand

  • type of stand (row stand, corner stand, end of block or island stand)

  • alterations to the proposed layout

  • type of construction (one- or two-storey construction)

  • alterations to the proposed type of construction

  • information on the products on display (classification according to industry)

  • co-exhibitors and any other companies that are to be represented

Terms and conditions of participation

The terms and conditions of the contract regulate items such as

  • confirmation of participation,

  • stand rental fees,

  • terms of payment,

  • termination of the contract,

  • registration of co-exhibitors and other companies to be represented.

The technical section lists

  • construction and dismantling periods and rules,

  • stand design guidelines,

  • the construction materials permitted,

  • rules on waste avoidance and recycling,

  • stand height and maximum floor load information,

  • the technical systems supplying the stand

  • product presentations and advertising on the stands

  • information on fire safety and accident

  • safety regulations

  • notes on liability and insurance.

Safety regulation and Insurance

Safety regulations and insurance

Safety regulations

At trade fairs, depending on the country of origin, strict safety regulations apply to imported technical goods. For information regarding technical safety, exhibitors can contact the following organisations: Technischer Überwachungsverein (TÜV), VdTÜV, and for electrical safety information the VDE.


It is the obligation of an exhibitor to obtain proper insurance cover. Taking part in a trade fair entails numerous risks and the question of special exhibitor insurance policies was resolved decades ago. Organisers are liable only for damage to third parties and materials.

Exhibitors can also take out an exhibitor liability insurance.

Service for exhibitors

Services for exhibitors

In general organisers offer their help and support in all technical and organisational matters, particularly to first-time exhibitors. When an exhibitor receives the terms and conditions of participation / his confirmation of stand registration he will also receive order forms for numerous exhibitor services or for booking via the internet. In addition to materials for press work and advertising exhibitors can order a wide range of services from the organiser or from sub-contracted companies either free of charge or at fixed prices, for example:

  • a rented stand

  • rented furniture, kitchen units, floor coverings, lighting, audio-visual devices, presentation aids

  • shipping services

  • hotel booking services

  • stand cleaning and surveillance services

Trade fair entry passes are also issued to the exhibitor’s employees on the stand. The number of passes free of charge depends on the size of the stand; any additional passes may be purchased. Using the order forms received, exhibitors can also apply for parking permits in separate exhibitor parking areas, for which charges apply.

Catalogue and information systems

Catalogue and information systems

The entry forms for the catalogue and electronic information systems are usually sent together with the official confirmation of participation. Exhibitors should take note of the relatively early editorial deadlines, due to the catalogue being made available to visitors so they can make their trade fair preparations several weeks before the event.

Catalogue entries are usually classified according to three criteria:

  • alphabetically by company name (possibly with a brief product range description),

  • by product list / nomenclature and

  • by hall location, together with a hall map.

A classification similar to that of the catalogue applies to entries in electronic information systems for visitors. Advertisements may be placed here too. Exhibitors are advised to check their entries in these systems on the first day of the fair and to compare them with those of competitors so that they can make corrections, if required.

Transport and storage

Transport and storage

Good planning for handling shipments avoids unnecessary material losses and saves the extra expense of express deliveries. Regarding bulky exhibits it is advised to cooperate with a shipping company with trade fair experience.

When planning transports exhibitors should observe the following:

  • the type of vehicle: HGV, removal van, estate car, car, train, ship, aircraft

  • the type of shipment: individual shipment, accompanying cargo, combined shipment

  • the type of packaging: (recyclable) cardboard, boxes, containers

  • transport documents: nominal invoices, shipping orders, storage orders, translations, shipping documents, carnets

  • how and where to store empty packaging on the exhibition grounds

Travel and accomodation

Travel and accommodation

Exhibitors from countries who require entry visas should look on the website of the German embassy two months ahead of the fair to find out what documents are needed to apply for a visa, as well as to inquire the waiting times for an appointment. These can be quite long, particularly during peak travel periods.

In order to obtain the desired category of accommodation it is advisable to make a reservation in writing. Along with the terms and conditions of participation exhibitors also receive an order form for reserving accommodation. Every city hosting trade fairs has agencies that arrange hotel bookings ahead of a fair. These agencies are generally located at mainline stations and airports and during the fair can also be found on the exhibition grounds. They will book hotel rooms for visitors arriving at short notice.

Group tours from abroad often also attend trade fairs. Detailed information can be obtained from the organisers and their foreign representatives.

Sustainability: challenges and benefits

Sustainability: challenges and benefits

Protecting nature and the environment is one of economy’s and society’s most important tasks. For this reason sustainability is something that everyone must take into account. Trade fairs produce a huge volume of waste within a very small area over a short period of time. This is a major challenge.

Handling avoidable and unavoidable waste is inherent part of the process of managing the environment and for that reason organisers, stand designers and exhibitors must act in unison. By heeding the message that ”less is more“ exhibitors can determine how much and what type of waste they anticipate at an early stage. This both reduces and avoids the volume of waste. At all trade fairs and exhibitions managing the amount of waste during construction and dismantling is the main organisational issue. 75 to 80 % of the waste produced at trade fairs has to be disposed of within the shortest time. Furthermore, recyclable materials have to be sorted for further processing.

The trade fair industry is faced with the great challenge of handling the large amount of waste that is generated at the events within a short amount of time and in a confined space.

Handling avoidable and unavoidable waste is an important component of environmental management.

The logic is easy:

less waste = less disposal costs.

Sustainable action pays off.