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Uncovering True Total Cost of Ownership for Your Vancouver Trade Show Exhibits

June 29, 2018

Uncovering True Total Cost of Ownership for Your Vancouver Trade Show Exhibits

When you purchase an island trade show exhibit, you may see one price tag, but there are actually two.

And while most exhibitors choose their exhibit based on the first price tag, it’s the second price tag that actually matters most. Let me explain.

Vancouver Island Trade Show Exhibit Price Tag #1: Initial Purchase Price

The most visible price tag is the initial purchase price.  According to the EDPA, this averages about $143 US per square foot.  So a 30 x 30 island exhibit would be about $128,700 US.

When you get multiple bids for a new exhibit build, you get a price tag that you can compare against others.  Prices may vary by $10,000 to $20,000. Most buyers choose what they perceive to be the best value: the exhibit that provides the most design impact, alignment with their marketing goals.  It may or may not be the lowest priced exhibit.  Wise buyers also consider service and support.

Vancouver Island Trade Show Exhibit Price Tag #2: Total Cost of Ownership

However, the second price tag is the Total Cost of Ownership.  This is how much the exhibit costs to use over its lifespan.  With an exhibit lasting 3 to 5 years on average, and a trade show schedule with 5 to 10 shows per year, your shipping, drayage, installation & dismantle, storage, and refurbishing expenses will be far greater than the initial purchase price.

And – this is the key – while your initial purchase price may fluctuate by $10,000 to $20,000 between different exhibit houses, your total cost of ownership can vary by $50,000 to $100,000 or more between a traditional wood-based custom exhibit and a lighter, custom modular exhibit from Skyline BC.

So, exhibitors could choose an exhibit that may cost $10,000 less on the initial puchase price, but end up costing $100,000 more on its Total Cost of Ownership.  I hope you see this concept clearly now and won’t be among those buyers!

Why don’t more exhibitors see this cost savings?  Because determining it is hard work.  You have to ask and receive estimated weights (including crates) for all exhibit designs, then get shipping, drayage, I&D, and storage quotes against your likely multi-year trade show schedule.  That’s a lot of work.

But it’s worth it to do your homework.  When you do, you’ll discover just how much better you will be with Skyline BC.  We can create beautiful, customized trade show environments that go beyond what a traditional, wood-based exhibit can.  You will get lower operating costs with Skyline.  This cost savings can help your trade show program produce far greater ROI for your company.

Another Hidden Savings from Modular Trade Show Exhibits: Greater Flexibility

While it’s hard to put a price tag on it, you will get far greater flexibility with a modular custom trade show exhibit.  Modular exhibits allow you to easily change graphics for updated or different marketing messages – and then change them back if you need to.  Plus, modular exhibits adapt to different booth sizes, letting you fit in a 20 x 20, a 30 x 30, and a 20 x 40 with the same set of exhibit properties.  I suppose the price tag you save is not having to buy a second exhibit!

It’s all about the budget.  Give us a custom exhibit budget and see what we can do!


Welcome to the Big Time. When you exhibit in an island trade show booth, you're making a major marketing commitment. The costs are larger, the expectations higher, and the risks greater. But so is the potential. Click here to request this free 60-page book, and better prepare yourself for the unique challenges faced by island exhibitors like you.

About the Author

Chris Laundy is the President and CMO of Skyline BC, which delivers unique, cost-effective and innovative trade show displays to Vancouver and British Columbia marketers.  Chris’s company helps their clients improve their brand representation and manage the high operational cost of exhibiting in Canada and the United States.  Skyline BC’s website can be found at www.skyline.com/vancouver-bc.

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