5 Ways to Get More Out of Your Exhibition Design Budget

5 Ways to Get More Out of Your Exhibition Design Budget
by Adam Fabianski / July 04, 2022

Designing an exhibition that attracts attention and wows visitors is challenging. New ideas and innovations emerge each year that raise the bar for exhibition designers and their clients. From trade show booths to museum exhibits, today’s exhibition visitors expect fresh, engaging experiences. How can you create a compelling exhibition display and keep up with the competition while keeping your costs under control? 

In this article, we’ll explain how, with thorough planning and thoughtful execution, you can build an impressive exhibition that doesn’t break your budget.

Start with a thorough exhibition design strategy

Involve an exhibition designer early

Partner with a full-service exhibition design partner

Stick to your exhibition design plan

Use (and reuse) your exhibit design wisely

Get the most out of your exhibition design budget

Start with a plan that defines and prioritizes your exhibition objectives

Costs can add up quickly when designing an exhibition. Odds are you  don’t have unlimited time or money to invest in bringing your exhibition vision to life.The first step to keeping your spending under control is setting your goals and boundaries and creating a list of “must haves.”  This key step will kick off your exhibition project with a plan that defines why you’re creating the exhibition and what resources you’ll use. 

The exhibition development plan will highlight your objectives, budget, timeline, and other resources or constraints. Make notes during your early discussions to pinpoint what elements are essential and which can be left on the drawing board. 

Working from a detailed plan that defines your exhibition’s purpose and the elements that support that purpose will help your team pursue the right priorities when allocating funds. For example, it isn’t necessary to spend the same amount on every square foot of your available space. Your biggest investments should be in those elements that transform the space and communicate your message, not those that simply fill it. 

With a clear roadmap in place, you can achieve the best results without allowing your budget to go off track. 

Involve an exhibition design company early in the process

You don’t need to wait until your plan is fully developed before tapping experts to help create your exhibit. In fact, to achieve the best results, you should involve an exhibit design company at the pre-planning stage. 

A company that conceptualizes and builds exhibits will have the knowledge and expertise to identify the most economic and effective ways to achieve your goals. Key decisions—from material selection to production methods—will have a major impact on budget and timeline, so you’ll want expert guidance early in the planning process. 

A full-service exhibition design and fabrication company also has the experience to provide you with realistic time and cost estimates. You’ll be able to adjust your expectations before you become invested (financially or emotionally) in a plan that can’t be executed. 

With advance notice of your plans, your design and fabrication partner can proactively identify opportunities for cost savings across every stage of your project from concept to completion. 

Plus, they can mitigate the impact of overtime, materials shortages, and rush delivery fees caused by last-minute changes that can bust your budget. 

Getting expert advice throughout your design and production process enables you to maximize the amount you spend on creating a lasting impression with your audience by reducing unnecessary expenses and anticipating challenges.

Work with a design and fabrication partner that can manage the process from start-to-finish 

Whether you’re building a one-time exposition display, an interactive entertainment experience or a permanent museum installation, crafting the final results requires numerous creative and technical skills. You might choose a different vendor to handle each task from cases to signage, storage to set-up, or select an agency that outsources and manages these tasks. For instance, some companies will outsource tasks such as CNC fabrication, lighting integration, wide-format printing or rigging. But with each new participant you add, you add more complexity to managing the project and keeping your budget under control.

Streamline the process and get the most out of your budget by working with a single design and fabrication company that can handle all the phases of your exhibition project. 

When you work with a full-service exhibition company, you will:

  • Avoid time-consuming subcontract negotiations (and subcontracting fees)
  • Spend less time in phone calls and meetings and coordinating communications between multiple parties
  • Experience fewer logistical problems, such as scheduling and delivery conflicts between vendors
  • Have a single point of contact (and accountability)
  • Eliminate the risks of dealing with unknown suppliers and service providers

In simplest terms, working with a single trusted partner that handles the project from start to finish saves you time, money, and, most importantly, frustration. 

Stay on course and stick with your exhibition design plan

As a professional in the exhibition and experiential design space, I see exciting, innovative, new ideas every day. It’s hard not to be distracted by the next big thing. Don’t let shiny object syndrome tempt you into breaking your budget, though. 

A single small change has the potential to trigger a series of cost overruns. That doesn’t mean you can’t make any changes to your project as it evolves. However, set aside some of your budget in advance to accommodate necessary or high-impact changes to allow room for flexibility. 

Then, evaluate any proposed change within the limits of your original plan and objectives. Have confidence in your plan and your team and trust that your exhibition will achieve your goals. 

Use (and reuse) your exhibit design resources wisely

One way to get the most from your budget that is sometimes overlooked is sustainability. Will your exhibition survive until the end of its run and what happens after the show is over? 

There are warehouses all over the world filled with the detritus of past commercials and movie shoots, store displays, exhibits, and events. Think about how long your exhibition needs to last and what you’ll do with it when you no longer need it as you plan your project. 

Look for ways to reuse or repurpose single-event exhibit items like trade show booths and their components to reduce your overall exhibition costs. Invest in materials that are durable and can be repaired for your permanent installations. Keep storage and transportation costs in mind, too. Is the most durable material so heavy that it will double the transportation costs of your traveling exhibit? 

Share your long-term plans for use, storage or repurposing with your design and fabrication partners and rely on their expertise to select the design, construction methods and materials that are most cost-effective and sustainable. 

Finally, protect your investment by budgeting for proper pre-event transport and post-event teardown and storage. 

Get the most out of your exhibition design budget with a single partner

The success of a modern, engaging exhibition project is in the details. Learn how a full-service design and fabrication company that manages every detail can deliver superior results on time and on budget. Schedule a no-pressure introduction to Bridgewater Studio today. We’ll customize a free project plan, so you’ll be set up for success from the start.



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