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Q: Business and Financial Info for Starting and Running a Trade Show ( Answered,   0 Comments )
Subject: Business and Financial Info for Starting and Running a Trade Show
Category: Business and Money
Asked by: freshmochi-ga
List Price: $30.00
Posted: 25 Jul 2002 13:44 PDT
Expires: 24 Aug 2002 13:44 PDT
Question ID: 45122
What research information (e.g. papers, reports, expert outlooks,
trends, stats, etc.) is available to understand the business of
starting and running a trade show or convention?

It's for an entrepreneurial project I'm doing.  There are many websites
and companies that help people run a booth at a trade show (e.g.
designing exhibits, managing sales leads, etc.) but I'm looking for
info related to producing a trade show itself.  I'd like to know what
are the typical revenue and expenses look like, big risks, and general
industry trends.

Time: Before August 7, 2002

Your help is much delighted and appreciated.  Thank you!
Subject: Re: Business and Financial Info for Starting and Running a Trade Show
Answered By: arimathea-ga on 25 Jul 2002 14:14 PDT

Thanks for contacting Google Answers!

There's quite a wide body of information available with regards to
running and starting a trade show.  Most of this information is found
in books, but there are some organizations who serve special purposes
to new trade show owners.

The first piece of information I stumbled upon was an individual named
Michael Hough.  Mr. Hough used to be with Penton Media, and has
written a book called The Profitable Trade Show
(  He makes reference in this
fairly extensive website to a group called the Society of Independent
Show Organizers (SISO).   There's also a white paper linked off the
main page at

SISO's webpage is  They have a survey of
financial statistics for trade shows, as well as a host of other
information.  You may also be interested in organizations such as the
National Association of Consumer Shows (,
and the International Association for Exposition Management
(  Also, check out the TSEA,,
and it's list of sister organizations:

So now that we've covered professional organizations, let's talk about
publications.  Check out Expoweb,, and
which talks about factors in budgeting and profitability.  The site
has an excellent collection of links that speak to exactly what it is
you're trying to do.

There's a whole research organization designed for exactly what you're
looking for, too., The Center for Exhibition
Industry Research, has a number of reports on the subject.

Also, check out the Public Shows Companion, a publication marketed to

Good luck in your search.  Thanks for contacting Google Answers!


PS Search Methodology:

Multiple Google searches on related terms.  "Exposition management",
"trade show" and profitability, "trade show profitability", suppliers,

PPS.  I ran one of these several years back.  It was a very exciting
experience, but not for the faint of heart - the organization whom
sponsored the trade show lost tens of thousands of dollars.  Be
careful.  Very rewarding, though.

Yahoo! mentions several magazines in this industry:


Your best bet is to work with a show management company.  These
companies come in all shapes and sizes, and usually will help you work
through things like the financial viability of a show before you
engage them to set up the show itself.  They have plenty of experience
in these areas.

Request for Answer Clarification by freshmochi-ga on 09 Aug 2002 08:15 PDT
Dear Arimathea,
Thanks so much for your detailed answer.  For the past week, I've been
building from your pointers and are in the process of pulling together
an assessment, paying close attention to the financial factors.

A follow up question, in your research (or experience a few years
ago), did you come across any info on the key expenses of trade shows?
 Not only the line items but relative percentages.  e.g. operation
cost is 15 - 20% of revenue, promotion cost is another 10%, etc.


Clarification of Answer by arimathea-ga on 10 Aug 2002 06:53 PDT

Thanks again for contacting Google Answers for your clarification!

In short:  No, I did not.  The longer answer:  These expenses vary so
widely between trade shows of different types.  The biggest expense
for most shows will always be union labor, which is required at most
popular convention centers.  Secondary to that, the actual rent of the
space can be quite expensive, including the insurance necessary to
hold a show.  Everything else varies extremely.

People will usually pay what you ask them to pay if the show's content
is good.  This eliminates a large portion of the concern about
expenses.  The critical component that many shows do not do is budget
extensively and perform a lot of research.

Best regards,
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