How to Manage a Trade Show New Build

Table of Contents

So, you’ve been tasked with managing your first new build. You’ve received approval from management, expectations are high, and you got what you asked for and all that’s left is to deliver.

Now what?

You don’t have to do it all alone. Finding the right exhibit house to partner with will take a lot of the legwork and process uncertainty out of the way. A great exhibit house brings event marketing expertise to the table and operates as an extension of your marketing team to guide you every step of the way.

The best place to start is with understanding the process of fabricating a booth, along with key milestones to ensure a successful project.

Key milestones include:

Procurement Approach

It’s important to understand the role procurement plays and how major purchases are made in your organization.

Have you ever worked with procurement?

What is the decision-making process?

Understanding your company’s process will give you a guide for success.

Creative Brief

Once the budget is approved, how will you be relaying information to your partner to get started?

We recommend using a trade show specific creative brief to get everyone, internally and externally, on the same page. A creative brief will help you establish your trade show specific goals and encourage you to think about your messaging and show presence.


In selecting an exhibit house, it’s important to think through the process.

Will you be issuing an RFP?

Are you involving several companies or just one?

If multiple, what is your selection process?

If you are using an RFP, use a Trade Show New Build FRP Template to get started.

Construction Drawings / Fabrication / Artwork

For this milestone, these are all decisions that will be made during the fabrication process. It’s important to understand who in your organization will approve these items.

Do you have someone on staff who is familiar with construction drawings?

For artwork, this aspect is typically aligned with a re-branding initiative or marketing campaign. If you work with a design agency, it’s important they are aligned with your fabricator. You’ll need to have periodic review of the artwork, digital assets, and then provide final approval. Think about any industry or legislative parameters and who on your team is responsible for final sign-off.

Client View

The booth is built, the artwork is approved, now it’s time to view the booth in person. Conducting a walk-through will help your team understand scale and ensure all technical aspects are tested prior to show debut versus testing on the show floor, which could save you money in the long run.

There are a few more things to consider for a new build, however. Understanding the process and ensuring there is buy-in and responsibility throughout it crucial.

Think about:

The Importance of Trade Shows

It’s crucial to get buy-in from your organization of not just a dedicated budget, but the time commitment and support required from internal teams. Your job as the key point person is to educate the organization on what is involved—and what you need to be successful. It will require focused energy and attention for several months. Not ready for this? Consider pursuing a rental booth instead of a new build.

Budget Expectations

There are two types of budgets: operating and capital.

Capital budgets are typically for assets that will be depreciated over a number of years. They are usually used to fund owned property new builds and often require CFO approvals.

Operating budgets are for departmental needs and projects and may only require approval from the executive over that department. They are usually used for booth rentals, pull & prep of owned property, new graphics and smaller refurbishments.

Need help justifying trade show spend? We can help!

Not sure where to start with a budget?

Here are a few ways to create yours:

  • Use your past exhibit costs and add for inflation
  • Talk to your fellow industry professionals about their budget
  • The Experiential Designers & Producers Association took an industry survey in 2018 that cited $165 per square foot as the industry average for trade show costs

There is much to consider with a new build, but the effort is certainly worth the reward with a strong partner who can bring your exhibit booth dreams to life.


Subscribe to Exhibit Concepts Blog

More to explore