American versus Trade Show Dollars

Even though I’ve done a gazillion trade shows, I’ve never gotten used to the ridiculously over-inflated prices charged for stuff that a rational person would expect included. For example, last week’s operational expenses came to $1,394 for the three days. Here’s the breakdown:

6′ x 42″ undraped table$ 64.40
9′ x 20′ carpet$236.00
Two black diamond stools$236.40
Two bistro table$328.20
Vacuuming (200 square feet, once daily)$ 56.00
Handling crated stuff$102.54
Inbound transportation$237.30
120V, 500W (15A) outlet$ 71.00
Coworker waking up at 2:00 a.m., buck-naked in the hotel fountainpriceless

(Editor note: The last one is a joke* just to see if anyone’s paying attention!)

What this doesn’t include are the cost of the booth, the price we pay to participate in the show, or shipping stuff each way. Yes, grasshopper, the handling and inbound transportation is only for getting our boxes from the Fairly Universal Convention (center) warehouse to our booth cubby.

The furniture (and draping) fees are for rental, and the furniture is definitely used. For example, several of the little plastic dots covering the tubular structure of the chairs (so one wouldn’t be tempted to stick a finger in there — ewwwww) were missing and the table is… just a garden variety card table. Vacuuming happens, but with black carpet (also likely recycled many times), everything flake of dandruff and bit of paper shows up. Power is given via a really long extension cord coming down from the ceiling to which we network our array of power strips to drive two 20-W lamps, a monitor, and two laptops. An internet connection would have set us back another $400.

Comparatively speaking, this is more expensive than the show I went to in Austin. There, furnishings (10×10 space, 80″ back wall drape, 80″ draped table and two chairs) were included in the exhibitor charge. For additional fees, I could get an high-speed internet connection ($400), telephone ($170 + $0.18/minute for long distance), and electricity ($52.50). The Austin show’s attendance was substantially lower than the one last week.

(*Incidentally, the fountain thing happened at another show, very different company ten years ago. Ah, Tivoli!)

9 thoughts on “American versus Trade Show Dollars”

  1. If I had had more coffee before I started this, I would be making a really clever comment drawing parallels between your findings and the miscellaneous charges that one finds on hospital bills. But, alas, I’m not quite awake enough yet. Sorry.

  2. When I went in for my physical last year, there was a $190 charge from the facility that I think was merely for recording my weight, blood pressure … and processing forms.

    I dread havnig to deal with all the “six dollar aspirin” and othre hijinx you’re seeing with your mom.

  3. Was there an “outbound transportation” charge as well? If not, I apologise for having just given some evil twisted* trade show organiser another idea.

    *Is there any other kind?

  4. Yes, the charge for your tiny little fraction of a T-1 line is utterly and completely outrageous, isn’t it? And they charged you for vacuuming? I’m surprised there wasn’t a breathing charge for the airfilter life you and your coworker were using on the HVAC system 😉

  5. It’s only a matter of time until they charge for filtered air, toilet paper in the bahtrooms or three dollar bagels. Oh, wait, they already have the bagel enterprise going on.

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