How much do exhibition stands cost? 💰

Table of Contents

  1. What affects your budget
  2. Sample brief
  3. Shell schemes
  4. £10k – £15k stands
  5. £20 – £30k stands
  6. £80k – £120k stands
  7. Final considerations

In this post, I’ll be cutting through the sales talk, side-stepping the marketing hooks, and hopping off the fence to give you a straight-talking answer to the one question I’m asked more than any other – how much do exhibition stands cost?

When clients ask me “how much do exhibition stands cost?”, my job is to help them formulate a budget based on their ambitions for the show. To do this, we discuss the following questions…

1. How are you planning on using your stand?

This will dictate the layout and assets required in the space. For example…

– A food or drink company might need a store room, sampling station, refrigeration, wash basin, or even a means of cooking on their stand.

– A technology company who are promoting its digital asset may require several freestanding or wall-mounted touch screens and demo stations, along with a subfloor to hide any messy wires. 

– A service based company may require a space which is geared towards educating customers, and therefore requires comfortable meeting areas, a coffee station and an attractive means of displaying their literature. 

2. What kind of space have you booked? 

The size of your space can dictate the design layout of your stand, and the budget needed for materials and installation. Needless to say, as the size of your space increases, a greater investment is required in elements such as flooring, lighting, wall structure, graphics panels and furniture. 

Shell scheme stands by nature cover a smaller area, and therefore act as the most budget-friendly means of exhibiting. In contrast, a space only stand opens up further design opportunities which has the potential of increasing the required investment. Depending on whether your space only stand backs onto another, or is an ‘island’ with no surrounding walls, the design and budget will be affected by how much wall structure and printed graphics is required.

3. Is this a one-off show, or one of many?

Clients seeking a stand to exhibit at a singular show will likely benefit from hiring many of the assets from their stand builder. Assets such as counters and product displays can be wrapped in the client’s unique branding, whilst flooring, screens, chillers, lighting and wall structure are more budget-friendly if hired rather than purchased.

Equally, if the client plans on exhibiting over several shows, purchasing some of these elements and having them stored by their stand builder, will work out to be a better long-term investment. In this situation, the investment for future shows can be greatly reduced as the majority of the required assets are already purchased, and it’s just the installation / de-rig and a project management fee that are required. 

4. Self-assembly or install

A large part of the budget when exhibiting goes into the installation and de-rig of your stand. If your stand consists of lightweight and portable solutions, then self-assembly is a clear path for you. However, most exhibition stands require the skilled knowledge and experience of a dedicated installer. This investment is worth every penny, and not only opens up the potential of a higher quality of stand, but also allows you to rock up on the day of the show, completely stress-free, safe in the knowledge that your stand is already up and looking its best.

5. Budget

At this stage in the conversation, we can discuss the budget that the client has assigned to their stand. It might be that the client doesn’t have a budget at this stage, but based on what we’ve discussed, I can provide a ballpark figure of what’s needed to meet their ambitions for the stand and the show. It allows me to manage expectations, and look to maximise the potential of what they’d like to spend.

Tony and Will installing La Vie stand Lunch 23

How much do exhibition stands cost?

With all of the above information in mind, I can form an initial brief to communicate to our design team. The basics of this brief may read…

Stand type – Space only, 2 walls and open on 2 sides

Stand size – 5m x 4.5m

Use of the stand – Education-based, meeting area, storage, and large screen required

Additional notes – Installation and de-rig required. Stand assets to be hired for use at a one-off show

Budget – Approx £15k

Below are 3 design tiers that illustrate what can be achieved based on the above brief. Each iteration features the same level of build quality, as you’d expect from Graphic Mill, but by designing a stand bang on budget, one comfortably under budget, and one slightly above, it offers different levels of visual impact, giving the client options and a clear understanding of how their budget can be maximised.

Tier 1 stand, £8k – 10k approx investment

Tier 1 exhibition stand

Tier 2 stand, £12 – £15k approx investment

Tier 2 exhibition stand

Tier 3 stand, £15k – £25k approx investment

Tier 3 exhibition stand

Differences between the above tiers include the introduction of taller walls, illuminations, a custom counter, a sub floor to aid cable management, and architectural features such as the banner surround, all helping to increase the stands premium feel.

Shell schemes

As mentioned before, shell scheme stands are often an overall more affordable investment and are ideal for first-time exhibitors. Here are four examples that illustrate what is achieved with budgets of between £3.5k – £8k. This includes project management fees and the complete build, installation and de-rig of the stands.

The following two stands fall into a £10k – £15k pricing bracket. They are larger space only stands that were used for sampling, education and meeting new clients.

As we enter into a £20k – £30k budget, we start to see upgrades that elevate the stand to a higher level. In the below two examples, a greater wall height, ceiling boxes, free-standing touch screens to compliment wall-mounted AV, rear-illuminated stand-off logos, illuminated counters and podiums, as well as real wood panelling add to a more premium aesthetic.

At the £80k – £120k investment level, you see a greater emphasis on custom-made elements to fill a much larger space-only stand. The below examples show features that are present in lower budgets, plus the added bonus of bespoke literature holders, iPad stations, wall artwork, uniquely branded flooring, and architectural elements that will stand you apart from the competition.

Here are a few more points to keep in mind when calculating your budget for a show. 

Exhibiting overseas?

Shows such as ISM, Anuga and InCosmetics see us travel to Europe each year to build stands for our clients. The main consideration here is the increased investment required to navigate the logistic fees associated in couriering your stand assets to and from Europe. With this in mind, £15k should be put aside for just the logistics and installation.

Additional venue fees

Don’t get caught out by extra charges your venue may charge. For example, electrical fees can cost £200 + VAT per 500W socket, whilst rigging fees to hang graphical elements above your stand can add an extra £1k+ to your investment. 


If assets used on your stand have been purchased, you’ll need to consider how you’re going to store them between exhibitions. The most convenient option is to use a stand builder who also offers storage, allowing them to easily transport your assets back to their HQ to be checked over, refurbished if necessary, and then rolled out at your next show. Graphic Mill offers storage solutions at just £40 per square meter.  

how much do exhibition stands cost

Hopefully, this article has shed some light on what can be achieved with various levels of investment. If you’d like to start a conversation about what Graphic Mill can do with your budget at your next trade show, get in touch for a free design proposal and quote!