The economic collapse of 2008 left no industry unscathed,
but among the hardest hit was the U.S. automotive
industry. The Big Three automakers saw sales and
revenues fall off dramatically, while companies
that supply the industry shared their pain. Among
them is German conglomerate the Bosch Group, a
manufacturer of consumer and commercial goods and
industrial technology, which operates an extensive
auto parts business worldwide.
With the forecast
for U.S. auto sales declining, the leadership of
Bosch US decided to take a cautious approach to
budgets for 2009, including cuts to its U.S. trade
To address the budget cuts, Scott Jameson, Manager
of Tradeshows and Events for Bosch US, has been
working with The Tradeshow Network Marketing Group
and his other trade show vendors to find creative
ways to cut expenses without undercutting Bosch’s
strong competitive position in the market.
still in the process of reconfiguring his budget
in January, he settled on the following strategies for
- Concentrate on shows that demonstrate a significant
- Reduce booth space where possible.
- Substitute lighter weight or less expensive exhibit
- Eliminate less-productive sponsorships and hospitality
Last year, Bosch US exhibited at some 150 shows.
This year, Jameson is evaluating each show to make
sure it generates sufficient sales. He plans to concentrate
on customer shows held by major auto parts distributors
throughout the U.S. to keep Bosch products in front
of customers. He may consider cutting back on some
of larger industry shows, but he knows that he needs
to maintain a high visibility level at the industry-wide
events to maintain Bosch’s image.
to be careful what you back away from,” he
observes. “The competition will take advantage
of your absence to spread rumors.” Instead of leaving
shows entirely, he intends to cut back on the amount
of exhibit space where appropriate and use lighter weight
materials such as fabric panels and lighting, rather
than heavier components, to save on both freight and
set-up costs. He says it’s all about exhibiting
smarter and determining what is really needed to make
the right impression.
Chris Roberts, President of The
Tradeshow Network Marketing Group, adds the following
strategic recommendations for tradeshow managers who
need to cut budgets this year without sacrificing market
Move to an online show management system.
- Use rental exhibits rather than
building new custom exhibits.
- Reduce fees by negotiating with show managers and
using smaller exhibits.
- Obtain competitive bids on exhibit storage, shipping
- Move each exhibit to a lower-cost storage facility
after a show.
This type of online show management system, helps tradeshow
managers work more efficiently by providing online access
to the entire exhibit inventory and the ability to submit
orders for shows electronically. For exhibits it stores,
catalogues all exhibit components and graphics with photographs
and detailed data, along with the client’s annual
show schedule, at no charge. Although setting up the
system takes time at the start, the online capabilities
yield considerable savings of time and money in the long
Roberts also recommends that exhibitors consider
using rental exhibits, rather than investing in a large
custom booth, to save money. The cost for a turnkey rental,
which includes the exhibit, graphics, set-up and freight,
can run as little as 25 to 30 percent of the cost of
a new custom exhibit. Rentals can be a particularly good
option for any company that booked a large exhibit space
and planned to build a new exhibit before the financial
downturn hit. A rent-to-purchase program that applies
the rental fee toward the purchase of a new booth, should
you decide to do so in the future.
If you’ve already
contracted to exhibit at a show, chances are good that
the show will not let you back out without forfeiting
your exhibitor’s fee. However,
Roberts suggests that you negotiate with show management
to downsize rather than cancel entirely. The show manager
may be willing to work with you to keep your company
as an exhibitor by allowing you to take a smaller space,
which can reduce your overall costs. Roberts agrees that
eliminating shows to save money now can hurt your company
in the future if the market perceives weakness. He suggests
that you ship smaller, lighter weight booths and use
portables that your own staff can set up to save on labor
and shipping costs.
Roberts also encourages tradeshow
managers to put their trade show storage and management
services out for competitive bid. The larger exhibit
companies tend to have higher storage and service fees,
which can add up year after year. For example a major
food service firm, was able to offer savings on two options
for revamping their aging custom 50 x 30 booth. By reconfiguring
their existing booth, the savings would amount to $50,000
a yea r. By using a rental exhibit with custom graphics,
the company would save nearly $90,000 per year.
decide to make a move to a new exhibit storage facility,
Roberts suggests that you wait to move each exhibit to
the lower-cost storage facility when it is scheduled
to come back from a show to avoid incurring extra costs
for freight. However, it pays to consolidate your exhibit
storage and services with one firm to make keeping track
of your exhibit properties both easier and less expensive.
“By taking a strategic approach,
it is entirely possible to cut your budget without losing
your competitive edge.”
About the Author:
A leader in selling trade show displays (custom,
modular, and portable), marketing, storage, rentals,
services & online trade show management.