Innovative Display and Design

Understanding the High Costs of Exhibiting in the US

The US is the world’s largest economy and presents vast market opportunities to international companies.  The GDP of individual US states are equivalent to that of a single country overseas. Many of America’s state GDP’s rank among the highest in the world’s economies.  This type of buying power makes the US a very lucrative market.

So why is it so expensive to exhibit in the US? It is typically four to five times more expensive than the cost of building the same exhibit in another country. While the economics of every country play a role in costs for services, products and labor, it is other factors such as segmentation of the industry and union labor requirements that drive up the cost of exhibiting in the US. 


Exhibit houses overseas handle the design and fabrication of stands internally. They have their own trucks for transporting exhibits directly to venues. Once on site, the exhibit house constructs their own exhibit versus hiring separate installation and dismantle (I&D) companies — a factor that saves money and often saves time as exhibit houses can install their own booth faster than labor crews.

In the US, the industry is more segmented.  Exhibit houses hire freight carriers to transport the booth to the show. Sometimes, the booth is partially constructed on the show floor to save installation costs. Upon arrival at the event, it is assembled by a labor crew – either an exhibitor-appointed installation firm or general contractor labor.

As there are multiple players involved, each with costs beyond the design and construction of the booth, the cost of exhibiting in the US is significantly higher than in any other country.


Unlike most other countries, I&D labor in the US often falls under union jurisdiction which adds additional costs to installation. Tight regulations govern union workers’ actions. For example, union rules stipulate total daily hours laborers can work, standard rates charged, when overtime rates apply, and when four-hour minimums apply (even if workers only spend an hour in your booth). Furthermore, labor unions often maintain exclusive control over certain types of work in various venues such as drayage, cleaning, rigging, decorating, running electrical wiring, etc. As such, this exclusive control drives up costs due to a lack of competition and alternative choices.

Working with an experienced exhibit house can help you control costs as we are most familiar with the nuances of the US market.

To make the most of your strategy and your international program, please contact Tammy Moyher, International Program Specialist at or phone 203.335.0633  x145.