New Survey Reveals Materials Handling Costs Continue to Outpace Inflation

April 15, 2024

While exhibition rates are more broadly aligning with inflation this year, specific areas, such as material handling rates, continue to outpace inflation, according to the findings of the Annual Survey of Exhibition Rates. The Exhibitor Advocate — a non-profit organization dedicated to providing industry stakeholders with expert advice, research and tools to amplify the voice of exhibitors — has released its latest survey that analyzes labor and equipment costs across 24 major U.S. cities.

This year’s report demonstrates that while corporate events continue to be a valuable sales and marketing channel, exhibitors are facing oncoming challenges that could influence their participation. For example:

  • Rising exhibitor-related costs are expected to force a redistribution of spending across events.
  • 82% of respondents said they plan to exhibit at fewer in-person shows, citing exhibit-related costs.
  • Three in four exhibitors are being pressured to cut exhibiting costs.
  • In the next three years, 94% of respondents expect some level of change to their exhibit programs.
Jessica Sibila
Jessica Sibila, The Exhibitor Advocate

“The industry’s sustained growth and success hinge on enhancing value for sponsors and exhibitors while also proactively reducing costs,” said Jessica Sibila, executive director of The Exhibitor Advocate. “Access to this unique data analysis is pivotal for all stakeholders in the exhibition ecosystem.”



Providing unique insights and actionable strategies that exhibitors, trade show and corporate event organizers and suppliers can leverage for strategic planning and cost management, the 2023 report was crafted in collaboration with independent show management and event solutions company Tradeshow Logic, supported by the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America and independently verified by third-party research agency EVOLIO Marketing.

This unique dataset underscores the industry’s need for a strategic approach to budgeting and advocacy for fair pricing, according to The Exhibitor Advocate officials.

Why it matters

Exhibitor Advocate report

For exhibitors, the survey can serve as a resource for budgeting and strategic planning, equipping exhibitors with the knowledge they need to navigate cost pressures, enable smarter allocation of resources across the entire event experience and optimize their investment to ensure a more substantial impact at every trade show.

Trade show and corporate event organizers can leverage the survey’s analysis to help them make data-driven decisions that cater to the evolving needs of their exhibitors, reducing exhibitor costs and enhancing the exhibitor experience and, by extension, the overall value of their events.

Lastly, the survey’s insights into equipment and labor costs across different cities enable industry suppliers to tailor their offerings more closely to market demands, ensuring competitive pricing and improved service delivery.

To provide a richer, more detailed understanding of the exhibition landscape, the 2023 report increased its scope to include “Expanded Scope of Services,” which incorporates forklift and hanging sign rates as well as commonly ordered show services such as carpet, furniture and internet.

To access the report, go here.


Don’t miss any event-related news: Sign up for our weekly e-newsletter HERE, listen to our latest podcast HERE and engage with us on LinkedIn!

Add new comment

Expert Profile
Partner Voices
Just when it seems like Las Vegas can’t get any bigger, brighter or more exciting for groups, MGM Resorts raises the bar again. The company continues to invest and innovate across its portfolio of Las Vegas resorts, with new attractions and upgraded experiences for attendees of all interests.  Remodeled Guest Rooms MGM Grand is the largest single hotel in the world with over 5,000 guest rooms and an 850,000-square-foot conference center. It is home to the newly remodeled MGM Grand Studio Tower—700 reimagined guest rooms with a fun mid-century vibe. Nearby, the iconic New York-New York Las more