We’re about to fly off to do two major conventions tomorrow and it’s a bit scary in someways. We’ve thrown a bunch of cash at it already, so at this point it’s mostly a sunk-cost but that doesn’t mean it’s not a big bet. We’ve never done Regina before and the costs involved is very high, especially when it’s not a (mostly) sure bet like Calgary. We’d love to try Toronto one day but getting into the show is a bit of a struggle – they are booked up so fast, even on the waiting list, we still aren’t able to get in yet.
Conventions outside your main city is always expensive. There’s no way around it as you tack on a series of additional cost that aren’t present in local conventions. Among the additional expenses:
- Travel costs. This is not just the ticket but also the travel time of your employees (in Canada, you have to pay for the hours traveled at their regular rate)
- Accommodation costs. Yeah, everyone needs a place to stay. Also, a side hint for business travelers – AirBnB is becoming quite, quite useful for budget travelling especially if you prefer to cook for yourself.
- Transportation costs. That’s transportation from the airport to your accommodation and back and of course, to the event itself if you aren’t staying in walking distance.
- Freight costs. You’ve got to get your products there somehow. Figure anywhere from $300 – 700 per pallet.
- Insurance costs. Depending on your insurance, you might need to get an additional rider (or just a separate insurance package) to cover your tradeshows / conventions.
- Opportunity cost of lost shows (a bit more hard to quantify, but in our case, we’ve got our stock out of the warehouse for a good 3 weeks at least).
On top of that, you have all your usual costs too:
- Staffing costs
- Table / booth fees
It’s what makes most organisations decide not to do conventions, or in some cases, just do conventions. There’s also a lot of economies of scale involved in doing conventions outside of your province. If you are shipping a pallet for example, the cost per pallet goes down the more pallets you add. If we are staffing, there’s no real difference in staffing 2 booths to 3, while 4 booths only require a marginal increase in hours. However, if you are a small or new business, losing 2 or 3 valuable staff members at your main location can be a major issue.
For us, we’re not a large organisation so putting out all this money and taking myself and Elise out is a big bet. If you’re in Calgary or Regina though and read the blog, come say hi. We’ll be working hard but promise to at least give you a smile.