A new study by the Center for Exhibition Industry Research puts a price tag on the value of exhibitions.

CEIR’s Cost Effectiveness of Exhibition Participation study determined that it costs about $215 to make an initial face-to-face contact with a customer at an exhibition. Included in this cost is exhibition construction, storage, exhibit space, transportation, salesperson salary, travel, and entertainment, according to the report, conducted for CEIR by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Travel and Tourism Center at the University of South Carolina. To make that first meeting with a potential customer in the field without an exhibition lead it would cost about $1,039. Breaking it down, the researchers found that it costs an average of $596 to contact the prospect in the field and $443 to identify the prospect prior to the sales call.

Also, about two-thirds of survey respondents agreed that fewer sales calls are needed to close a sale with an exhibition lead, while 63 percent agreed that exhibitions assist in gaining or retaining market share.

Further, the average respondent exhibits at about seven shows per year at a total annual cost of $153,763. On average, those surveyed said they see about 20,000 visitors at their booths each year.

The researchers culled the data from interviewing 214 sales and marketing managers from companies across all sectors with annual sales of at least $50 million.

Part two of the survey will be released in April. To read the survey, go to CEIR’s Web site.