At this point in our business history, we are really all being asked to do more with less. We have to know when to draw the line, but it all about saving and not spending to excess in these tight time.
I had a client ask me, for example, if I had to charge for the middle day of a three-day show on-site because the $600 was valuable to them. When I explained to them that that was cheaper than sending me home from Vegas for one day, the got that being cheap is not the same as being cost effective or efficient.
However, most requests are reasonable. If you can save a few hundred pounds to reduce the CWT of material handling and freight, that translates to hundreds of dollars. Be sure to make the mke-buy on rentals versus shipping/drayage on everything from chairs and tables to carpet. Depending on the location, it might be worth a few hundred bucks.
Keep in mind, too, if your exhibit house is amenable to it, that a firm-fixed price for a show (or series of shows) will not only save you money, it will make your budget predictable. However, don't get greedy: your exhibit company has earned the right to make a profit over the life of your show program. If they go under on a few shows and over on others, that means they are really breaking even. Don't expect FFPs and actuals in the same show year--it really isn't fair to the supplier.