Exhibiting 101: Should You Rent Or Buy Your Next Exhibit?

Rent or Buy- 20x40 trade show rent display units

This is the second in a series of articles about the basics of exhibiting that began with the first post of the New Year.

For decades, companies turned to exhibit houses to purchase a trade show display. That was just the way it was done.

Then some unknown but clever businessman came up with the idea of renting trade show booths, instead of buying. Turns out, there are many advantages to renting your booth, depending on your circumstances.

This article will guide you through your decision making process by pointing out the pros and cons.

The Pros Of Renting Your Next Exhibit:

 1) Your accountant will thank you

Because purchasing a booth is a capital expenditure, its cost must be depreciated over time. Renting is a one-time charge your accountant won’t have to keep tracking in the budget for several years. And renting is a much smaller initial investment.

2) You’ll have more room in the warehouse

When you rent an exhibit from most booth suppliers, the cost of shipping and storing it is included in the rental fee. That means you won’t have to find a place to put it or keep storing it after you’re finished with it. Renting gives you turnkey convenience, and keeps maintenance and repair costs low.

3) You’ll look different at your next show

From show to show (or year to year), you can completely change the look of your exhibit by renting it. Any time you want, you can choose new pieces from rental stock and overhaul the exhibit’s appearance or change its layout or size. Once you’ve bought an exhibit, you’re stuck with it for some time.

TF 405 Curved Hybrid Table Top Display

TF 405 Curved Hybrid Table Top Display

4) It’s custom at a lower cost

There was a time when all rental exhibits looked simple and shabby. But today’s booth rental market is largely made up of custom displays that have been returned to the exhibit house by the companies that purchased them. Out of this inventory, you can achieve a custom look at a lower price by assembling different parts and pieces.

5) You can look bigger than you are

When you rent display units, the cost is much cheaper per square foot than custom. So you can afford to create a larger exhibit from rental stock, making your company look as large as your competitors—even if you aren’t.


The Cons Of Renting Your Next Exhibit:

1) You’ll pay for it in the long run

Renting actually turns out to be more expensive over time. You’ll have paid for the cost of a custom booth after renting for three to five shows.

2) It may not be there when you need it

Since you’re renting pieces out of an exhibit company’s inventory, someone else may want one of those pieces at the same time you do. That can be a problem. By owning, your exhibit is always there when you want it.

3) There are fewer design choices available

Even though many rental pieces are custom used trade show displays, their appearance may be dated. Tastes in exhibits change just as often as fashion does. Also, the finishes (laminates and veneers) may not be as elegant as you’d like them to be to support your brand. You have to be happy with the trade-offs.

4) They’re expensive to accessorize

Whether you rent furniture and accessories from the exhibit company or from show services, you’ll be paying a high price for trade show chairs and tables. Plus, your options will be limited to basics—nothing fancy. Here’s another area where availability can also be a problem. When you own your accessories, there are no limits.

5) Incorporating graphics can be tough

Face it: a rental booth was meant to sell someone else’s brand. So you can run into trouble when you try to incorporate your own graphics. Whatever you already have won’t fit, and your logo or other graphics may not be ideal for the rental booth’s identification areas.

Eurofit Curved iPad & Lit Stand

Eurofit Curved iPad & Lit Stand

Summing It Up:

As with any decision, there are competing priorities that affect your choices. Maybe you’re a new company wanting to make a splash, or you want to try out different booth configurations. Testing the waters like this is an ideal way to make use of a rental booth.

Another concern is the number of shows you participate in. If you exhibit more than three times per year, it begins to make dollars and sense to own, rather than rent every time.

There may be times when shows that are important to your company overlap. Or perhaps they are so far apart that transporting the same exhibit to both shows is impossible. This is a time when a rental booth can save the day, covering Show B while your primary exhibit is at Show A.

Also consider your short-term versus long-term goals. Owning your booth gives you consistency for up to five years (the average lifespan of an exhibit). Renting keeps your options open, but at a cost.

And speaking of cost, another way to weigh your options is to consider the length of your commitment versus the cost per show. Clearly, the more often you exhibit, the less expensive owning your exhibit becomes. Meanwhile, the cost of renting rises over the same period.

Here’s another consideration: when you rent your exhibit, your emphasis has to be on your product or service rather than your booth. The rental booth will be somewhat less effective in telling your story than a custom exhibit would be. S0, when you rent display units, you should consider graphics—or even a product demo area—that can help communicate your product’s story to booth visitors.

Whether you’re looking to rent or buy, American Image Displays has an impressive line of modular components to create the booth of your dreams. We can provide the dynamic look of a custom booth, or the turnkey convenience you get with rent display units. For details and information, call (800) 676-3976 or email [email protected].

For more, check out our article on reasons to attend trade shows or our tips for trade show newbies.

See full list of Exhibiting 101 articles here.