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Trade Shows: Rental vs Purchase

Your boss has been kind enough to volunteer you to run and oversee your organization’s trade show(s) program. Your marketing and product teams have been instrumental in coordinating and providing you with all the necessary criteria needed for the show(s). Now comes the big question. Do I purchase an exhibit booth, or do I rent? The answer to that question depends on several factors such as your budget, the amount of shows you plan on attending, the various locations, and their respective venues, etc.

As a rule of thumb, when I sit down with new clients to discuss their exhibiting needs, I want to first understand who they are so that we can develop a strategic path that works best for them. The best analogy I can think of when it comes to explaining RENTAL vs CUSTOM is the purchase of a business suit from a store vs a custom tailor shop. At the tailor, you pick your material and they alter and modify to your liking and build, while at the store, you are limited to buying what’s on the rack. If you are new to exhibiting at trade shows, then I usually recommend you begin the process slowly with a cost-effective rental solution and test the waters so to speak. Try out various shows and walk away with valuable information and data, and learn from the experience. If you are planning on attending numerous shows, a custom rental solution or full custom exhibit might be the better option.

First, let’s start with RENTALS. A rental exhibit consists of existing assets that your exhibit/marketing partner has available. Usually consisting of modular components such as aluminum extrusions, walls that can reconfigure to various sizes and shapes. Some even have custom manufactured counters and assets that are available to rent. For example, at PURE, we have both rental walls and some custom manufactured assets available for rental. Rental Exhibits tend to be more cost-effective but have limitations as they are existing and sometimes limited to manipulating their look and feel. At PURE, we can get creative with these properties, especially with rebranding and color matching to your brand and messaging as shown below in some of our examples. With a rental exhibit you have the advantage of not having to pay for storage, wear and tear, and sometimes even shipping costs, depending on location and availability. We value the big picture and make the best suggestions and recommendations.

If you are looking for a more unique look, a custom rental solution might be your ticket. These types of exhibits combine rental and custom assets to provide a more cohesive and professional look that is more on brand. Sometimes, clients have a unique element(s) that represents who they are, like a hanging sign or a bookcase as seen below with FROST Bank. You might want to have custom features in your exhibits that are consistent with a certain look and feel. They represent your brand or story, or a piece that’s common in all locations, so you can build a custom piece and mix and match with existing rental assets and components.

If you are looking to make a splash at a show with a WOW factor, a custom solution or PURCHASE might be for you. It’s the ultimate trade show product for promoting your brand, products, and services. If your trade show program consists of multiple shows per year, a custom solution might also be a more cost-effective cohesive solution than renting a booth for every event. They can be modular and be able to convert to various configurations. It’s by far the finest choice for you and your brand. Custom exhibits are generally pricier, and they come with quality materials, allowing creatives to explore innovative forms and shapes, which make them a more engaging, dynamic, and exciting overall experience. They generally come with crates for protection of all your assets, so you do have to consider storage costs with this option. With custom builds, endless possibilities for captivating your audience exist as they are perfect for narrating your story and/or messaging. When done correctly, custom exhibits are an investment that can represent your brand for years to come.

Regardless of your choice, always remember that an exhibit booth, when designed and produced correctly, is an investment, not a cost. With PURE professionals by your side, we will help guide and navigate you through all the pitfalls and make a sound judgment when it comes to RENTAL vs. PURCHASE.