When it comes to planning for a trade show, starting your exhibit design process can be the most challenging part of it all. You can choose to purchase and store your own booth or rent an exhibit with custom components, such as graphics.

Before making your decision regarding renting or buying, you should assess the following:

  • Budget
  • Exhibit frequency
  • Strategy testing
  • Trade show locations
  • Company goals

Here are six questions to ask yourself before moving forward with your exhibit selection process:

Should I Rent or Should I Buy1.      What Is My Budget?

Owning an exhibit can be a large capital expense that typically costs 4 times more than renting. On top of the price tag associated with purchasing an exhibit, you will need to consider how you will store your display. Exhibit storage fees typically start at $2 per month per stackable square-foot or 35 cents per month per non-stackable cubic-foot.

It’s estimated that ongoing repair of a purchased exhibit after each show can total 3 to 5 percent of the total value of the exhibit. With rentals, there are no ongoing costs of ownership, such as recurring maintenance, warehouse handling, monthly storage fees and insurance premiums.

In contrast, turnkey exhibit rental packages bundle exhibit hardware, shipping, furniture, A/V, graphic production, flooring, installation and dismantle. Offering bundled packages not only helps make the exhibit process seamless, but can also offer you significant cost savings.

Lower Budget: Rent

Higher/More Flexible Budget: Buy

2.      How Often Do I or Will I Exhibit?

If you exhibit once, twice or only several times a year, renting your exhibit will be your more affordable option. Plus, renting will allow you to occupy different booth sizes at different shows, rather than be limited to the fixed size of your purchased exhibit.

If you are a frequent exhibitor and attend shows on a month-to-month basis, you may find it more affordable to purchase your exhibit and work with an I & D company, like our sister company – TS Crew – to handle set-up, dismantle and logistics.

Once, Twice or Several Times Per Year: Rent

Frequently (5 + Shows Per Year): Buy

3.      Do I Want to Test New Strategies?

If your company A/B tests its marketing strategies, you may find it beneficial to test new trade show strategies as well.

Everything from your booth location to booth size, signage, collateral and messaging can be tested. You can also test your exhibit layout, hardware, graphics, furniture and lighting. That said, we recommend renting if you are a frequent tester.

If you’re ready to make a longer-term commitment and do not see a need to test different exhibit strategies, purchasing your booth can be a great option. Plus, owning a booth can decrease the amount of time you send working with designers and planning your exhibit layout.

Test New Strategies: Rent

Limited Testing: Buy

4.      Where Do I or Will I Exhibit?

After answering how many events you attend or plan to attend annually, you’ll want to map out the geographical location of each show.

If you exhibit within one state or region, the transportation costs associated with owning a booth and shipping your hardware to a show can be affordable.

If you exhibit nationally, like in Las Vegas, Orlando, New Orleans and Chicago within one calendar year, you may find it more beneficial to rent your exhibit to avoid expensive freight shipping.

Within a State or Regionally: Buy

Nationally: Rent

5.      What Are the Company Goals?

What are your goals when you attend trade shows? Is it to arrange meetings, capture leads, sell a product or network?

If you are trying to capture leads for a specific product, renting an exhibit may be a good option because renting makes it easier to change your featured product and messaging. In contrast, if you want a branded space to coordinate meetings, buying an exhibit may be a better option as branded spaces don’t need to be updated regularly.

Lead Capture/Product-Specific Space: Rent

Arrange Meetings or Networking Only: Buy

We get it – Deciding whether to rent or buy your trade show exhibit is a tough decision to make. At Trade Show Supply, we specialize in both custom exhibits for purchase and turnkey exhibit rental packages. Our Exhibit Specialists are happy to discuss which option is best for your company’s needs, budget and goals. Click here to view exhibit samples or contact us today to get speak with an Exhibit Specialist!