Top Pros and Cons of Renting an Exhibit: What You Need to Know

Big decisions require careful planning and research. Make sure you have the facts straight before renting or purchasing a new custom exhibit for your next trade show.

Trade shows play a vital role in marketing campaigns. The most important business happens face-to-face between people we know, trust and like. Deciding on the right exhibit is no easy matter. So, here are some of the top pros and cons of renting an exhibit to consider.  

But first, understand how an exhibit generally supports trade show marketing objectives. For example, how does an exhibit help gain more leads for the business? The answer may surprise you.  

Rory Sutherland is a behavior economist and author of numerous books including Alchemy: The Dark Art and Curious Science of Creating Magic in Brands, Business, and Life. In that book, Mr. Sutherland makes the point that a flower is simply a weed with an advertising budget. This is what he means.  

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Most behavior economist theories are based on evolutionary principles. Over hundreds of thousands of years, flowers have learned they have better chances of survival if they attract more bees. The bees will then take their pollen and spread their seeds along the way. This principle is called signaling. Male Peacocks do the same thing when they spread their tail feathers to attract a mate.  

In a similar fashion, a company’s advertising and marketing materials are not just a method to promote products and services. It’s a way to signal to prospects that they are trustworthy and can deliver on their promises. And that’s why it matters that you put your best foot forward at trade shows. So now, here are some tips.  

Top pros and cons of renting an exhibit 

Rental exhibits offer many benefits, but they also have some disadvantages when compared to owning an exhibit. One of the biggest questions marketing directors faces is whether renting or owning an exhibit will best suit their trade show schedule and goals for return on investment.  

On the one hand, keeping costs low in the short term with a rental allows them to safely test new markets or ideas. On the other hand, it can add to the burden of logistical upkeep.

Here are some of the pros and cons below.  

Pros and Cons of Renting an Exhibit

The pros of renting 

At first glance, the pros paint the picture that renting is easy and non-committal. And for the most part, that’s true. The biggest value in renting is speed, cost savings, and flexibility.

For comparison, the pros for purchasing include not needing to worry about speed (because you’ll be locked in with the same exhibit for years), a greater likelihood of making a good return on investment each year, and stability. You won’t need to plan to create new designs for every show.

Save money 

The cost of renting an exhibit can vary widely, depending on the size and type of exhibit you need. However, in general, renting a custom exhibit costs a third of buying one. This can be a great way to save money if you only need an exhibit for a short period of time. 

Another potential benefit of renting an exhibit is that you may have access to a wider range of exhibits than you would if you were buying one outright. This can give you more flexibility in terms of the types of exhibits you can display across multiple shows.  

Overall, renting an exhibit can be a great way to save money and have access to a wider range of exhibits.  

A fast solution 

Today, marketing directors must be experts in multiple channels, both digital and physical. Things slip through the cracks. Budgets get slashed. Timeframes get warped. While it’s never ideal, a rental exhibit could save the day.  

Of course, if the need is too immediate, you risk attending a show with the “rental look.” By that, we mean a half-baked exhibit theme and copy-and-paste design. But for the most part, rentals can perform wonders.  

This is an example of a rental exhibit with strong design.

Design flexibility 

People attend shows for two main reasons: to keep up to date on industry trends and discover new products. What’s the similarity between both? They share the same emphasis on newness.

By updating your booth every year, you can create the sensation of constant upgrades and new things to see. This is a strategy for bringing new and old prospects to your booth.  

This flexibility can be a big advantage if you’re not sure what kind of exhibit you need or if your needs might change over time. It’s also helpful if you’re working with a limited budget and need to be able to adjust your exhibit accordingly. 

The cons of renting 

As with anything, there are a few potential drawbacks to renting an exhibition space. First and foremost, renting is typically more expensive in the long run than owning or leasing, especially if you attend multiple shows a year.  

Repeat design process 

Yes, renting gives you the flexibility to change your exhibit design from one event to the next. But that also means communicating with your exhibit house often to make updates.  

If trade shows are not the main source of lead generation for the marketing department, it may be worth purchasing an exhibit. A booth purchase allows for a “set it and forget it” mode, which means you have more time to spend generating leads elsewhere.  

When you’re making your decision, weigh all the factors carefully and consider what will work best for your business and where you are at the moment.  

Risk the “rental look” 

This is something you want to avoid, per the opening paragraphs of this blog post. A custom exhibit is the ideal manifestation of the brand. It’s where all brand elements come together for the prospect to see. This includes logos, colors, staff, and personality.  

May not be the best long-term strategy 

It’s important to consider where your business is in the marketplace. If you occupy the mid-market, the focus might be maintaining a presence at multiple shows while cutting costs. If you’re an industry leader, you’re the one setting the trends and pace. If you’re a startup, a bigger exhibit may be necessary to make a splash in the industry.  

We hope you enjoyed the top pros and cons of renting an exhibit. Still need help deciding which route is best for you? Contact one of our design staff to explore your options.  

The Trade Group is a full-service trade show and event marketing company. We will work with you to create an exhibit or an event that brings in leads and helps you achieve your business goals. Contact us here or give us a call at 972-734-8585. 

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