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Why Renting Your Trade Show Booth is Better Than Purchasing

At first glance, many prospective exhibitors believe that purchasing their trade show exhibit is superior to renting their exhibit – reasonably so, based off the common stereotype that rentals are supplemental, shoddy, and “cookie-cutter”. When it comes to a place of living, many people would agree that they’d rather have a purchased home over a rented one, because of the endless customization a purchased home can offer. Believe it or not, this is the exact opposite when it comes to your company’s trade show booth.

Imagine you need clothing, and have $500 to spend. You go to the nearest department store and spend all of your money on one high-end, high-quality, designer outfit. It fits you well and is the quintessence of your current style. There’s only one problem – it is the only outfit you own. The next day, you show it off proudly at work and get a handful of compliments. Soon, though, the glamour fades. You find that the outfit is inappropriate for many occasions (yes, people are wondering why you’re wearing such fancy clothing to the grocery store), and as time passes, the outfit becomes old, dirty, typical, and boring. You notice it doesn’t fit you as well as it used to; you start to dislike the outfit’s style, and yearn to be on the cutting edge of fashion like when the outfit was first purchased.

You look back and realize your mistake – rather than buying one expensive outfit, one that would eventually lose its style and glamour, you should have bought five $100 outfits. That way, you would have had much more flexibility in your wardrobe, you’re style would be consistently how YOU want it, and above all, you wouldn’t be known as “the person who wears the same thing every day”. Additionally, because you still spent $100 for each outfit, you would not have compromised the quality of your clothing for the price, as you originally anticipated.

The keyword is flexibility. Similar to purchasing the five outfits over one outfit, renting your trade show booth over purchasing it provides this flexibility for your company for years to come.


Three reasons why trade show booth rentals and custom trade show displays are better:


In the words of the Greek philosopher Heraclitus, “The only constant in life is change”. Whether good or bad, it is inevitable. With that said, it is only logical to utilize resources that can adapt easily to the unavoidable changes. When a company on a budget purchases a customized trade show booth, they are forced to make design and layout decisions that are essentially set in stone. In other words, they are buying “one nice outfit”. Sure, the purchased booth can be altered, but that comes at an expensive price – an issue which will be discussed later.

With an exhibit rental, the power is in YOUR hands. Your business’s branding may change with the demographics from show to show, new products, promotional items, new logos and graphics, or just as time passes; the flexibility of a rental means it can change as the branding changes, for a fraction of the cost. Remember to keep it dynamic and unique. “The same, typical design is appealing to the eye,” said no one ever.


Your expensive designer outfit may fit PERFECTLY when it is purchased… but what about when you gain fifteen pounds? It will not be as flattering and you will have to either pay for alterations or, even worse, not go out in public until it DOES fit. Similarly, when you purchase a booth, you are ultimately buying one size in hopes that the booth will always fit your company well. Each trade show is different – many expos will not have availability for your booth size.
Suppose you decide to fix this problem by buying a small,
manageable booth that can fit into virtually all tradeshows. This is great, except for one problem: your booth will forever be stuck in the small, “off the beaten path” spaces, preventing your company from standing out, obtaining leads, creating clients, and expanding its business.
When it comes to spatial needs, rentals are, by far, the best option. Because the structural pieces of the rental belong to the exhibit house, it is easy to alter the layout of the booth itself, as well as the square footage and height. Simple changes in the booth schematic make adaptation to the trade shows seamless and headache-free. Nobody likes a headache.

As important as the points above are, we both know that cost is a major deciding factor in the decision to rent versus purchase a booth. Becoming an exhibitor can be a wonderful asset to your company’s growth and getting the best “bang for your buck” can greatly maximize profit. A common misconception that companies often believe is that purchasing their booth will save them money in the long run. This would be true if the costs of ownership weren’t so extensive – booth owners are often blindsided by the necessary and expensive fees they didn’t expect to incur. Some of these fees include:

  • Initial investment – This is an unavoidable expense for a purchased booth. If you want to buy something, you need to pay for it. That’s just the way life goes.
  • Storage costs – Let’s say a company attends 6 three-day shows in one year. Their booth is on display to the public for 3 show days, plus 2 setup/dismantle days, and 10 to/from show shipping days (a wide margin, to be safe). Multiply these 15 days by 6 shows and you have 90 days of usage. That means the trade show booth will be in storage for the remaining 275 days that year. Owning a booth means paying for this storage yourself. Storage costs are minimal or nonexistent for rentals, because the parts belong to the exhibit house. Small fees may incur for custom graphics or pieces storage.
  • Maintenance costs – The cost to restore damage or wear-and-tear to a purchased booth is the OWNER’S responsibility. Renting a booth means that any cosmetic repairs are addressed by the exhibit house. If the exhibit house is reliable and legitimate, the client will not have to worry about any scuffed-up parts coming from them.
  • Refurbishment costs – No matter what, changing the design or style of your booth will cost money. Again, that’s just the way life goes. But, with the money saved from avoiding the initial investment, storage costs and maintenance costs, refurbishment will be a viable expense in a renter’s budget. Not to mention, it is much easier to redesign a rental than a purchase (referring back to the fact that “nobody likes a headache” in point 2).
  • Individual show costs – Each trade show costs money to exhibit at. Many times, renters can get a deal through their exhibit house for attending more than one trade show with their rental. In between these shows, the rental can be kept in storage at the exhibit house for a small fee, and when the contract is up, the renter can choose to exhibit at more shows or leave without a monetary obligation to the exhibit house.


It is time to move past the common stereotype that a rental is of lesser value than a purchase – at least, for trade show exhibits. Renting a booth offers the power of flexibility to a business, without breaking the bank like a purchase can. With endless customization options available, trade show display rentals can absolutely feel like a purchase, without the cost of ownership. Instead of having to maintain the presence of your booth show after show, you can rely on a rental to represent your company flawlessly, every time. Purchased booths will eventually become obsolete, and selling the booth comes with a disappointing return. Stop the company’s losses before they happen, and RENT your next booth!

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