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Renting vs. Buying

Determining if you should rent or own your trade show booth is an important decision — and there are many things you need to consider beyond price point. Is your company rebranding soon? How many trade shows are you attending? Do you want the same booth for every trade show? How large of a booth are you looking for?

Your situation requires careful consideration, to ensure you are making an economical, sustainable choice that makes sense for your company today and into the future. Review the pros and cons below and start planning your next booth rental or purchase. Remember, deciding whether to rent or own a booth requires careful consideration, and we’re here to help you every step of the way.

Pros and Cons of Renting vs. Buying Trade Show Exhibit Displays:



  • You can change the branding on your booth with ease.

If you foresee your company going through branding changes in the near future, you should consider renting. You can always add different graphics to a booth, but if you want to change the layout of your booth to go along with rebranding changes, renting will make the transition much easier. Renting your booth gives you the benefit of a temporary booth until you are ready for your rebranded permanent solution.

  • Enables you to be flexible when attending multiple trade shows on a tight budget.

Renting gives you the option to have multiple booths in different locations at the same time rather than paying the full price of having two separate booths. If you have a trade show you are going to in the beginning of April in Chicago, for example, and you have another show the following week in Los Angeles, the turnaround time would be near impossible.

In this case it is easier for you to rent two separate ones than to buy only one and risk it arriving at a show late.

  • You can experiment with different floor plans.

If your company is exhibiting at multiple trade shows with different floor plan spaces, purchasing a booth will make it hard for you to accommodate varying sizes.
Renting gives you the option to reconfigure your booth to different booth spaces. If you have a 10×20 space in Las Vegas and a 10×10 in New York, renting makes it easier for you to accommodate the changing exhibit spaces. Renting two separate booths gives you significant flexibility when dealing with multiple show spaces and budgets.

  • You can avoid liabilities.

Owning your booth will lead to considerations such as, maintenance, storage, insurance, and disposal fees. When you rent a trade show booth, you are only responsible for shipping the booth back to the exhibit house.

  • It’s easier for you to meet rules and regulations.

When going to multiple trade shows in a year, you can experience different rules and regulations depending on the show. Renting allows you to adjust your booth to those rules, for example renting makes it easier to manage a variety of height restrictions.

  • A cost effective option, especially if your booth is a 10×10.

The bigger and more complex your booth becomes, the higher the price is. When your size expands beyond 10×10, the buying costs typically begin to outweigh the renting cost.


  • You are limited to the amount of customization you can do.

If you are wanting a booth that is completely original and 100% customizable, it will have to be created as a purchased booth. An exhibit house cannot create a custom piece on a rent-only budget.

This is because exhibit houses typically make rentals out of prebuilt elements. Your rental booth can be customized with graphic elements, but not with special components such as art hanging signs or a special display features. 

  • Creating your booth may be limited to the inventory available in the exhibit house’s warehouse.

When exhibit houses are creating booths they typically use structures they already have in their warehouse. If there are not enough structures available for what your booth requires (especially during trade show peak season), they may not be able to create your rental booth with the exact pieces you envisioned.

  • Your booth might have minor wear and tear because it is a rental.

Rental booths are created from frames and structures that are being reused. Over time these frames will show slight wear and tear. Make sure you pick an exhibit house that has strong quality control so that your rental booth will look brand new.



  • Perfect for going to multiple shows, if you don’t change your design.

If you have the same floor plan at all of the shows your company exhibits at, and you don’t change the design of your booth (excluding graphics), then it is more cost effective to buy. Exhibitor Online provides the following explanation for this type of situation:

“If you built and purchased a $100,000 exhibit and used it at three shows within a year, you would then own the exhibit property and therefore could use it for the next four years of its depreciable life and only incur ongoing expenses. But if you rented the same property for $34,000 per show, at the end of the first year, you’d have paid approximately the same $100,000, but would have no exhibit to use in years two through five.” 

  • More cost effective if your booth is larger than a 10×10.

With the amount of structure and engineering cost that go into a larger space, it makes more financial sense to buy a 10×20 or a 10×30. It’s less expensive to put up a pop-up 10×10 than a 10×20 hard wall booth, because as booth size increases so do labour and electrical expenses.

  • Your booth can be 100% customized.

When you purchase your booth it is truly all yours! You can customize each and every detail to your liking, without many restrictions that are implied to booth rentals.

For example, if you want a one of a kind hanging structure, or a unique display for your products, you have the options to have these pieces developed to your specifications.


  • You can incur ownership expenses.

Owning a trade show booth comes with extra costs. These costs include monthly storage, insurance, repair, refurbishment, and any reprints that need to be done over time. According to Exhibitor Online:

Ongoing repair of a purchased booth after each trade show can total approximately 3 to 5% of the total value of the exhibit.”

  • It can be expensive if you have a smaller budget.

If your company does not have a large marketing budget for trade shows, buying a trade show booth might not be the best option because of the high initial costs.  

  • Your booth will look the same at every show.

This may be a con, depending on who your audience is. If you have the same booth at every show, your audience might be less intrigued to stop by your booth. People like things that are shiny and new, and the same goes for exhibits at trade shows.

A hybrid program, where you use both rentals and purchases for your exhibits, might be the most beneficial option for your company. One of our clients is currently enrolled in this type of hybrid program. They go to multiple shows a year, and own one booth to go to their standard shows, and then rent additional booths for the shows they want to have a different look and feel for. With this program, you also have the flexibility to add rental pieces to your purchased booth if you have an increased amount of floor space at an upcoming show. Ultimately, the hybrid program gives you the best of both worlds!

Know whether you want to rent or buy? Let’s start the design process! Get in touch.

Are trade show booths easy to set up?

Some portable booths are designed to easily be set up in minutes by one person without any tools. Other portable booths may require a bit more work, but they are still fairly easy to set up. Any booths that are not portable will require professional hired labor at the trade show event for set up and tear down.

How much does it cost to have a booth at a convention?

The cost for renting the booth space at a trade show is about $100-$150 per square foot. Once you factor in other expenses such as the cost of your trade show booth, marketing, giveaways, shipping, and material handling fees, you should expect to pay about three times the cost of the booth space

Is it easy to ship booths?

If you get a portable booth, you can easily ship your booth using any ground shipping service such as UPS or FedEx. If your booth is not portable, you will have to ship via freight which is a bit more complicated and costly.

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