Should I Rent or Buy my Exhibit?

Many Exhibit Managers are often confronted with the question, “should I rent or purchase my booth?”.  While there are arguments for both, we are going to dissect here today why rental should be considered when running an effective face to face marketing program.  With the increased cost of transportation and raw materials, rental exhibits make more sense now than ever.  Read further below for our guidance on rental exhibits…

An international rental allows you to project your brand across the globe. This stunning booth at CPHI WorldWide 2019 was a rental!


As a general rule of thumb, a rental exhibit will run about 30-50% of the cost of owning the same exhibit (not including design services, show site and other ancillary services common to any exhibit whether it’s rented or purchased).  Generally if you’re going to use the same rental properties more than three times you’d likely consider ownership.  However it goes deeper than that!

With any rental exhibit there are virtually no other “cost of ownership” fees such as storage, booth prep, inventory management and more.  The exhibit house is doing this all for you at no added cost (in most cases) because you actually don’t own anything but the branding/graphics that were developed for the rental exhibit.

Additionally and more importantly your exhibit dollar goes quite a lot further with a rental than a purchased exhibit.  Companies with strict or limited marketing budgets can stretch their dollar a bit further with rental.  You can project the same eye-catching look in a rental for a fraction of the cost.  On the show floor your rental can project your companies branding and image as equally as “the big guys”, who may have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on their booth.  Other savings are realized through reduced (or zero) repair or refurbishment costs, and in some cases transportation costs as your rental exhibit may come from a strategically located facility near your show venue.


If your exhibit house is looking out for your long-term interests and (hopefully they are) and overall effective program management, then they should be designing your rental exhibit to fit your changing space needs as well as your budget.  Rentals offer the added flexibility of not being tied to any one particular layout for a given show.  Exhibit designers can see future needs with you and drive the design to meet different show layouts and needs, and even re-purpose graphics and branding to be re-configured for those needs.

Another great use of rental is “duplication” of shows.  From time to time many exhibitors have events occurring simultaneously and their owned exhibit properties aren’t available for both events.  Rental solves that problem easily and also reduces the risk and wear and tear of cross-shipping exhibits from show to show without proper care and inspection.

Trade show booth for Paychex at SHRM 2021

This rental exhibit from SHRM 2021 for Paychex was designed to allow them maximum flexibility for several space configurations.

Ease of use

Making the decision to rent versus buy is one that can only be determined through due diligence to see what fits the best for many organizations.  Many exhibit manager’s want to hand off their show site responsibilities and let their exhibit house manage the details.  With any exhibit, show site logisitics are just as important as the booth itself.  Rental furniture, A/V, lead gathering are all integral to a successful event.  Your exhibit house should be offering to handle all related logistics so you can focus on your real job, growing and promoting your companies brand in other areas that most marketing folks are responsible for.  After all trade shows are only a part of the picture, but an important part!