Renting vs. Owning a Booth: Which is Really Better?

May 4th

If you only do a trade show or two every year or so, renting a booth makes perfect sense – less to spend, ship, and store. Once trade shows become a routine part of your marketing calendar, owning your own booth may be a smarter financial move.

Renting vs. Owning a Trade Booth: Which is Better For Your Company?

Renting a booth costs about one-third the cost of owning a display of your own. Thus, basic calculations tell us if you plan to attend more than three trade shows or exhibit-oriented events, it makes sense to purchase the equipment once and be done with it. Or does it?

What if:

  • You want to regularly change your configuration?
  • Your events have different booth size requirements or limitations?
  • A start-up company doesn’t have the expendable cash to invest in their ideal exhibit materials?

Exactly! The decision of renting vs. owning a trade booth is more complicated than a basic math equation. Here are are the factors you’ll want to consider:

Issues of Flexibility

If your exhibit is the same size and shape at every show, it makes sense to buy. However, your team may find it better to change the size/shape of the display based on the type of event you’re attending, the target market you’re trying to attract and so on. If you rely on flexibility, renting is probably a better and more economically feasible choice. Renting also gives you the flexibility to experiment a bit more, as you determine which exhibit components you like or work for you and which don’t.

Cost Effectiveness

The article To Rent, or Not to Rent points out that, “Startup companies may want to have a larger or more impressive exhibit to launch their brands but may not yet have the financial resources to invest in a large capital purchase like a custom trade show exhibit…” The same can be true for smaller companies launching a new product or service. Rentals give you the ability to go dramatically big. Then you can purchase your own equipment when you or the product(s) are more established and the exhibit can be scaled back a bit. On the other hand, if you invest in all the basic equipment you use regularly, you’ll have earned your money back after a few trade shows and will have the budget to spend on rental extras as you need them in ensuing year.

Other considerations include labor requirements for setup and cleanup, options and availability of the type of equipment you need, the costs included in a particular exhibit venue’s in-house rental options, etc. One thing we can advise for certain, use rentals for your first few trade shows, so you can get a realistic idea of your needs, ROI, and budget. After that hands-on experience, you’ll be able to determine whether renting or buying your trade show exhibit equipment makes more sense for your company.

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