To Rent or To Buy
That is the Question

All companies that exhibit at trade shows face one big question: Is it best to rent your exhibit or should you purchase it? The answer isn’t necessarily straightforward either. In order to determine which route is best for your company, there are many important aspects to consider including the pros and cons of each scenario.

The pros of renting

Exhibit rental has some significant perks. Companies that choose to rent enjoy a cost-savings on many fronts. With only a fraction of the upfront cost and no storage or maintenance, the cost-savings alone can largely sway the decision. Another big perk of exhibit rental is flexibility. You get a chance to try out materials and design/layout to determine what best suits your brand as opposed to locking in to one product/look.

The cons of renting

Renting an exhibit isn’t without some cons, however. When you rent, your exhibit may look different from show-to-show, creating an inconsistent brand presence. You may also have a limited selection of materials to work with and if you don’t reserve your materials way in advance, you run the risk of not securing the exact set-up you’re envisioning. Also, keep in mind that with exhibit rental it may be difficult to create the highly customized booth you want.

The pros of purchasing

Your next trade show will likely be many attendees’ first impression of your brand. When you choose to purchase your exhibit, you have complete control over your presentation – from the layout to the colors, materials and the unique features you want to include. You never have to worry about securing the materials for your show or conveying a consistent brand presence. And if you plan to participate in three or more trade shows, you’ll love the long-term cost savings that comes with exhibit ownership.

The cons of purchasing

Statistically, purchasing exhibit hardware costs three times the price of a one-time rental. If your marketing plan only includes one or two trade shows or if you’re just testing the trade show waters to see if you want to exhibit in the future, you are probably better off renting, at least initially. When you purchase, you also lock in to a design and layout. While that’s a perk for a well-established company looking for brand consistency, a younger company may regret locking in too early. It’s important to keep storage in mind as well. If your company doesn’t have ample onsite storage, in addition to maintenance fees you could end up forking over a hefty monthly warehousing fee.


  • Evaluate your budget and your storage space.
  • Consider your brand image: Is it well-established or changing?
  • Ask yourself how exhibiting fits into your overall marketing plan.

At Showcraft, in addition to selling custom exhibits and offering numerous rental properties, we also offer a hybrid approach. We successfully combine rental properties – reconfigured and reskinned – along with client-owned properties, for a custom look from show-to-show. If you’re interested in learning more about our products and services, you can contact us here!

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