Skip to Main Content

Trade Show Dilemma – Build vs. Rent

Making Headlines

Trade Show Dilemma – Build vs. Rent

Trade Show Booth Mockup Trade Show Display Rentals | ExhibitusHaving an enticing booth is the most important factor when it comes to being successful at a trade show. If your exhibit doesn’t pull people in, then it doesn’t matter how good your products and services are, because no one will stop by to find out.

To compel and engage target attendees, you need a custom trade show exhibit that will properly showcase your brand and your messaging, but should you build or rent one? Which is better? There is no universal answer to this question. There are both perks and downfalls to purchasing or opting for trade show booth rentals. What is best for your company will depend on your needs and capabilities.


Exhibit rental is a great way to have an adaptive and convenient approach to show participation, especially if you are just starting a trade show program, or you attend only a small number of shows each year. Choosing an exhibit from a rental portfolio doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice style, since you can add graphics that highlight your brand. Modifying the look and messaging before each show will help you find the approach that is the most successful for your company.

Another advantage of renting is that you don’t have to spend as much money up front. You also won’t have to worry about cost of ownership fees, such as storage and maintenance after the show is over.

While a rental is a great option, there are some things to consider. It’s not yours, so you will have to invest money in architecture every time you need an exhibit. Additionally, you must continue to communicate your changing desires and needs with a design company before each show.

Build to Own

The best thing about owning an exhibit is that it can be built to meet your company’s specific needs.  It definitely costs more upfront, but the cost can be expensed over a period of time, depending on your company’s accounting policies.

If you store the exhibit with the custom house that built your property and, therefore, is familiar with the way it was constructed, maintenance is simplified.  It’s a lot easier to commit to additional shows during the year if you already have a booth that reflects your company’s brand.

Owning a booth comes with its own challenges. The upfront cost is more substantial, and you have to be concerned about upkeep and storage between shows. Also, most companies only build a new exhibit every 3-5 years. So if branding or product-focus changes significantly, it may be difficult to adapt the exhibit to fit the current need.

Which is Right for You?

Making the right decision in purchasing versus renting an exhibit is normally correlated with how established you are in your trade show strategy and your corporate objectives for you program. If you are experienced and comfortable with a certain style, owning could save you a lot of money in the long run if you don’t need significant changes for each show.

Conversely, if you’re still figuring out what works best for your company, it would probably be in your best interest to take advantage of the flexibility rentals offer. The other important factor in the decision-making process is how large of a budget you have to work with. If you don’t have enough money to get the job done right, rent until you do. A cheap booth will be noticeable and will not be the lasting quality you need.

Whether building or renting, having the right design partner is essential. Exhibitus is an award-winning design company with an entire division committed to evaluating results to make sure your booth is impacting your bottom line. Contact us today for help deciding whether building or renting is best for you.