Exhibit Rental or Custom Build - The Best Option for You

Exhibitors have so many options for their booth experience. It can be hard narrowing down what’s best for your brand.

Sometimes it makes more sense to rent than to buy. Maybe you have a short window for turnaround in terms of design and set-up, or maybe you don’t want to handle all the little details to make sure your booth is ready to go when the door opens.

Perhaps you have been spending so much renting at multiple shows per year that you will save by investing in your own properties.

Exhibit Rental or Custom Build - Which Way to Go

Which option makes sense for you? Both renting and buying have pros and cons, so let us break it down.


Why Use Rentals

Why Use Rental

  • Company size and budget constraints. If you are a SMB (small business) or start-up and only attend 1-3 shows per year, you are likely working within a confined budget. Renting will help your dollars stretch further. Rental properties include both the physical structure, flooring, furniture, and more.
  • Flexibility.  Renting provides exhibitors the ability to change booth design, layout, and size as needed. Renting also offers less commitment when adding or subtracting exhibit properties and accessories, allowing you to change themes more frequently. Pro tip: You can rent accessories for your custom-built booth. We in the biz call it a hybrid.
  • Concurrent Shows - Avoid schedule conflicts and/or tight deadlines when you exhibit at more than one show at the same time. Sometimes your properties need to be in two places at once. Rather than buying an extra counter, why not rent one?
  • Unusual Booth Size or Requirements – For a significantly larger or smaller booth size which is not expected to repeat, or one-time requirements (like a big presentation stage,) it may make sense to rent – at least some components.
  • Consolidate Fees - Usually when renting properties, the provider is including any warehousing, labor, and other miscellaneous fees in your overall price. There may be added discounts and bundles to help further consolidate fees. 
  • Maintenance - Wear and tear is almost always a certainty every time an exhibit booth is deployed. Renting gets you an exhibit that looks new at every show. You also avoid refurbishing and repair fees.
  • Environmentally Conscious - Re-use of rental properties is eco-friendly. Also, you avoid any potential disposal or recycling fees. 


Why Custom-Build Your Exhibit?


Perhaps you are considering if it’s time to invest in your own custom-built booth and team to help manage your owned properties. Here’s why that might be the best route:

  • Volume - If your company is attending more than 3 shows per year, it may be time to start considering an investment. Purchasing your exhibit properties will allow you to maximize your spend across the portfolio of shows. Bonus, you can use propping and graphics to change the booth look and feel from one show audience to another.  
  • Visual Impact – Custom-designed exhibits allow for more creative freedom that  may achieve a much greater visual response and draw more attendee attention and foot traffic. Custom builds often appear to be of higher quality materials and more sophisticated design.
  • Brand Consistency and Recognition – Going custom allows you the freedom to create your exact vision, allowing for precise brand standards and recognizable features. The look, feel, and colors of your custom exhibit are tailored to order. For example, a custom booth may have your logo fabricated in an interesting way which allows for quick recognition on the show floor.  
  • Return - Displaying your business with a custom booth greatly increases the chances of a return on your investment. The greater initial cost you have invested in a custom exhibit may possibly pay great dividends for years to come. Various requirements and configurations are figured out at the front end, minimizing design and engineering costs for subsequent uses. Careful consideration goes into how the properties are crated, using cost effective materials and minimizing required assembly work.
  • Broad Use of Properties -When custom-building your exhibit, think about all the use cases and outline the various footprints you will need. The right partner will be able to build you a modular booth that can be used across a variety of footprints. For example, maybe one month you have a 20x20 and the next month you have a 20x40 footprint. A custom-built booth is able to account for both shows and provide brand consistency across the portfolio.
  • Dedicated team. If you are attending multiple shows per year and managing several booth experiences, the added value of a trusted partner is vital. Picking the right partner and team gives you peace of mind and hands to help when you need it most. It’s a crew of experts who eat, sleep, and breathe your program, from concept to creation.
  • Cost Savings – Custom exhibits are a great option for U.S. and global exhibiting programs. Domestically, properties are generally shipped from one location to another, resulting in significant savings on shipping and handling. If your program is international, make sure to select a global partner who can help navigate logistical challenges. Set-up drawings are created for various configurations and re-used (or modified), saving on CAD drawings. Labor crews become very familiar with the nuances of the properties and brand teams/agencies know what to expect and are able to multi-purpose graphics.


Creating a great experience on the show floor is about the details. Weigh your options and figure out what structure makes the most sense for your needs. Whether you are renting something that feels custom or custom-building to invest in your exhibiting program, you have the power to create a great experience.


About the Author

Lyndsey Lumpkin

Lyndsey supports GES’ Exhibits line of business driving innovative marketing initiatives. Before joining GES, Lyndsey cultivated an expertise in Loyalty, CRM marketing and B2B sales growth at Brierley+Partners, expanding their marketing efforts and growing their market presence by developing an ongoing pipeline of opportunities. In her free time, she’s a dog mom of two and loves cooking, reading, and binge-watching TV.

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