Custom Rental Exhibits are a Great Option

custom rental exhibitsWe need to talk.  Where should we begin……..when it comes to the trade show and event industry, perhaps nothing is more misunderstood and misrepresented than custom rental exhibits.   We know, we know, basic booths devoid of any real creativity or exhibit systems simply incapable of communicating the unique aspects of your brand right?  Rental Exhibits are the alternatives for exhibit and marketing managers who are not able to muster the budget to do a custom build maybe?    Or how about this one; you have several shows so renting doesn’t make sense financially.  The list of preconceived notions is too long to list here.  It’s a perception the exhibit building industry is invested in advancing, after all, exhibit companies are in business to design, build and sell exhibits right?   This is where Steelhead is fundamentally different from other exhibit companies.  That’s not the business we are in, quite the contrary actually—let’s explore how.

We view trade shows and events and moments in time; moments where you and your company have a captive audience and the opportunity to differentiate yourselves from the competitors around you.  Thus, we design trade show exhibit environments specifically for those 3 or 4 days, moments if you will, to optimize that significant opportunity.   When the next event comes around, we collaborate with you about how to best approach what’s in front of us.   It’s difficult to see how designing an exhibit for a show two years away makes sense for our customers, any exhibitor for that matter.  Ownership is not an objective for Steelhead customers, execution is.  Renting, which is actually a financial, not an exhibit term, is how Steelhead’s clients execute their trade show strategies at the speed of the marketplace.  

So why are more and more exhibitors moving away from exhibit ownership and toward an expense based tradeshow program by renting their exhibits anyway?  Well, there are two sides of the coin so to speak.  The first is on the financial side so we will start there.  To buy a custom exhibit, your company has to deploy a large sum of money up front and then use that exhibit over time- and that’s just where the cost of ownership begins.   Most companies will account for such a large expenditure by capitalizing the “investment” on the balance sheet, then expensing it through depreciation over 3 or 5 years.  Confused yet, don’t worry, many marketers are not well versed in the financial maze, you just want a new exhibit right?  Here is what is important to know about this, your accounting department will expect you to use the booth you bought over the course of the depreciation schedule- so long as the exhibit is “on the books”, they want you as a marketer to leverage that “asset” say for 5 years.  But the purchase was just the beginning remember?  You will have to add to your budget a host of ownership costs. Annual storage, handling costs for each show and refurbishment are all expenses that are in addition to the original cost to purchase.  Renting on the other hand allows your company to pay as you go, enabling your CFO to deploy precious capital to other priorities.  Oh, and those other costs- the exhibit storage, handling and refurbishment, those do not apply when you are renting.  Those can be significant dollars which can now be used in other areas of your exhibit program.   It’s really about flexibility more than anything; the ability to develop strategies on demand versus committing to an exhibit strategy for 5 years simply because you have to use a booth you purchased.

The second side of that coin is the creative side.  When you buy an exhibit, you were initially engaged in the design process to create that particular booth.  After which the booth is built and you are off and running on a 3 to 5 year path as we discussed in the section above.  Do you really want to offer your customers and prospects the same booth experience year after year after year?  If you do, then buying an exhibit makes sense.  Steelhead’s clients however, are engaged in the design process for each event, for each event represents a unique opportunity with varying markets or audiences.  This approach allows our teams to collaborate and try new things for each event.  The tactics and design elements that work great can be used at the next show and those which do not deliver as we intended can be changed.  Which way sounds more fun?  Which way do you think is more effective for a marketer such as yourself?  Perhaps you have always used private conference rooms, but maybe we can try a lounge experience. Exhibit design is more than just cabinets and theatre towers; rather, it is the driving force behind the experience you deliver to your audience.  It makes sense then, that we approach each trade show with the design process leading the way don’t you think?  If you have rented in the past and have had a difficult time finding really cool and creative solutions then it’s time to give Steelhead a shot. 
See, we told you we needed to talk……..


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