It’s no secret that trade shows are expensive. Within a set budget, marketing managers have to plan for travel costs, pre-show marketing materials, booth staff training, and countless other items. But for many teams, the biggest ticket item is the exhibit itself.

In the past, event planners were forced to shell out hefty sums of money to buy a booth. Today, more and more marketing pros are choosing to rent their exhibit because it’s more affordable, and gives them the flexibility to change their design whenever they need to.

As you consider renting vs. buying, compare how each stacks up financially. You’ll probably find that a rental offers your brand a lot more for a lot less.

How Much Is a Custom Booth Rental?


Custom rentals don’t have a set price. Why? Because rentals have the capacity for extensive customization that can have a big impact on pricing. Instead of a flat fee that covers all possibilities, you’ll only pay for the features and exhibit elements you want.

Price Range

Having said that, you can expect basic exhibits to start as low as $50/square foot. More elaborate exhibits that include special features, like second floors, can climb to over $200/square foot. In general, pricing per square foot tends to go down as your exhibit gets bigger.

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Compared to Booth Ownership

In general, a booth you rent is far less expensive than a booth you buy. Typically, rentals cost 70% less than owned booths. And that’s just for the cost of the booth itself. When you add in the price of additional services, like shipping, handling, and storage, that price differential is magnified.

Other Financial Considerations


Beyond the high initial cost of a purchased booth, there’s a laundry list of other financial details you should evaluate as you consider renting vs. buying:

  • Refurbishment 
  • Storage
  • Insurance
  • Shipping
  • Handling Fees
  • & more!

Long-Term Commitment

Most brands that purchase a booth commit to using the same design for three to five years to offset that initial cost. The thing is, dusting off the same exhibit year after year is a recipe for stale marketing. As a marketing manager, you wouldn’t use the same marketing strategy for five years in a row, so why would your booth?

A custom rental is less expensive so you can afford to exhibit a design that’s as dynamic as your marketing efforts and reflects your budget right now, not in five years. 

Additional Fees

When you buy a car, the sticker price doesn’t reflect all the money you’ll ever spend on that vehicle. You’ll have to pay for oil changes, maintenance, car washes, insurance, and sometimes bigger expenses if you get into an accident. The same goes for a booth you purchase. You’ll be responsible for shipping, handling, storage, and maintenance when something breaks down.

With a rental, all those additional items are wrapped into your rental price. This way, you’re not left with a booth but can’t afford to exhibit. Plus, rentals can come with additional perks, like on-site support, so you can focus your attention on having a great show, not managing labor teams or troubleshooting A/V problems.

Opportunity for Guaranteed Pricing

The company you buy a booth from might guarantee the price of your booth, but they can’t guarantee the price of all of the exhibit’s associated costs. Why? Because they don’t provide those services. 

When you buy a booth, you have to deal with maintenance, storage, shipping, and handling fees. You pay labor teams to set up and tear down your booth, and you pay for any revisions you need to make to the booth because of rebranding efforts, or changing marketing goals.

With a custom rental that includes all associated services, you can demand guaranteed pricing. We always offer guaranteed pricing to our clients that includes shipping, handling, storage, and maintenance, as well as our full on-site support. We believe guaranteed pricing means just that, a guarantee that you’ll pay one fee for everything related to exhibiting your booth.

It’s our belief that buying a booth doesn’t make financial sense for anyone, ever. Find out why by checking out our white paper: 3 Pitfalls of Owning a Trade Show Exhibit.

Download Your Free Resource

3 Pitfalls of Owning a Trade Show Exhibit

Download Now
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