Why It’s Time to Untether from the Old-School “Rent or Buy?” Question

May 3, 2022

The key to planning and executing modern trade shows and marketing events has less to do with ownership, and more to do with the freedom to create a knockout experience.

If you’re reading this, chances are you’ve spent some time in your career as a corporate event planner researching and responding to the question, Should we rent or buy our company’s trade show exhibit?  

Over the past several decades, brands have had options available for designing, planning, and building their trade show exhibits. Every exhibit provider brings something different to the partnership. There are vendors that specialize in rental exhibits, ‘build and burn’ exhibits, built-from-scratch plywood and laminate exhibits, and everything in between.  

The promise from “custom” exhibit houses is the creation of a stunning, yet functional exhibit unique to your brand. And while this upfront promise is alluring, what’s hiding beneath the shiny surface is the cost and burden of exhibit ownership: the storage, the repairs, and the disposal after a few years of use.  

If your company owns exhibits, imagine what you could do with those “hidden” dollars freed up to allocate toward experiences your clients and prospects will actually benefit from?! Storage fees aren’t exactly wowing your audience.  

We are passionate about creating experiences for the moment, and no two should be the same. That’s why we believe that no company should own an exhibit, ever.  

If this sounds like a radical departure from what you’ve been taught in the events world, we are here to shake up this outdated thought process. By building our business upon Access Model principles, we’ve partnered with over 80 brands to deliver unique, memorable experiences that are:  

  • Fully customizable
  • Flexible for marketing budgets (no massive upfront “investment” in a new build)
  • Better for the environment  

When we first met them, most of these brands were not initially seeking “rental” exhibits. Rather, through a series of discovery engagements, we helped them uncover what’s most important for their brand’s event marketing strategy. What we found is when brands are deeply committed to delivering exceptional experiences that are a unique imprint for each trade show or event, AND they care about things like sustainable exhibiting, the Access Model is the best fit.  

Here are a few questions we suggest to help form alignment with stakeholders in regards to your marketing budget and strategy for trade shows and corporate events:

  • What’s going on at the moment with my brand?  
  • Where are we headed in the future?  
  • How can I tailor our exhibit with experiences that matter at each specific show?  
  • What are the top 5 things I must have from my exhibit partners to make each event successful?  
Notice, the question Should we rent or buy? isn't on the list ;-)

The answers to these questions are a huge part of the collaborative approach we take with our event marketing clients. Knowing how to mine for quality information as to what defines a successful event for each individual client helps to establish trust as much as it reveals ways for Steelhead to provide solutions beyond an exhibit structure. An exhibit structure that you don’t have the burden of owning, might we add!  

As always, we are here to help our corporate event marketing friends. If you’d like to do a little brainstorming with strategizing for your next event, schedule a brief 15-minute discovery call with one of our event marketing experts.

May 3, 2022
October 3, 2023
Subscribe to Receive the Latest Steelhead Resources