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Tradeshow Strategies: Is an Exhibit Rental Right for You?

Tradeshow Strategies: Is an Exhibit Rental Right for You?

Tight budgets and hyper-competitive marketing environments, all while trying to improve product sales and make your brand stand out, are just a few of the many challenges faced by today’s exhibit/event managers. Dr. Suess should have written a book, Oh, the Challenges You Will Face! to provide a little extra motivation toward getting us to the places we all need to go.

In the exhibits world, we know budgets are fixed and before we can even get to the fun stuff, 35 percent of our budget goes to purchasing floor space. If we don’t create an inviting atmosphere solving these challenges, thousands of potential customers will walk by a slab of concrete. So there are a lot of decisions which go into making and maximizing the budgetary dollar.

One option that we likes to offer relates to examining the pros and cons of incorporating rental exhibits as a component of your broader strategy. Rentals may make sense based on your individual approach but you need to evaluate your plans and goals before any decisions are reached, something we do regularly with our clients. Answering the following questions will help determine which strategy may be best for your company.

Do you only exhibit at one or two shows per year or does your program involve multiple shows annually? When your tradeshow schedule has only a limited number of shows, renting may make sense. While purchasing a custom exhibit allows maximum flexibility to create a unique space, the costs associated with ownership must be considered. For starters, you will need to store the exhibit during down time, either at your location or your exhibit company. The cost of refurbishing and updating the exhibit for each tradeshow can total approximately 20 to 50 percent of the total value of the exhibit. Furthermore, when you do decide to retire an older exhibit, disposal fees are an additional cost, a cost many fail to consider when purchasing.

Do the shows overlap or are they conveniently spaced out? If your industry clusters shows closely together, owning exhibits may require you to own multiple. Considering the cost of ownership noted above, this can be a budget killer. Renting allows you to participate in multiple shows allowing you to focus on marketing strategy rather than exhibit logistics. Plus, you get the advantage of covering all of the major events at a more reasonable cost.

Is your exhibit focused on brand building, marketing specific products or both? If your company has a specific marketing strategy that carries over to all the shows you participate in, producing and owning a single exhibit may be your best option. If, on the other hand, your company has different goals at specific shows or promotes different products at multiple shows, renting allows you more flexibility to handle each challenge. If you’re creating brand awareness at one event and displaying large products at another, the exhibit required may be very different.

Does the booth size vary from show to show or are you consistently purchasing the same size space? You can purchase custom exhibits allowing you to participate in multiple-sized spaces, but this adds to costs as displays need modular components you can use independently. As different shows bring in diverse attendees, you may require a different look to appeal to that market or to display different types of products. With renting, it’s easier to pick the best available space at a show knowing your exhibit options are more flexible. If you run into limited space availability, renters have the option to add a double deck structure increasing their floor space when it’s required. Finally, if your company is growing, renters have an easier time of increasing size without adding additional capital expenses to their books.

Is your corporate culture one of maximizing cost of ownership by using the same exhibit for multiple years or is it important to change the look and feel of the display after limited uses? While some companies are comfortable with a consistent exhibit for multiple years, others believe change is important to gain attendees’ attention. Renting your tradeshow exhibit gives you flexibility to evolve your presence after only a few shows or even from show to show—including booth size.

Does the company allow for capital purchases? A new exhibit requires a large initial cost related to building your tradeshow exhibit. Does your company have the budget for a new build and will there be room for a replacement when the time comes? With rentals, there is no initial investment making it much easier to get a new look and you should have more room in your budget to put toward larger spaces while customizing the exhibit with high-impact graphics.

Overall, renting is a beneficial strategy when used correctly, and something we find we’re suggesting more often to our clients. If your company exhibits at multiple shows each year with the same exhibit, renting your tradeshow booth could end up costing you more money than owning. But, creating a truly unique exhibit can be more challenging when you’re renting. Plus, rental exhibits may not always be brand new, and may, at times, show some signs of wear and tear. You will also need to plan ahead to ensure the rental you require is available. But by knowing the limitations and the benefits at the outset, you may find that renting may be just the thing you need to help take your company or organization to the next level.



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