We get this question all the time. Ten years ago, we would have said stay away from buying as renting would help save on overall shipping costs, minimize drayage, save on labor costs at the show and so on. There are another dozen reasons we would have given, but they don’t really all apply these days.
In the past, we would say that if you always had the same size (and orientation) booth from show to show, then buying is better. Most booths were hard wall structures and didn’t offer the flexibility to convert to different sizes and orientations.
Today, we would tell you that, “it depends”. And that’s not just the easy way out, it’s the truth. There are pros and cons to both sides. When we work with clients on exhibit properties, we ask a ton of questions to determine what is the best fit for their situation, budget and objectives.
Lighter weight materials such as aluminum extrusions and SEG fabrics allow for more flexibility to change from one booth size to another. These materials also offer the ability to save on drayage (material handling) costs for most shows. Some systems come with graphics pre-applied, saving time and labor on show site. With right-to-work situations and union rules scales back, in most cases, exhibitors can install booths themselves now.
We have one client that recently purchased their own booth to save on labor and on-going rental charges. We were able to convert that booth from its original 10x30 inline, to a 42x37 peninsula, to a 20x30 island, all while changing the overall graphic look. Their technicians install the booth themselves in minutes, literally. They also store and manage the property in their warehouse.
In another example, the exact same system was done as a rental for another client who didn’t want to use their own tech’s time to install. So we arranged I&D labor at the show.
There still are hard wall systems, double-decks and larger structures that can be used. Those create a different look and feel that some exhibitors want. The trade off is cost, needing labor on-site to install and possibly paying for storage costs (if you buy).
With the mix of options that are available for booths today, the options are endless. You can mix and match, whether it’s materials and structures or even renting and buying, at the same time. Some companies will rent their main structure, but buy smaller displays or signage that they can use from show-to-show.
So yes, really, “it depends”. Finding the right fit for your needs, budget and objectives can help reduce the headaches and uncertainties that come along with trade shows.