Building your exhibit strategy: Rental, Purchase, or Hybrid

Building your exhibit strategy: Rental, Purchase, or Hybrid

By Skyline Exhibits

How do you know whether to rent or purchase an exhibit is your best option? When making this decision, it’s essential to build your exhibit strategy as a whole and build it around your marketing goals and objectives.

Rental solutions have evolved and are no longer a generic, second-best option. Throughout all industries, rental is disguised in high-quality, custom, brand-name products that provide convenient solutions without sacrificing the luxury experience. Examples include Rent the Runway and Vivrelle, offering designer clothing and handbags, and VRBO, offering homes for luxury getaways.

The use of rental exhibits began in 1851 at The Great Exhibition, which took place in London. It was open from May to October and attracted six million visitors. Since then, we’ve evolved from simple pipe and drape solutions to out-of-the-box rental kits, and today there are endless possibilities with high-quality, custom rental solutions.

Part of our discovery process when working with clients is gaining perspective of their exhibiting objectives and goals. Throughout these conversations, a question often asked is whether they should rent or purchase their exhibit. There are many factors to consider when creating the combination that provides financial advantages, flexibility, and brand amplification.

1. Purchase your exhibit

Purchasing an exhibit has financial advantages because it’s a long-term investment in an asset and you can capitalize the expense. Depending on your exhibit strategy, multiple business units within your company can utilize the exhibit at various shows throughout the year, increasing your return on investment (ROI).

Owning your exhibit lets you include highly customized features, such as product demo stations or displays unique to your brand. It also lets you lock in an exhibit design specific to your brand that maintains consistency between shows. However, a locked-in look can limit your options for future added components or changes.

Important factors to consider when purchasing an exhibit:

  • Crating – It is crucial to protect your exhibit, and depending on the size, crating can be costly and must be included in your budget.
  • Storage fees – Your exhibit will need a place to call home. Storage fees are typically calculated by unit or space.
  • Maintenance – Your exhibit will experience wear and tear, so you must dedicate a portion of your budget to maintain it.
  • Pull and Prep fees – Work with an asset management service to prepare and set up your exhibit before shows to ensure that everything is in place and working.

3. Rent your exhibit

Rental exhibit solutions include a wide range of options, both in quality and customization levels. There are financial advantages to renting, as it is typically 1/3 the cost of purchasing your exhibit. This stretches your exhibit budget, allowing you to invest more in custom graphics or opt for a larger footprint at trade shows. Renting also allows you to tailor your design for each show, scale up or down to various exhibit sizes, or test the waters at a new show without making a large investment.

Renting is an excellent option if you want to integrate digital features in your exhibit, such as video walls or monitors. Technology is continuously evolving, and renting allows you to stay on the cutting edge and update these features from year-to-year and show-to-show.

Renting is a sustainable solution as it allows resources and hardware to be reused and doesn’t leave you with an exhibit to dispose of when making changes.

Important factors to consider when renting an exhibit:

  • Easily Adaptable – If your trade show calendar includes a variety of booth sizes, rental allows for a unique experience at each show.
  • Flexible Schedule – Rental provides additional flexibility if your show dates change or overlap.
  • Lower Operating Costs – No storage and pull and prep fees.
  • Graphics – You need to include the purchase and storage of graphics in your budget.
  • Wear and Tear – Be sure to work with a reliable partner, so your rental exhibit is properly maintained and refurbished.

3. Hybrid exhibits

Hybrid exhibits combine rental and purchase elements and can provide the best of both worlds. It allows you to choose highly customized features within your exhibit and supplement with rental elements. Alternatively, you can rent most of your exhibit and supplement it with a few key custom items. By not purchasing the entire exhibit structure, you can reduce the cost but still fulfill your vision that’s unique to your brand. Typically, with our clients, we find that 75% of the exhibit is rental and 25% is custom. The custom portion increases brand recognition and maintains a consistent brand image from show-to-show.

Skyline’s rental solutions are created from the same product lines as purchase elements and provide the same level of quality. Our discovery process is the same for all clients, allowing for the combination of rental and purchase elements that works best for their strategy.

Important factors to consider for a hybrid exhibit:

  • Crating and Storage Fees – Include these in your budget for all the purchased, custom elements.
  • Compatibility – Evaluate what rental options are the most compatible with your custom elements to ensure brand consistency.
  • Show Schedule – Rental elements allow you to quickly pivot with a changing show schedule.

In a recent survey we conducted, 22% of exhibitors reported purchasing their exhibit, 32% reported renting their exhibit, 32% are reusing their owned exhibit, and 8% wish there were another way. If you are reevaluating your trade show program or looking for a more efficient way to use your exhibit marketing budget, reach out to us today! We can help you create a successful strategy and make an impact at all your trade shows.

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