ClickCease Rent vs. Purchase: Trade Show Displays | Godfrey Group


There’s so much to consider when you’re planning your year in marketing. But an important financial decision is whether you should rent or buy your trade show display. Like with anything, there are pros and cons to both. But the good news is, we can help make this decision much easier for you. There’s a time to rent. And there’s a time to buy. So, let’s take a look at the deciding factors.

Rent vs. purchase: your trade show display

In case you’re unfamiliar, most trade show display companies offer two options when it comes to a customer’s display needs: They can rent the equipment, or they can purchase the equipment. While this might seem like a simple decision, there are quite a few factors that weigh in. 

Weighing your trade show options: the pros & cons of renting & buying




As you’re just getting started with trade show marketing as a way to grow your business, renting offers you the ability to experiment with different layouts until you find what works best for your business.

Additionally, if you’re simply testing out one show to see how your business will do in the trade show arena, renting a display is a great way to test the waters. 

Change with ease.

If you expect to make changes to your branding in the near future, renting might be the right choice for right now. While graphics are fairly simple to change in a purchased display, if you anticipate any changes to your layout, renting will make that transition much easier for you. 


Limited customization.

Rental trade show marketing exhibits are typically comprised of various pre-built structures. So if you’re looking for a fully customized display, renting won’t suit your needs.

Your display options might be limited depending on inventory availability.

As we mentioned, your rental display will be made up of various prefabricated structures. So, your rented trade show display options will depend on what the company has in stock at the time of your order.

Possible wear & tear.

The frames and structures that make up your rented trade show display are being reused. After some time, these components may begin to show slight wear and tear. We advise working with a company that has strong quality control to ensure that your rental looks as good as new.

Potentially expensive over time.

Depending on your trade show marketing plans, renting your display has the potential to get quite expensive. Unsure if you’re better off renting or buying? A good rule of thumb is if you’re planning to use the display three times or more, it is best to purchase the display regardless of the booth size.



Consistent & cost-effective.

Purchasing your custom exhibit ensures that your display will remain consistent from show to show which presents a healthy and stable brand. Additionally, your one-time investment will prove to be cost-effective as you continue to exhibit. 

Total customization.

With a purchased display, you can customize every element to your specific needs and desires without many restrictions and with your ideal customer in mind. Click here to see additional benefits to investing in a custom display.


You can experience possible ownership expenses.

When making this important decision, you’ll want to consider the additional costs that can come with trade show display ownership such as monthly storage, upkeep, insurance, repair, refurbishment, etc. However, these expenses are typically fairly nominal. 

When it’s smart to purchase your trade show display

When working with a 10x10 booth space, which is the most common size for an exhibit, purchasing the display really makes much more sense than renting. The reason for this is that the prefabricated structure in which your custom graphic is displayed is merely a fraction of the cost of the “packaged deal.” The custom graphics typically make up the majority of the cost, and with a rental or a purchase, you purchase the graphics either way.

It also makes more sense to purchase if a standard 10x20 portable display will meet your needs. Again, in this case, the graphics, which you purchase either way, make up the majority of the cost.

Along with booth size, frequency of use is another key factor when it comes to deciding whether to rent or purchase your trade show display. If you expect to exhibit three times or more, regardless of your booth size, purchasing is the smarter choice.

When renting is a good choice

While it’s wise to invest in your marketing, renting is a smart solution when you’re first trying trade show marketing or testing out a larger scale exhibit. 

For 10x20 spaces and larger, if you’re just dipping your toe in the water, renting your equipment, at least until you’ve discovered what works best for your marketing needs, might be the best choice. This option allows you to present your company with a first-class image at your trade show without committing to the full purchase price of an exhibit. 

Decision time

Godfrey Group is a full-service exhibit house, and we offer storage, show services, design and more. Our account managers are happy to discuss your specific trade show needs and help you to determine whether renting or purchasing is right for your company at this time.