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The Ultimate Trade Show Booth Question: Build or Rent?

For trade show exhibitors, the big question when planning for upcoming shows is whether or not to build a custom trade show booth or opt for a rental booth. Realistically, there are benefits to each option depending on your circumstances. Choosing your booth is a big decision, so let’s take a look at some of the key factors to consider when making the choice to build or rent.


Cost is on everyone’s list — but it’s necessary to evaluate the total cost, not just what is paid up front. For exhibitors who only attend a trade show or two per year, a rental booth is a smart option. Not only is there a lower up-front cost (often ⅓ to ½ the cost of a custom booth), but in the long run, your company will save on storage and maintenance. Additionally, considering the cost of making a custom booth, it would likely take many years to recoup your investment. Comparatively, however, custom booths are an excellent choice for businesses who have the capital to make that initial up-front investment and that exhibit frequently. In the long run, a custom booth that is frequently used will pay for itself over the course of a few shows.  Evaluating the cost alongside the benefits you can help you make the best decision for your business.

Design Options

Though many exhibit houses, like us here at Team One Exhibits, have the capability of making a rental booth look and feel custom, not all do. The overall structure of a rental unit will be somewhat static, with the ability to add your logo to the booth for the show. While there may be customizable elements, the reality is that a rental booth is not a custom booth, and you will be limited in design options. If this is a big part of your marketing plan, you may want to re-think a rental and opt for a custom design (weighing in the other key factors we’ve highlighted here as well).

Brand Recognition

Brand recognition is a vital part of many companies success, and as we just mentioned, rental booths do have some limitations when it comes to design. Evaluating the level of importance of your brand presence is critical because it can impact the company’s image and bottom line. If your company depends on brand recognition, it may be better to go with a custom booth. Having a plan for what you want your booth to look like at different shows should help guide you in determining how “custom” your booth needs to be.

Show Requirements

One thing that you must consider when making the decision to rent or own a trade show booth is at what types of events do you plan to exhibit and how frequently will you be exhibiting. Choosing to rent an exhibit booth offers a lot of versatility that you do not really get when building and owning a custom booth. If your business exhibits at multiple shows that overlap on the schedule, choosing to rent will give the ability to exhibit at more than one event at the same time at a lower cost. Additionally, if the show regulations change for the size and/or dimension of your booth, choosing a rental may make it easier to adapt to those changes with less of a hit to your bottom line.

Storage & Maintenance

Rental booths come with a great perk: no storage and no maintenance required. For each show, you’ll get a ready-to-use booth that can be shipped to your show directly from the storage warehouse. These booths are regularly inspected, properly maintained, clean, and easily set up with little effort from your company. On the other hand, when you own a custom booth, you will be responsible for storage, so you will need to ensure you have space to keep it secure and protected when not in use. Additionally, you will need to handle all maintenance over the life of your booth to ensure it is properly functioning and looking as sharp as the day you purchased it.

Overall, there are a number of points to consider when facing the ultimate question of whether to own a custom trade show booth or to opt for a rental, and these are just a few of the big things you should include in your decision-making process. If you have further questions or need help making a leap for a custom booth or if you need guidance in the rental process, contact us at Team One Exhibits, and we’ll be glad to help!