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Rental exhibits help firms get more for their show dollar

Participating in tradeshows can be as costly as they can be rewarding, but rental exhibits have become a popular way for exhibitors to reduce costs and make tradeshows more lucrative, especially for frst-timers.


Rental exhibits continue proving their worth on the tradeshow floor.

“Rental exhibits are popular with first-time exhibitors because they enable companies to have a trial run of a display design before committing to a purchase,” said Pat Goeke, president and CEO, Nomadic Display. “Generally speaking, rental exhibits are priced at 30 to 40 percent of their purchase price so they offer cost savings up front. But exhibitors planning to use the same exhibit three times or more over the course of a year may find there is a financial advantage to purchasing a display versus renting one.

“It’s been our experience that rental exhibits are most often sought for situations where an exhibitor has new or different exhibit requirements during the course of the year,” said Goeke.

Having the opportunity to rent exhibits before deciding whether or not to invest in the full purchase also can help determine if any changes are needed for more effective exhibiting while keeping costs down.

“There are no large capital expenses, and you have the flexibility to completely change designs by using different systems. And there are no storage or maintenance costs,” said Steve Jahr, marketing communications manager, Skyline Exhibits. “Depending on rental provider, an exhibitor may be able to rent exhibit hardware locally to their show and just ship their custom graphics, which are typically small and lightweight.”

Renting an exhibit also can eliminate many of the hassles and cost of ownership.

“The most obvious cost reduction is in the elimination of all ownership expenses, including storage, in and outbound inspections, repairs, refurbishment, upgrades and disposal. Additional savings can be achieved by renting a display in the show city, which will reduce transportation costs,” said Goeke. “We use the rental inventory from the location closest to the exhibitor’s show to help reduce their freight costs. In addition, when exhibitors rent a complete tradeshow display with installation and dismantling services from Nomadic for their show in Las Vegas or Washington D.C., we’ll deliver and pick up their display free of charge.”

While rental exhibits have proven useful in domestic tradeshows, they can be just as effective when exhibiting in other nations.

“Exhibitors with overseas shows often save money by renting in-country rather than incur international customs, duties and a value-added tax to ship their own property,” said Goeke. “Rental exhibits also can be used to bridge resource gaps when existing owned properties are already committed or shows are scheduled too close together. And renting a display can free up funds to be reallocated to other areas of exhibit marketing, such as advertising and promotion designed to drive more traffic.”

For Skyline, island exhibits and in-line structural displays have proven to be popular rental options.

“Because Skyline’s systems are modular, exhibits can be designed to fit varying booth spaces using the same components, and graphics can be easily changed to speak to specific audiences,” said Jahr. “A company that owns an exhibit also can rent additional modular components to create a larger presence at a major show while continuing to use their owned exhibit at smaller regional shows.”

The relatively small size of some components also makes it easier to modify rental exhibits.

“Overall, rental exhibits can be modified to certain objectives. Smaller displays, like pop-ups that come in one basic design, can be tailored to an exhibitor’s needs with add-ons, dimensional graphics, small flat screens, shelves and case tables,” said Jahr. “An exhibit used at an industry show to showcase products may be very different than the same exhibit at a recruiting fair where informational presentations may be more important.”

As might be expected, weight is a critical factor to consider when choosing the type of exhibit to rent.

“The current trend is fabric structures. Aluminum extrusions are lightweight, easy to assemble and, when covered in dye sub-printed fabrics, offer plenty of real estate for graphic images and messaging,” said Goeke. “While we offer everything from add-ons to islands, we most often rent 10 x 20 in-line and island displays.”

While reduced costs are a driving force behind the popularity of rental exhibits, their increasingly green nature also makes them desirable for many exhibitors.

“Companies appreciate the re-use aspect of modular rental components,” said Jahr. “Exhibits can also be rented local to the show, which reduces emissions of distant shipping as well as being less expensive.”

With a great deal of flexibility and cost savings, demand for rental exhibits should remain high.

“We anticipate the demand to remain strong and possibly trend higher,” said Jahr. “With a questionable economy, many companies favor rental over committing to a larger investment. Renting gives companies the flexibility to change their exhibit size, footprint and design to fit varying show objectives.”

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