Rental vs. Custom Trade Show Exhibits: Which is More Secure?

So, You’re Headed To a Trade Show…

Heading to a trade show or expo, your goal in event marketing is to make a good impression. How do you do it? Your list probably includes dressing well, being personable, networking, and speaking knowledgeably about your company.

And having an effective exhibit. 

Your exhibit design is so much more than a place for you to stand with your company’s name or logo behind you. Trade show exhibits demonstrate to people what you’re about. Your booth creates the first impression for many of your potential partners and clients. 

Your product, your mission, your brand identity should all be communicated in the physical and visual configuration that is your trade show booth.

It’s a big decision and one that requires a lot of consideration.

Rental vs. Custom Trade Show Exhibits: Which is More Secure? 4

Renting vs Custom Trade Show Exhibits

One of the first things you’ll want to decide is whether to rent or buy.

There are obviously some basics to keep in mind when you’re deciding whether you’re going to rent or go the custom exhibit route. You’ll want to consider how large of a booth you want, what your budget looks like, whether you need or want to use the same exhibit for several trade shows in a row, whether your branding will be changing soon, and what you have the transportation, storage, and set up capacity for.

Pros & Cons of Renting vs. Buying

Custom trade show exhibits and rentals both have their pros and cons, and what you choose really does depend on what your business needs are:

  • Custom trade show exhibits can be designed and built to exact specifications, structure and all
  • Modular rentals come in varying sizes with custom graphics, but not built to custom specs
  • A custom booth is more cost-effective if you need the same exhibit for several shows
  • The cost of renting makes more sense if you’re only attending one show
  • A custom trade show exhibit will take a large amount of time to plan and complete
  • A rental booth can often be completed and delivered very quickly
  • Custom booths deliver the same experience every show, for familiarity and convenience
  • Renting different exhibit styles can allow you to vary your size and setup by show
  • A custom booth is kept and maintained by you, so you know what condition it’s in
  • A rental booth is made of reusable modular parts; you may not know what condition it will be in
  • Owning a custom exhibit makes you responsible for storage, maintenance, insurance, and any other fees
  • Renting a trade show exhibit means you’re only responsible for shipping it back (or paying for loss or damages)

Maybe you’ve thought of all this already. But have you considered security? 

Rental vs. Custom Trade Show Exhibits: Which is More Secure? 5

Considering Security When Choosing an Exhibit

Which one is more secure? Custom trade show exhibits or rental booths? Is it possible to say? 

We wish it were that easy, but the answer, again, depends on you and your business.

Start with this list of questions. It should help give you a good idea of whether renting or going full custom will be a better choice for your trade show security.

Questions to Help You Choose for Security: Rental or Custom

Are you traveling with/displaying small valuables?

If you’re traveling with or displaying small valuables like jewelry, technology, or luxury goods, you may be considering a custom display with locking cabinets or other security options built-in. Depending on your budget, this could be a good option to protect valuable items.

Choosing a custom booth with built-in security, while more costly and not foolproof, is definitely a better option than renting a standard booth and attempting to stash valuables in boxes onsite – which happens more often than you might think.

Does your display depend on integrated technology?

If your exhibit depends on technology, you could be at risk, whether custom or rental. Minimize risk with a) custom displays integrating technology or b) secure mounts for your tech. 

While it could be fairly simple to slip away with a tablet or monitor, it’s much harder to do so if the tech is integrated with a large trade show display! 

Will your exhibit be monitored continually or left unattended?

If your exhibit might be unattended for long stretches, a rental may be a safer option. While it’s likely nothing will happen to your booth build itself if all your valuables are secured, it’s still possible someone could ruin your display in search of valuables or else vandalize it.

In the instance your booth is vandalized or tampered with, it might be in your best interest to have a rental booth simply because of the lower recovery costs. Generally, a custom booth is going to be a much larger monetary investment that you’ll need to maintain over several years to get the full value. However, a rental booth will not set you back as much if you have to pay for damages and replace it.

Does it feature interesting freestanding structural elements?

It’s pretty unlikely anyone will take your actual booth setup. However, it has happened before. You may be at greater risk if you’ve chosen a custom setup with interesting freestanding components, such as

  • Display boards and cases
  • Chairs and small tables
  • Small appliances
  • Other fun decorative items (ex: model planes, vintage technology)

If you don’t foresee being able to store your moving parts or take them with you when your booth is unattended, a more commonplace modular rental booth may be a safer choice.

Rental vs. Custom Trade Show Exhibits: Which is More Secure? 6

What Type of Trade Show Exhibit Will You Use?

Trade show security is often overlooked in planning. We want to remind you to factor security into everything you do to prepare for your exhibit – including booth choice. 

A good rule of thumb is this: If you have any item of value that could be easily located and carried away, better safe than sorry. 

And for the safest, most secure trade show, consider trade show video surveillance and see how it can work for you

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