To Rent Or To Buy Your Exhibit… That is the Question

There are a number of things to consider when deciding if an exhibit rental or purchase is the right choice for your exhibiting needs, but it ultimately comes down to cost and flexibility.

Cost for renting vs buying

Similar to owning a home, however, you will need to plan for upgrades and emergencies if you own your booth. Damage can occur in transit requiring hardware fixes and you’ll more than likely want to update your graphics periodically. You’ll also need to store that booth somewhere between shows as well as arrange for shipping it around the country to your various shows.

If you’re new to the tradeshow industry, purchasing a booth may be hard on your budget. This is especially true if you’re still in the exploratory phase trying to figure out your marketing strategy. But ultimately, if your plan is to use the same exhibit for multiple shows, purchasing your display will be the best option. As a general rule of thumb you can pay for the cost of a new display with the cost of three rentals. So if you’re attending 3 shows where the same booth will work, purchasing is the most cost effective. 

Renting is obviously more expensive in the long term, but provides many other benefits that we’ll get to below. 

Flexibility: Renting vs Purchasing

Our business has come a long way over the years, and one of the big industry changes has been the shift from booth purchases to rentals. For the majority of our clients the ease, convenience and flexibility of renting is much more appealing than purchasing. Plus, with our rental system you aren’t limited to the pre-designed kits on our site. Just about anything you can get with a purchase can be done as a rental these days! 

Renting a booth means you’re not tied down to any size or design. This means that for large shows you can go BIG, then scale down at smaller shows without owning multiple booths. Or, if you prefer to use the same booth multiple times we can store your graphics to save reproduction costs. While purchasing the booth might be less long term, the convenience of just being able to show up and sell your product is worth it to many. Time is money, right? Not having to worry about storage, shipping, installation & dismantling is a huge benefit of renting. 

As an example of how a client might change their look every year with a custom rental, here are 3 different rentals we’ve provided for the same company over 3 years. Notice how their basic needs are similar each year, but renting allows them to drastically change their design to compete in an ever-evolving tech industry. Do these designs look like cookie-cutter rentals to you? (hint: the answer is NO!)

Exhibit rental- 2015

Rental Exhibit- 2016

Exhibit Rental- 2017

Renting could also be a good starting point if you want to test the waters before committing to a purchase. When purchasing, not only are you investing more money upfront, but you’re committing to a longer run with that design. If flexibility isn’t important to your company as saving money, purchasing is probably the best option for you.

At the end of the day it’s a judgement call. It really depends on your company, budget, and marketing goals. If you’re on the fence you can view more information about renting on our site here. Or you can give us a call to discuss with an industry expert! 

Tips for a Successful Trade Show Install and Dismantle

Firstly, these tips are aimed toward exhibitors who own their booth and are hiring a company to handle the install & dismantle. If you’re renting your exhibit through us, we’ll handle your trade show install and dismantle at a guaranteed price for you! We’ll bold items in this article that still apply when renting from us.

Early Communication!

The theme of these tips is simple: PLAN AHEAD! Many preventable snags can end up slowing down installation on the show floor and slow downs end up driving up your labor costs. These tips will help you prepare for a smooth install and avoid waiting time unnecessarily. We can’t stress this enough. Schedule a call with the lead on the I & D team to discuss the details & your expectations. Send a set-up diagram, booth orientation and graphic layout orientation ahead of time for them to reference during set up. Confirm date and times as well as contact info so that you can communicate efficiently when the big day comes. 

Be on top of Show Orders

Make sure your electrical order has been scheduled for installation prior to your set up day. Send your trade show install and dismantle provider copies of your electrical order and a grid layout detailing the location (and specific power needs) for each drop. Be sure that the grid layout indicates the surrounding booth locations to ensure the booth is being oriented properly. 

TIP: 100 watt bulb = 1 amp; 1 monitor = 3 amps; count up light bulbs and monitors to confirm how many “amps” you need at each drop, based on the # of lights or electronics that will be drawing power from each drop! If you’re unsure of what to order we’ll be happy to make recommendations. Extra drops can added later if necessary, but it’ll cost more so better to plan ahead. 

 Same thing with your flooring. Double-check to make sure your flooring has been scheduled for installation prior to your set-up. There’s no bigger time killer than your install team having to wait around on the show floor for electrical or flooring to be installed. Don’t let this happen to you! Be sure to send copies of your carpet and/or flooring order to your I & D company, so if there are delays at show site, they can act as the advocate on your behalf. The same applies if you have a hanging sign, make sure the order is submitted to have it installed before set up. It can usually be installed after if necessary, but it’s much easier for the riggers to do it before the booth is set up. Don’t forget to send a copy of the rigging order to your I & D company!

Think about the logistics

Let your I & D company know if any special tools or equipment is necessary for set up. Arranging to have ladders, genie lifts, carts, etc at your booth space before set up will save everyone valuable time. 

Try to check in before set up

If possible, ask if your I & D company can check to make sure electrical, flooring and rigging has been installed properly the day before set up. This often isn’t possible with smaller shows that only have one or two set up days, but it’s worth checking. Have them also check that the booth is clear of crates and materials so that nothing gets in the way of set up the next morning. 

Bring the label maker! Or tape + a sharpie

Do a good job of labeling every exhibit component, and be sure to check that everything corresponds with your set-up diagrams.

Make notes/take photos

Take photos and make notes to help describe any little tricks, tips, or special attention details for assembling any of the more complicated components of your exhibit. 

Bring set up diagrams

Along with helpful photos and notes, make sure to print and email copies of any line drawings, renderings, and staging photos of your exhibit design. Also include hard packets of this information in your exhibit cases/crates, so there are plenty of copies for the I & D team to reference.

Meet with the team

If you’re present for set up, hold a brief meeting with the I & D team right before installation begins to review your expectations for the day. Go over your set-up diagrams and photos so they can visualize the finished product. A list of the proper order in which components should be built is helpful to avoid the need for backtracking. 

Request a change if needed

If someone on your trade show install and dismantle team just isn’t performing to your standards, request a change. You’re paying a lot of money for this service. It’s okay to expect everyone to be on-time, professional, and productive. Tell the I & D Lead that you need to replace that individual with someone more experienced.

We know from experience to expect the unexpected on the trade show floor. We hope that these tips help you prepare for a successful install & dismantle. The first couple of shows with a new exhibit can be stressful. With a bit of planning the surprises can hopefully be kept to a minimum. 

Trade Show Graphics – Do’s and Don’ts

Below are 10 tips to consider when designing the graphics for your next show. We see a lot of graphics. Some are awesome and others fall short. We want yours to be amazing!

1. Probably most importantly, hire a graphic designer who understands trade show graphic design. Most of them don’t, so don’t waste your money on someone who is inexperienced in the type of design you need. A professional graphic designer will know how to source quality files, format them, design your graphics, and hit your deadline. It will pay off to hire someone who knows what they’re doing! If you don’t know what things like resolution, PMS color, vector art and bleed are, you don’t want to be responsible for file preparation. We’ve had one too many clients try to prepare graphics themselves only to miss their deadline because they don’t know what they’re doing. Then they end up hiring someone at the last minute anyway PLUS paying rush production fees. Save yourself the hassle and find someone you can trust from the start!

2. Think about what elements you want to be seen either 6 ft. away or across the show floor. Higher elements such as overhead signs and railing graphics on a double deck will draw your customer’s attention. If you need to pick and choose for budget reasons, those should be the ones you emphasize over eye-level graphics. 

3. Make your message clear, concise, and to the point. Leave the details to your handouts. Visitors won’t be reading text heavy graphics so it’s best to keep it simple and impactful. No one is going to read text heavy graphics so keep it simple and impactful. What problem is your product a solution to? What makes your company stand out from the rest? Messaging that can be digested in 15 seconds or less will make a much larger impact than throwing copy everywhere. 

4. Pay attention to image quality. Photos should be vector or high res, ESPECIALLY your logo. Spend the extra money to get good quality stock photography. People will be viewing your graphics from close up, so they need to look sharp. If you worked with a designer to create an identity for your company, ask them for the native files. You may not have the software to open them, but a professional designer will. Keep in mind that if this is a booth you own you’ll likely be using the same graphics for multiple shows. They should look the best that they possibly can!

5. Color is Your Friend (or your enemy…). Referencing specific Pantone swatches when color matching is critical. If you’re working with a professional they’ll know this. Trade shows are notorious for being tight turn projects. No one wants to be surprised by their graphics being the wrong color on the show floor.

6. View them before you print them. View your graphics rendered on the display. Sometimes elements of the physical booth have a big affect on the flow of your graphics. You won’t know until you see them rendered on your display. Pay special attention to where shelves and monitors and get exact measurements. It sucks when the graphics arrive and they look amazing until you realize that the monitor cuts off half of your logo.

7. Scale is everything. Show them something that makes them want to visit you. Don’t design 20 ft graphics that are only meant to be viewed from 5ft away. Let them use your collateral for details and smaller views/descriptions of your product. Think about what you want people to see from three aisles over that will make them stop by.

8. Don’t overdo it on the fonts. Custom fonts are all the rage right now, and while it can look cool on, say, baby shower invitations, one or two fonts is plenty on your trade show graphics. Any more than that and you’ve got a possible identity crisis on your hands. The most important thing is clarity and legibility so look for a clean, easy-to-read font for the majority of your text. If you need a little flare you can add an accent font that’s more unique, but keep it to a minimum.

9. Create a good flow. Make sure your graphics all send one cohesive message. If you have 3 different products you’re showcasing and want them to look different that’s fine, but make sure they tie together somehow. 

TIP: If your company is re-branding, it’s a good idea to change out all of your graphics at once so that they all look cohesive. Sometimes there can be slight differences between batches when printing, so the only way to absolutely guarantee that your panels match perfectly is to do them at the same time from the same printer. 

10. Cut your losses and learn from your mistakes. If you follow these tips then hopefully your graphics will turn out amazing. But if despite your best efforts you end up with lack-luster graphics, try not to sweat it. Learn from your mistakes and try again at your next show. Graphics can be pricey, but re-using crummy graphics will likely cost you more in lost ROI than sucking it up and re-producing.