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The Biggest Myths About Renting And What You Need To Know

Even in the era of digital marketing, tradeshows are just as important as ever. The best marketing tools are educational in nature, and a tradeshow is an opportunity to educate your would-be customers in real-time. 

But first, you need to attract them to your display. And that’s where your display makes the world of difference. 

There’s a longstanding debate over rental displays versus custom displays, largely based on budget concerns and on misconceptions about rental displays. We’re debunking some of the biggest myths about rentals so that you can make the right decision for your company’s next tradeshow. 

What are Tradeshow Rental Displays?

Before we cover myths, though, let’s talk terminology. 

You’re likely already familiar with the concept of a tradeshow display. It’s a visible statement of your company’s brand, designed to draw viewers (and potential customers) in. It shows visitors who you are, what you do, and what you offer. In doing so, a display helps you attract and nurture potential leads

That said, displays are not one-size-fits-all. 

Broadly speaking, displays can be split into custom or rental displays. We don’t like this distinction, since it drives home several myths about rental displays, but it’s useful to understand the basic difference. 

A custom booth, generally speaking, is your own booth that you keep on hand for tradeshows. A rental display, on the other hand, is a display that a third-party partner sets up for you when you’re ready to exhibit, rather than you maintaining all the materials on your own. 

With that in mind, let’s talk about some of the major myths around rental displays. 

Myth #1: Rental Displays Can’t Be Customized

We don’t like the sharp distinction between custom versus rental displays because it hammers home one of the biggest misconceptions about rental displays, which is that rental displays cannot be customized. 

When you think of custom versus rental, you likely picture a custom display as your own blank canvas, ready for you to fill in with your own living color. With that backdrop, you likely think of a rental display as immutable, a bland backdrop made of a predetermined kit that you fill in around the margins with your own materials. 

That couldn’t be further from the truth. 

The Truth

While some rental displays come from pre-designed kits (this is what makes them cheaper) the truth is that rental displays can be completely customized based on your brand’s vision and needs. The difference between a rental and a custom display is that you can save money on the display’s structure rather than building the display from scratch. 

Keep in mind that not all companies offer this service. Some prefer to offer predetermined kits at a lower price point. But if you want a display that truly matches your brand, it’s worth finding companies with significant customization options. This will cost you a bit more for the display, but the payoff is worth it in the long-run. 

Myth #2: Rental Displays Can’t Be Custom-Built

This leads into the second most common myth about rental displays, which is that they can’t be custom-built. This relates closely to the first myth about limited customization. 

We encounter this misconception from customers all the time. They tend to think that rentals have to be built from display systems, rather than be constructed of wood, panels, etc. Basically, they think that they’re stuck with the display system that’s available to them. 

The Truth

The good news? If you don’t like an exhibit system, you don’t need to stick with it. 

Some displays are built from exhibit systems, but the degree of customization is entirely at the customer’s discretion. The reality is that you can get as custom or as cookie cutter as you’d like, depending on what you need and what you’re willing to spend. 

This is why we don’t like a hard dividing line between custom displays and rental displays–it implies that rental displays cannot be customized at all. In truth, the only real difference between a rental display and a custom display is that you rent one and own the other. 

Myth #3: Display Quality is Limited

Your brand is your baby. And when you represent it to potential customers, you want to ensure you put your best foot forward. Which is why another frequent concern about rental displays is quality–especially because many tradeshow presenters buy into the first two myths about rentals not being customizable. 

This concern often arises in connection to lower prices for rental displays or reused components in an exhibit. Many presenters believe that  rentals have a lower quality by virtue of being rentals instead of being freshly designed from scratch for the buyer. 

The Truth

Think of it this way: your job is your brand, but your display company’s job is to create display booths. If the company doesn’t create high-quality booths, they’re not very good at their job. 

In reality, rental display exhibits can be just as high-quality as any custom booth. They should be as high-quality as any custom booth you view, and if they’re subpar, that’s a dock on the company that crafted the rental display. 

Remember, a rental display can be customized with the same degree of detail as any custom booth. That means rental displays use the same high-quality components as any custom display. Even if you leverage some reused components, they should be just as high-quality as any custom components in your display. 

Myth #4: Rentals are Expensive

You’ve got a business to run, and that means managing your marketing budget. Especially for an undertaking like a tradeshow. You need to minimize costs and maximize profits, especially if you’re not a huge business. 

The fourth myth, that rentals are expensive, is one that drives many a budget-minded business away from rentals. 

The logic is simple: if you invest in a custom exhibit once, you only have to pay for it once. Then you can keep reusing the components, and over time, the exhibit pays for itself. Rental displays, on the other hand, incur a cost each time you use it for a tradeshow. 

The Truth

The truth is more nuanced. 

Yes, you do need to pay for a rental each time you use it in a tradeshow. In that sense, it incurs more frequent costs than buying a booth outright. On the other hand, renting a display means you don’t have to deal with the myriad costs of owning a display, including storage, shuttling your supplies between tradeshows, and maintaining or replacing your components. 

Plus, all exhibits age. You may buy an exhibit once, but you have to pay to update graphics and design elements to reflect current trends. Eventually, you’ll have to replace your display altogether. The idea that custom displays are a one-time-only cost is a myth. 

Myth #5: Rentals are Only for Cash-Strapped Exhibitors 

This myth is a bit counterintuitive when taken alongside the last one, but we see it all the time. 

The thinking runs something like this: if an exhibitor can’t afford to maintain a permanent tradeshow display, they will opt for a rental in order to display something. Companies that have the money to run with the big dogs will invest in a permanent display. 

The Truth

In reality, some of the biggest names in the business rely on rental displays all the time. It’s not an issue of being cash-strapped, but rather a matter of pragmatism. 

Many large companies display in multiple tradeshows simultaneously, sometimes multiple tradeshows in the same week or the same city. Renting provides them the flexibility to be in multiple places at once and make a good impression each time. 

Other companies like the convenience that comes with renting. With the help of a third-party vendor, they don’t need to worry about storage, shipping, or the cost of updating their display. All they need to do is let their partner know where to be, when, and with what display arrangement and they’re good to go. 

Myth #6: Rentals are Only Helpful if You Exhibit Once a Year

With rentals, it’s easy to slip into the owner mindset. The thought is that if you exhibit more than once a year, it must be worth it to just purchase a display, right? That way, you don’t have to keep paying for a rental over and over again and can make use of the same materials. 

Not so fast. 

The Truth

The truth is that renting can actually be more advantageous to rent an exhibit if you go to tradeshows multiple times a year for the same reason that large companies visiting multiple tradeshows rely on them–renting offers you a degree of flexibility you just can’t achieve when you own a display. 

For those who don’t need to be in multiple tradeshows at once, rentals can still offer much-needed flexibility. Renting makes it easy to update your display with the latest tradeshow trends, changes to your marketing strategy, and brand design updates. You could change your rental every year or even between every show. 

Alternately, renting allows you to scale up or down to reflect changes in your budget over time. 

Myth #7: It Can’t Reflect Your Company’s Brand

Your company’s brand is your most essential marketing tool. It’s what makes you recognizable in a sea of other tradeshow displays. It’s what allows customers to spot you immediately. It’s what allows customers to recognize your products and your business mentality. 

It’s more than just design. It’s a reflection of who you are as a business. Which means that representing your brand is absolutely critical to your success. 

Because many tradeshow presenters erroneously believe that rental displays can’t be customized, they also tend to think that displays can’t represent their brand. After all, how can a cookie cutter display accurately portray who you are? 

The Truth

We’ve already talked about the myth that rental displays can’t be customized, so you can already guess why this myth isn’t true. 

A tradeshow rental isn’t like a rental car. You don’t pick up a model from a rental agency and drive off in whatever they happen to have in the lot, making the best of a predetermined setup. A rental display is only successful if it represents you in the best possible light, which means representing your brand just as successfully as any custom booth. 

A good display company will have plenty of options for you to choose from, making it easy to seamlessly tailor your display to your brand and message. If a company can’t manage that, it’s not worth renting from them.

Myth #8: Used and Abused

Another myth we see all the time is the used and abused myth. This one relates back to quality. 

Many would-be renters think of rental displays the same way they think of a rental car, specifically a used rental car. They think it will be old and outdated and look the part to boot. Or, at a minimum, that the various components shuffled between one display user and the next translates to components that look worn and run-down. 

The Truth

No rental company worth their salt would dream of renting out displays that look worn or dilapidated. They would be horrified to discover that any display they sent to a customer was in poor condition. Remember, it’s in the company’s best interest to help you succeed, and if a display looks rough around the edges, it hurts your chances of success. 

When you rent, every component is inspected before every trade show. Blemishes are polished. Imperfections are fixed. Damaged parts are repaired or outright replaced. That way, the exhibit looks like new every time you use it. 

If you purchase an exhibit, you have to do that legwork yourself. Any exhibit will show wear and tear over the years, and if you own the display, it’s up to you to make replacements. 

Myth #9: You Have to Plan Way Ahead to Make Sure It’s Ready

Another common misconception is that you need to plan well in advance to make sure your rental is ready to go. Basically, this myth says that you need to peer into a crystal ball and have your tradeshow calendar ready way in advance to have your rental booth in time. 

The Truth

The truth is quite the opposite, and if your rental company requires a song, dance, and a memo before setting up a display, you’re working with a company that’s making things harder than necessary. 

Rental display companies set up these displays professionally. Any good company will be able to quickly assemble the necessary components and put your display together for you in no time. They save time on setup and shipping since they take care of it for you, and since you don’t need to handle setup yourself, you don’t need to tack that time on the front of the tradeshow. 

Instead, you can make arrangements with your rental company and show up to the tradeshow ready to get down to business. 

Myth #10: Everyone Will Know It’s a Rented Booth

 Last but not least is the pervasive myth that everyone at the tradeshow will know it’s a rented booth. This is part of the quality myths and the idea that rental elements are used and abused endlessly. 

This is a valid concern. When you make an appearance at a tradeshow, you attract leads by looking your very best. But as you can already guess, the idea that a rental display will look like a rental is a myth. 

The Truth

In reality, an owned exhibit is more likely to look its age than a rental booth. According to Exhibitor Magazine, the average owned booth is four years old. Even if the company only did two shows a year, that’s an exhibit that’s been through eight shows of wear and tear, and if the company doesn’t update the display, it will show its age. 

A rental display, on the other hand, is refreshed and polished before every show. You can update your branding and design anytime to keep it looking fresh. 

In short? The only rental booth that will look like a rental booth is one created by a low-quality rental company. Don’t spend your money on companies like that. 

Find a Partner Who’s on the Same Page

Last but not least, you need a partner who’s on the same page. Find a brand partner, exhibit company, who wants to understand your brand and what you are trying to accomplish.  

Your rental display company is very much a partner in the whole process–just as much as you would partner with a company to design a custom display for purchase. After all, they’re working with you to represent your brand, and for that, you need a responsive partner. 

Look for more than just a company offering the required services. Look for a company that listens to you and then goes above and beyond. 

Let’s Get You the Tradeshow Results You’ve Been Looking For

We know that tradeshows can make a huge difference for your company. We also know that your success often relies on the success of your display. Rental displays are an accessible way to put your company’s best foot forward. 

We’re here to help you through every step of a great tradeshow experience, starting with constructing a great rental display. Ready to take your next tradeshow to the next level? Get in touch today to learn more about how we can help. 

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