How Exhibit Rentals Can be the Smart Choice for your Business

Rental exhibits may be getting a bad “wrap” for being uninspired, but that doesn’t have to be the story for you.  See below the two most common types of rental exhibits that may fit your upcoming exhibit booth rental needs.

Trade Show, Rental Display, trade show Exhibits, EXHIB-IT!
Trade Show Rental Display Exhibits from EXHIB-IT!

If your budget does not allow you to purchase a new exhibit, renting an exhibit may be a smart choice both financially and logistically. Our industry rule of thumb is that renting an exhibit makes sense when exhibiting just once or twice, since a one-time exhibit rental generally costs approximately one-third of an equivalent new exhibit purchase. Renting a display lets you avoid the costs and headaches of long-term storage, redesigning the display for multiple shows and refurbishment for ownership of your display. What’s more is that rental exhibits provide flexibility and functionality to suit a wide range of exhibiting needs.

Not every rental display is the same. Before you sign on a dotted line, be sure to familiarize yourself with the three types of rental exhibits commonly available – pop-up and portable displays; modular and truss system displays; and hard-wall exhibit displays. If you find yourself wanting something that is a little less traditional, see some of the out-of-the-box rental exhibit examples below.

Pop-up and Portable Exhibits
The most common sizes for portable and pop-up exhibits are 8-by-8-foot or 8-by-10-foot pop-up trade show displays.  If you have a linear booth, such as a 10-by-10-foot or 10-by-20-foot size, this type of rental will make an effective back drop to display your company brand, logo, and a few key graphic messages for your target audience.

Their modest footprint allows pop-ups to be generally the least expensive of all rental options, especially if you are using rollable detachable graphics with Velcro to reuse on different back-wall structures. Most pop-up exhibits will save you money when it comes to labor for installation and dismantle at shows. This is because union rules in most cities allow an exhibitor to set up their own exhibit if it takes 30 minutes or less, is not higher than the standard 8-foot high requirement, and requires no hand tools or ladders to use for assembly. Most all pop-ups meet these criteria.

Pop-ups are lightweight and are often referred to as “portables.”  Most pop ups with full graphic panels, lights and a carry case or two can weigh up to 80 lbs. However if you rent in two cases, this is very easy to transport and pack up at the end of the show.

The downside of renting a pop-up display is that due to their lightweight and portable materials, cost effectiveness, they are relatively common and don’t really set you apart from the rest of the pop up exhibitors.  You may want to rent a pop-up such as a Nomadic Pop up display that allows you to add 3D elements such as a monitor mount with monitor or stand off graphics to help you really stand out from an ordinary pop-up exhibitor.

Modular Exhibits
Modular exhibits offer exhibitors an opportunity to build just about anything in any size. With adding a few custom touches, you’re only limited by your exhibit provider’s available rental inventory.  Modular exhibits can be thought of similar to Legos for adults.  These types of display rentals are often constructed from aluminum extrusions or frames, sometimes with honeycomb interiors for added strength and stability, and often laminated or direct printed on Sintra and slid into the framework to create panels.

Modular displays can be used to create pretty much any shape, rectangular kiosks, round towers, meeting rooms, product-display walls, and storage areas, depending on your specific needs. You can add some visual interest easily with truss elements, wall-covering graphics, and customized lighting. These types of rentals are also considered lightweight, saving you money on both shipping and material handling at shows, and if the rental items are not too complex that holds the pieces together, these types of rental displays can also save money when it comes to labor installation and dismantling of your booth rental

If the modular exhibit you select features a complex design and fastenings and requires hand tools for assembly, or takes longer than the allowed 30 minutes to set up, you won’t be able to install it yourself and will need to hire someone for your labor installation and dismantle work.

Some types of hard-wall exhibits are fastened together using wood screws, while others feature a more modern Allen-wrench cam-lock system for joining the panels, which speeds your setup time. These panels are usually available in either black or white laminate at standard heights of 8’ and come in various widths, but for a true custom look, digital photomurals can be printed and mounted on the entire outside surface of the panels. This method results in a smooth, custom look that is a step up from the less expensive modular rentals.

Most exhibit houses offer customized standard 4-by-8-foot panel inventory with other features such as elaborately shaped graphic toppers, custom lighting, additional reinforcement for holding large monitors for video displays and products, and custom laminated panels. Certainly, all these display upgrades come at an additional price, making hard-wall type booths more expensive than their pop-up exhibit and modular exhibit counterparts.

Consider this Before Your Next Show
Before matching and/or mixing traditional rental exhibits with unconventional items, consult the show’s exhibitor services manual for any rules, restrictions, and booth obstructions, and make sure the exhibit items you’re using are made of approved materials by the convention center’s fire marshal. When in doubt, ask the Show Management putting on the show for the fire specifications and/or check with the local fire marshal at the venue where the show will be held.

As you plan your next exhibit booth space, decide what it will take to make a lasting impression: traditional rental exhibit properties, an out-of-the box exhibit booth, or a combination of both. Whatever rental display option you choose, keep your company’s messaging and brand identity in mind to ensure your next rental exhibit is not only marketable but is memorable.


EXHIB-IT! is a design and display company that specializes in high quality trade show displays and trade show management services. More information can be found at

DJ Heckes, Author, FullBrain Marketing, CEO, EXHIB-IT!, Trade Show, Headshot
DJ Heckes, Author of FullBrain Marketing and CEO of EXHIB-IT!

About DJ Heckes, Author of Full BRAIN Marketing and Owner of EXHIB-IT! Tradeshow Marketing Experts

DJ Heckes is CEO of EXHIB-IT! Tradeshow Marketing Experts and Full BRAIN Marketing and focuses on educating and training companies to significantly improve their Small Business Marketing strategies.  DJ Heckes also presents customized training programs for Business Marketing, Social Media, Leadership and Trade Show Marketing. Learn more at Be sure to follow us!

DJ Heckes, CEO & Author
EXHIB-IT! Tradeshow Marketing Experts

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