If you are involved in the tradeshow exhibit industry, chances are you and your team have asked “Does it make more sense for us to rent or purchase?” There is more to consider to this question than merely the numbers. But as an accounting manager, numbers are my specialty.

Start ups and other companies in the growth phase may be looking to make a large splash on the trade show floor but typically do not have the capital available to make such a large purchase. If your business has the money to make a large purchase, their policies will also be a factor in the decision. Rented items will go into the company budget as a onetime expense but an owned exhibit will be classified as a depreciating asset. Your company may have its financial or strategic reasons for its decision.

Keep in mind there are additional costs to purchasing beyond the initial purchase price. You have to pay for storage, insurance, disposal fees, and maintenance. To keep your exhibit in tip-top shape, a good estimate (according to Exhibitor Magazine) to use is that repair cost after each show will run you 3-5% of the purchase price.

If you do choose to purchase your exhibit, be sure to explore lease options. A lease will give you the full benefits of purchasing the exhibit, but with the advantage of breaking down the payments over several years.

Renting or purchasing is not a black and white, cookie cutter decision. Every company and situation is unique. Use this information to factor into the other aspects of trade show exhibits to find the best solution for your company.

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