The start of the trade show is 2 hours away. The set up is going great. Everything so far is looking spectacular. Everything except… Except the fact that the pedestals never arrived from your exhibit supplier. OK, don’t panic. Take a deep breath. You can just set the product up on the floor. Um, no. I know! Steve can hold them, he is sometimes called the human pedestal around the office anyway… Wait! Boxes! Cardboard boxes will hold them! No… the product weighs 40 pounds – an accident waiting to happen. Alright Steve, get your haz-mat suit on we’re down to dumpster diving – just find something we can use as a pedestal!
Has this ever happened to you? Maybe it’s a slight over-dramatization. Or maybe not. Either way, no one wants to end up in a frustrating situation like this. That’s why renting vs. buying display pedestals has turned into one of the classic dilemmas for trade show planners. The lasting impression that you want to present is one that is aesthetically pleasing. Having all of your pedestals show up on time should be the least of your worries. So naturally when considering all aspects of your exhibit the question arises: should I rent or should I buy the display pedestals for the upcoming trade shows? Whether you’re a large Fortune 500 company or a small company with a local and regional focus, budget concerns will figure prominently in marketing decisions, especially where the ROI can be somewhat tricky to assess. There is no doubt display pedestals play a significant role in the look and feel of your trade show exhibit. But is it really necessary to invest your money in purchasing your pedestals? Here are five questions every event exhibit planner should ask themselves when considering whether to rent or buy the display pedestals for a trade show.
1. What are my quality requirements?
You put so much time and energy into the planning and preparation of your trade show exhibit. The aesthetic quality of the display pedestals must be top notch. The last thing you want is for this to be a wild card in your exhibit setup. So how do you ensure that the pedestals you will be using meet your high standards? Renting can offer you a tremendous amount of flexibility if your shows are seldom and if it’s acceptable that the quality and style vary a bit from show to show. However, if you have very specific needs for style, color and size, buying will allow you to control all of these aspects. It also allows you to inspect the pedestals for quality control days or weeks before the show to ensure the condition. It can be incredibly frustrating to realize at the last minute that there are damaged or missing pedestals in your rental inventory!
2. What are my time constraints for the upcoming show?
We’ve all had the last-minute trade show entry. Perhaps you have overlapping shows or need additional pedestals for a larger space. The reality is that you just may not have the time to put in an order to purchase pedestals. In these cases, renting gives you the flexibility to work on very short turnaround times. However, many quality pedestal manufacturers have pedestals in stock or pedestals that can be custom-made and shipped within a couple of days. This allows you to remain consistent with the style and color of your other exhibit pieces.
3. What do I need to consider as far as storage?
Let’s be honest: storage is an added long term cost. Sometimes it feels like you need a small warehouse just for your trade show materials! For some, this is just not an option. You can’t keep overhead costs down if you have to figure out how to store bulky trade show exhibits. Renting, however, alleviates this problem altogether. Allowing storage space to be the rental company’s concern solves a big headache. With that said, it’s probably worth the time to really consider just how much space you need to store your pedestals. Many pedestal manufacturers are aware of this problem for businesses and offer portable, collapsible pedestals that allow for easy storage and travel. Suddenly, space will become a non-issue.
4. How often will I be using the pedestals?
This question is really the crux of the issue regarding renting or buying your trade show pedestals. Do you have only one show per year that you attend? Or occasionally do you have two or more shows happening simultaneously that you need to add additional pedestals to your stock? Then renting may be the best option for you. There is simply no need to purchase and store pedestals that get so little use. But maybe you are the trade show king, a real road warrior attending multiple trade shows a year. Perhaps your pedestals do double-time and you need them to display items in your office. Then buying would be the best option. Your pedestals will pay for themselves in no time, and as stated before, you get to control the quality, style and color.
5. What’s it going to cost me?
This is where the rubber meets the road and obviously goes hand in hand with Question 4. Many portable trade show display pedestals can be purchased for as low as $75 and will pay for themselves within 3 or 4 shows. Renting pedestals does offer flexibility especially where storage is concerned, but can become expensive over the long run. Again, the question of cost will be answered by analyzing how much you will be using your pedestals.
The question of renting vs. buying spills over into many aspects of your business, especially when it comes to your marketing materials. In addition, perhaps there are some general philosophical questions that need to be asked: How important are trade shows to your business? Are they part of your long-term marketing strategy? If so, the materials you use will say a lot about your company on the big stage. Consequently, your pedestals will say a lot about you as well. Hopefully, these guidelines will serve to aid you in making the best decision for your unique situation thereby resulting in achieving the right balance between aesthetics and economics.