Current thinking in the exhibit industry often treats rental and purchase as alternative financial strategies aimed at accomplishing different ends. These days virtually any trade show display of any type or quality can be rented or purchased. In some markets (such as North America and Europe) rental provides lower initial (and even lower overall costs due to costs of trade show exhibit ownership while delivering greater flexibility) whereas purchase provides certain undeniable accounting benefits. Consumers of trade show displays in these markets must weigh their options to determine what works best for their situation. In other markets (such as most of Asia) raw materials and labour are priced such that rental is rarely competitive. This is due to the disposable Build and Burn approach, which is so prevalent.
These exhibits are properties owned by an outside vendor (either the show general contractor, or an outside rental exhibit company), which are stock properties that are rented to the exhibitor in a standard configuration, or a modified version thereof. Rental exhibits use these stock properties to provide a basic structure for the exhibitor, which can then be augmented by custom graphics, easily applied and removed finishes, and other cosmetic augmentation. Inventory rentals normally require the services of an on site labour source (show general contractor, or a labor contractor approved through show management) to set up, and often the rental exhibit provider can provided those services as part of the rental package to the exhibitor.