Whether you choose a re-usable exhibit or opt for a single use stand (a.k.a build and burn) is truly an individual decision. There are a lot of misconceptions around the re-usable trade show stand option and so this post is all about sharing some of the details to make your decision a little bit easier.

Before I get stuck in, I want to preface this by saying that we offer both options to our clients and don’t favour one over the other. They are just different and what we recommend depends each client. 

The main contributing factors to consider are budget and number of shows you plan to do. 


I hate leading with budget. So much so, that we pride ourselves on understanding a client’s needs before ever talking costs. Trouble is, if you don’t have the money. You don’t have the money. It’s not so simple offer you a cost for a custom either (which is annoying, I know), but if you think about it… It’s custom 🙂 

One client’s idea of nice is different to the next. What one person considers expensive, another see’s as mere loose change. The quality of finishes as well as the bells and whistles each add vary each time so it’s a difficult one to answer. It’s not off the shelf or out of a catalogue. Custom means you get a bespoke exhibit that is truly yours. 

Number of shows

If you plan on doing one show in a blue moon, maybe a custom stand isn’t for you because you would have to contend with storage costs and the potential that your branding may completely change between exhibitions.

If, however, you plan to do more than 1 show a year it’s worth considering because there are some serious perks that come hand-in-hand with a custom exhibition stand:

  • Quality control 
  • Making an investment in bespoke elements that speak to your brand personality
  • Don’t have to reinvent the wheel each time because the foundations of your structure are ready and waiting
  • As an income producing asset you can actually lease the construction of your exhibit
  • Cost-effective over multiple shows
  • Companies with multiple divisions could share the structure between them, making their budgets work harder
  • You get to develop a strong relationship with your stand builder, which brings less stress and worry because the process is systemised and you know what you’re going to get each time
  • Time you would have spent coordinating design can be channeled towards your exhibit strategy and how to get the most benefit from the show

Long list 🙂

Now for the factors to consider, which aren’t really negatives if you’re doing enough shows to reach the magic tipping point.

  • Storage costs – when your beautiful trade show display is not working its butt off, it will need a resting place. 
  • Crates – It’s worthwhile investing in the packaging that will store and transport your expo stand. We would go as far as refusing to work with you if you wanted to cross this line item off your shopping list – It’s that important! You would hate us if you went to use it again and your exhibit was dinged up because it got damaged by a wayfork forklift or rattled about in a truck. It’s a non-negotiable if you want to look decent each time. 
  • Transport – Logistics are just part of tradeshows. People hate paying for things they can’t see on show day, but they have to happen. You pay this whether you do a build and burn or own a reusable but the main difference lies in how far you transport it. If you are a Sydney based business and have a show in Adelaide, opting to do a for a build and burn means you could find a hire stand locally, but if you own a reusable stand, you’ll be wanting to truck it over. It’s not a big deal, but it’s a line item that needs to be considered. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Our messaging changes each time

This really isn’t a problem if we know about it ahead of time. More often than not, there are key attributes that remain constant. Brand colours, logos, furniture etc. It’s just one wall or feature piece that needs to change. When you have a reusable stand it’s that single feature piece that becomes your focus for each shows. The rest is looked after.

We have different stand sizes at each show

Again, not a problem if we know about it ahead of time. We have clients that go in shows ranging from a 3×2, 3×3, 6×2, right through to a 6×9 (with different head heights too). During the creative phase, once we agree on a direction, we just make sure we take the time to do working drawings to allow us to use in each setup.

We want to use local labour to keep costs down

Totally understandable. No point sending people around the country unnecessarily. So we don’t 🙂 
Every business is different, but the way our business is set up involves sending a site supervisor only and we call upon people in our black little book to do the heavy lifting on site. It’s a great workaround which offers clients peace of mind knowing a representative is there to oversee everything and act in their best interests, while keeping costs lower. 

Each division looks after their own budget

This is a tricky one and really depends on your business and it’s politics. For some, this setup works well. From where I sit, it’s a bit backwards if a brand is doing a hell of a lot of shows and it isn’t coordinating them from one central place to maintain brand integrity across all events – That’s just me being bossy though… My view doesn’t have to be the best view. Each to their own, right?!

*** Is this all sounding too much? ***
Book a strategy call with us today and let’s see how we can help you stand out from the crowd.

The different types of single-use exhibits:

  • A full custom that is single use
  • A hire stand made from system
  • A hybrid custom – Hire elements mixed with some custom to look bespoke

A build and burn, single-use exhibit has its place, but keep in mind that you’re starting from a blank canvas each time. Whether that means you are building from a system stand or custom elements that will be tossed out afterwards, the design phase will still require more involvement from you to get the concept into production.

Above all else, I want to stress that if you want to just tick a box, get a trade show stand sorted and get it off your list, all these costs and things to weigh up feel like big decisions. I’ve talked before about how if you don’t consciously invest time and a little bit of money to present yourself properly, you might as well not exhibit. People match the quality of your stand, the vibe they get from your staff and deduce your key message in the time it takes them to walk up to your stand. If it doesn’t rate well, they will simply move onto the next.

But, if you’re able to get your exhibit to work its butt off so its generating serious results, all of these points become irrelevant as it’s earning its keep.

Want to work with a tradeshow strategist to develop your own plan of attack for maximum results?
Get in touch today and let’s book in a time to chat.

Yours in Exhibiting,
The team at The Exhibit Company