When Americans hear "rental exhibits" they may be inclined to think of booths or traveling art exhibits that are rented for a short duration and featured in a museum. However, the phrase means something quite different to British business men and women. When you are an American business executive discussing events with a British executive, you will need the following guide to understanding what these normal British phrases mean.
Roughly translated from the Queen's English to American English, "rental exhibits" are actually conference venues. They are places where various-sized groups of people can commune for different events. Conference and lecture halls, orchestra and music rooms, special rooms reserved in museums, and the like are what your British counterparts are referring to. Similar places are for short-term rent in the United States as well, but they just go by another moniker or categorical term.
Discussing a "Meeting" vs. a "Conference" vs. a "Convention"
The nuances of the Queen's English may be confusing to Americans, despite the origins of American English. Really, the differences among "meeting," "conference," and "convention" are quite vast and are really not very much like the American versions. For example, a British meeting rarely consists of more than two or three people and is meant to be more of a tete-a-tete. Americans, on the other hand, can fill a room around a table and refer to that as a meeting.
A "conference" and a "convention" are even more confusing. Conferences British style refer to the type of meeting that Americans often call a meeting; several people in the same room discussing similar interests in business. Conventions, on the other hand, are meant to be networking sources and training sessions for Americans, while they are often fun, engaging entertainment for the British (e.g., a Dr. Who convention vs. a convention on the applications of lasers in surgery--see the difference?).
What This Means When Conducting Business with a Brit
Now that you understand more about renting space for the purpose of conducting business with a Brit, you can talk about how to arrange such things "over the pond." Usually it helps to discuss the number of people who will be in attendance right away. Knowing that you expect to meet with an entourage of fifty in tow makes a huge difference in what type of venue your British counterpart will arrange to rent (if needed). It also clarifies what type of encounter you expect to create—meeting, conference or convention—which is very important to how things play out with meeting spaces, times, and pricing.