Shell Scheme vs. Space Only: What’s the Difference?


When you decide to book a space at an exhibition, the first thing you will be asked is do you want to book a shell scheme or space only.  So what’s the difference?  There is no ‘best’ option, each type has its advantages and disadvantages, the choice you make will depend on your budget, timeframe and goals for the exhibition.


Shell Scheme Booths

Shell scheme booths generally have two or three walls made from white panels separated every metre with vertical aluminium poles.  There is usually carpet flooring, a fascia board displaying your company name, lighting and power sockets.  Popular with first time exhibitors, these booths tend to line the walls of the exhibition hall, or grouped together in a block.

The type of lighting provided can differ from exhibition to exhibition, generally additional lighting can be purchased as an optional extra, along with more electrical sockets, display equipment and furniture. Don’t assume that something is included, even if you’ve attended exhibitions before and it was then. The event organiser will usually have a handbook outlining what contractor services are included, and what can be hired at an extra cost. Read through this thoroughly to avoid being caught out.



  • The basics are all included in the package so you don’t need to enlist the help of electricians. You will have power and lighting on your stand already.
  • If you are sticking to a limited budget a shell scheme offers the cheapest option as it includes walls, flooring, power and lighting.
  • As the basic structure is there you will not need to hire an exhibition contractor to build your stand. You can source graphic panels to decorate the walls or use a pop-up or basic modular stand.  These are simple to erect and can be done by one person.
  • Your space is clearly defined by the walls so you know where your area of responsibility is.
  • The nature of the structure means that it is easy to apply graphic panels to the walls yourself.



  • Your booth will be the same shape and size as many other booths in the exhibition hall. This will make it difficult to stand out from your competitors.
  • The enclosed nature of these booths doesn’t encourage visitors to enter your stand.
  • You are often limited by the standard size and shape of the booths – usually 3m by 3m or 6m by 3m.
  • You will often be in an aisle location with other stands that have the same look and feel either side of you so catching visitors attention is not necessarily easy.


How to Make the Most of a Shell Scheme Booth

To make the most of a shell scheme booth you can ask the organiser to remove the ceiling and fascia board from the booth.  You will then have an open space so you can have a custom modular stand that rises above the standard 2.5m. This will enable you to stand out amongst the other shell scheme booths.  You won’t be competing with the large space only stands so you will draw attention by looking different to the other shell schemes.  You can also add a photo floor, along with integrated AV and product display, and eye-catching light features.


Space Only Booths

Space only booths are exactly that – you rent a certain sized space in the exhibition hall which is just marked out with chalk or tape.  It is then your responsibility to fill it with a stand.  You will also need to source flooring, power and lighting.  Space only booths tend to be larger than shell schemes and located in the centre of the hall.



  • You can create a bespoke exhibition stand – you will not have the limitations of any walls so you can configure a stand however you want. This really gives you an opportunity to stand out from your competitors.
  • You can display larger products for instance cars or machinery which won’t fit into a shell scheme booth.
  • You can be in a standalone position with no other companies either side to distract visitors. With a shell scheme you will be in a row of other companies making it difficult to stand out.
  • The open nature of these stands encourages footfall so you are likely to get more visitors.
  • Space only stands tend to be located in the centre of the hall or at intersections – both of these locations will increase the number of visitors to your stand.
  • Get kudos amongst your competitors – the big players in the industry you’re in will book larger, space only stands rather than shell scheme – prove that you’re on top of your game.


  • Cost – you will need to pay for not only the space but a stand, power, lighting and flooring. You’ll probably need an exhibition stand contractor to build your stand for you too.
  • Logistics – needing a bigger stand means you also need to work out how to transport it to the exhibition. Modular stands and pop-ups fold down quite small and can be transported in an estate car or small van.  Custom built stands often require lorries to get them to site.  A good compromise is our custom modular stands which give you the appearance of a custom built stand with the benefits of a modular – they will fold away so can be easily transported, stored and re-used.
  • You will have to construct walls of at least 2.5m on any side that backs onto another stand. If you book a space which is only open on 1 side you will have to build 3 walls which can get expensive.

    Choosing the type of space to book at an exhibition will depend on you budget, timeframe and goals.  Both have advantages and disadvantages.  If it is your first time exhibiting then it’s probably a good idea to start small and book a shell scheme.  This will give you all the services you require, you just need to fill it with graphics or a stand.  If on the other hand you have a large budget and really want to make an impact a space only booth gives you the flexibility to create something special and really stand out from the crowd.  If you would like to discuss this further just call us on 0800 019 0141 or email









    Please Visualise this stand with my branding and send a detailed quotation.