‘Space Only’ not ‘Shell Scheme’ – how to get a bigger bang for your buck!


If you are exhibiting for the first time – or you are an experienced small-scale exhibitor – buying a shell scheme might look an inexpensive and easy route to exhibiting. But the limitations on what you can achieve that is visually stimulating means that you can probably get a bigger bang for your buck by buying space only and designing, building and installing a small modular or hybrid stand. Plus… with the correct brief, it can be re-installable and save you money in the long run.

What is a ‘shell scheme’?

A shell scheme is a common exhibition industry term to describe a small stand or booth at an exhibition that, usually, comes in one metre breaks or modules (hence why it’s described as a modular system) and is arranged by the exhibition organiser. Buying a ‘shell scheme’ exhibition stand benefits from:

  • Carpet
  • Walls
  • Power point
  • Name plate
  • Furniture

What is a ‘space only’ stand?

‘Space only’ simply refers to renting only the floor space, for dimensions on offer. This option is a lot cheaper for exhibitors and allows them to create a more bespoke option – a space only exhibition stand!

Why ‘space only’ over ‘shell schemes’?

It is commonly agreed that you only get a few seconds to grab someone’s attention when exhibiting at an exhibition with a small space. Therefore, maximising that opportunity requires something that is visually stimulating and, importantly, on brand. Whilst the shell scheme is the quicker and easier option (pay your fees and turn up with a pop-up type system and away you go), they are identical to one another and you are limited to that which you are provided by the organisers – and that may not complement or support your look and feel. The carpet/flooring might not be right for you; the walls are bare and look clinical; there is little opportunity to express your brand appropriately; any furniture that you hire will have limitations (unless you bring it with you). Therefore, you (the exhibitor) become lost and have no ‘stand-out’ in the noise that is the same coloured floors and wall.

Buying space will be cheaper – therefore, liberating budget for designing, building and installing something that will suit your brand. To a degree (and according to budget), you can choose your floor; dress the walls; have greater choice on furniture.

The ‘shell scheme’ vs ‘space only’ debate, therefore, hinges on a few things – namely:

  • The time and effort you need to find a partner
  • Managing that relationship

Conversely, acquiring a shell scheme will:

  • Cost significantly more per square metre
  • Require you, the exhibitor, to lug the materials to the event; install; breakdown and remove

The latter being time consuming and exhausting when you are trying to be at the top of your game and have been standing up for two or three days.

From our experience, clients who have exhibited in shell schemes and migrated to space only have the same amount of challenges – just different ones. The outcome, however, is a hands-free experience that is on brand and, importantly, provides a better return on investment!

To follow are a number of small space only exhibition stands that we call ‘modular’ or ‘hybrid’ that, probably, cost about the same as a shell scheme when all things, including time, have been accounted for.



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