India's Pioneer Media on TradeFairs

“Before You Hit The Venue” – Chapter 6 – Space Only or Shell Scheme

Stephan Murtagh, the Exhibition Guy in his book titled Before You Hit The Venue gives insights on all aspects of Exhibiting in an Exhibition.

The book will be published in TFT in a series for the benefit of its reader. Enjoy and do write back to us with your feedback.


Chapter 6

Space Only or Shell Scheme

Space Only and Shell Scheme are words as normal as hello for me and form the backbone of exhibition speak but that’s the world I live in. Whilst they are obvious to me they may not be to everyone else so let me explain exactly what they are.

When you book a space at an exhibition you must decide with the Organizer which you want as they are both a different cost.

Space Only – This is exactly as it sounds. The Exhibition Organizer supplies you with the exact amount of floor space you need and nothing else. There are no walls, lights, carpet, or any other fixtures supplied. Taking space only, the Organizer assumes you will be bringing or building your own stand. Things to bear in mind when doing this is that you will need to finish the back of your back wall(s) so it is respectable for the exhibitor that is behind you.

You may also need to consider where and how you will suspend any lighting or name panels for your stand and what is on the floor as there (normally) would be no carpet supplied either. Essentially this offers exhibitors the opportunity to bring their own stand and/or be creative in what they want to build at an exhibition. The downside to this is the final cost of exhibiting tends to be higher.

Advantages of SPACE ONLY

  • You can be creative in what your stand looks like
  • The stand you create can be used for other shows
  • Space only stands can be much more appealing for visitors
  • Space only allows you to be different than standard shell scheme stands

Disadvantages of SPACE ONLY

  • Can be more expensive to build than shell scheme
  • Unless it really is modular it may not be able to be used again
  • Hanging of signage and graphics more costly
  • Insurance for the stand MAY be more expensive
  • It’s a bigger demand on your time

Shell Scheme – This is essentially where the Organizers supplies the stand for you and in the clear majority of cases will include lighting, carpet, name panels and walls. Shell Scheme come in different formats with the height of the walls being either 2.5, 2.75 or 3m in height and vary depending upon where they are in the hall. Check out the exact spec with the organizer. This tends to be a pretty straightforward package and a very cost-effective way of exhibiting albeit a little “boring” looking but if you have a limited budget and limited time it’s a great option and it doesn’t mean you can’t be creative on what’s on the stand and the actual look of it internally. The stand will come with 1, 2 or 3 walls depending upon where you are in the hall and I include a full explanation of each below along with advantages & disadvantages which should help…. When you are choosing your location at an exhibition you must decide on the all-important Location, Location, Location! However, this is not the only choice you need to make as you also need to decide on the specification.

  1. Shell Scheme – Corner stand (open on 2 or 3 sides)
  2. Shell Scheme – Centered Stand (Located in the middle of 2 Other stands)


Shell Scheme – Corner Stand (Open on 2 or 3 sides)

  • Greater visibility than centered stands as more traffic
  • Plenty of wall space for graphics
  • More inviting than centered stands
  • Less wall space for graphics
  • More difficult to staff the more open sides
  • Full interior needs to be more well organized as more visible


Shell Scheme – Centered Stand (Open on 1 side only)

  • More wall space for graphics
  • Easier to staff
  • Build/Stand cost tends to be less
  • Can feel quite claustrophobic!
  • Easier for potential visitors to pass your stand
  • Graphics need to be impactful to catch attention


I’m often asked to recommend which option to go with, but it really depends upon your objectives and the type of product or service you are promoting so what I would say to you is just give me a call at any stage and I can give you some advice…I don’t know everything but happy to point you in the right direction.

Do up a pros v cons for your chosen option of space only or shell scheme.