Five advantages of exhibiting in a shell scheme & five advantages of exhibiting space only    

If you are new to exhibiting, you probably have a host of questions. Our customers often ask us which trade show is the right one for them or what they should do next in their exhibition organisation. As experts in the exhibition industry, we’re more than happy to give our advice.

The most common thing that people ask us about is floor space. You want to surround yourself with complementary neighbours who could help you generate more leads. Then you have to consider the flow of traffic. Is being by the door a good idea? There is so much to think about when booking your floor space, luckily we’ve already written this handy exhibition guide.

The first thing we tell people to think about is whether they want to go with a shell scheme or space only. Just this question alone is enough to worry first-time exhibitors. If you’ve never exhibited or been to a trade show before then how are you supposed to know the difference? This guide will tell you 5 reasons to go for a shell scheme space and 5 reasons to go for space only.

We aim to make your decision easy. And don’t worry, our exhibition stands look great in both so we have no reason to be biased.

shell scheme or space only pros and cons table

What is a Shell Scheme?

A shell scheme is a partition system that exhibition organisers use to segment the floor and divide out the space. They offer a very basic structure, including walls and flooring that exhibitors can use to create a booth. Popular with first-time exhibitors, shell schemes are common on the trade show floor.

Five Reasons to Choose a Shell Scheme

Now that you know exactly what a shell scheme is, here are five reasons you might want to choose one.

Clear Lines of Responsibility

The walls, fascia and grid systems clearly show the space that you, as an exhibitor, are responsible for. This means that you can keep everything neat and tidy, but also you don’t need to worry about any liability issues.

Lighting and Electrics are all part of the Package

Instead of searching the internet for lighting and power supplies, you can sit back as the event organisers have that installed in your shell scheme at no extra cost. This makes it pretty straight forward when it comes to installing AV on your exhibition stand.

No Structure Necessary

Choosing a shell scheme means that a very basic structure is already there. You don’t have to find exhibition stand designers (although, if you want to make a lasting impression, we’d suggest you do). You don’t have to worry about building a structure to hide your enclosed walls. The existing shell scheme structure even meets the enforced 2.5 metre height restriction.

Easy to Apply Graphics

Think of a shell scheme like a tent structure, with lots of interlocking poles, grid systems and fascia. The way that these structures are put together makes it easy to apply graphics yourself.

These graphics might not be the most dynamic, usually consisting of pop-up banners, slide-in panels or posters. However, you aren’t tied to these solutions. The Prestige Events System is reusable and reconfigurable (and it fits perfectly inside a shell scheme).


A shell scheme is (generally speaking) the more cost-effective option when it comes to floor space. Floor space is sold per m2, with both shell scheme and space only costing the same price. Shell scheme becomes more cost-effective because of the additional products and services that are included, such as flooring and electricity.

Recently, we have noticed a handful of event organisers charging more for shell schemes than they do space only options. This is the reason we say that shell schemes are generally the most cost-effective option. We’ll keep an eye on this pricing strategy trend. If it takes off then we’ll have to update this guide!

What is Space Only?

Space only is exactly what it sounds like. An empty space, on the floor, marked out with tape or chalk. With this type of floor space, it is your responsibility to create a structure or ‘cover your walls’.

Five Reasons to Choose a Space Only

Now that you know exactly what space only entails, here are five reasons you might want to choose one.

Bespoke Exhibition Experience

With an empty space to fill, the exhibition floor is your oyster. Your exhibition stand design team can create something bespoke off the back of a quick brief from you. You aren’t confined to the walls of a shell scheme. You can create any shape, any design, but most importantly you can use a space only to create a fully integrated brand storytelling experience.

Display Larger Products

You don’t have to fill your space with a make-shift branded experience. The space only floor spaces tend to be larger than shell schemes, meaning you can display larger products. This is particularly effective for businesses that specialise in big products. Merlo UK had a huge presence at Lamma 2020 and made the most of their space only island by showcasing four of their tractors and combine harvesters.


With a shell scheme space, you will be positioned amongst many other exhibitors which means fighting harder to stand out. This can work for or against you, depending on how effective your stand is, how good your booth staff are and who your neighbouring exhibitors are.

When you choose space only you won’t have these worries, as these spaces tend to be positioned away from the shell schemes. Often, these spaces are positioned in prime locations where you are guaranteed a large flow of traffic.

Easy Access

A huge perk of exhibiting on a standalone space is the ease of access. The flow of traffic is more likely to interact with you if it is easier to get onto your booth and talk to your representatives. If you imagine a trade show floor, the aisles lined with shell schemes tend to adopt a single file traffic system. This can put visitors off stopping for you or make them miss you altogether.


The big players in your industry are likely to choose space only. They have larger budgets and want to ensure they make a lasting impression with a stand-out custom modular or custom-built exhibition stand. Plus, they want to ensure they get the footfall necessary to generate an impressive ROI. By choosing space only, you are positioning your brand as a serious competitor in your industry.

long narrow exhibition stand

Merlo UK Ltd exhibiting at LAMMA 2019


To sum it all up…

Now that you have five advantages for both floor spaces you can make an informed decision based on your business and exhibition goals. You really can stand out and make a lasting impression at an exhibition with an eye-catching stand. That means that the floor space isn’t the be all and end all. Spaces are allocated on a first come, first serve basis so you, unless you are organised you might not get what you want.

The best thing to do is to fill your shell scheme or space only with an attention grabbing exhibition stand. Draw in crowds with interactive AV, unique design features and dynamic design.

Give us a call on 01202 723 500 or email us at to find out how we can make that happen for you.

For more exhibiting hints and tips, take a read of our other guides to get the most out of your exhibition.