What is the best type of exhibition stand?

Your exhibition stand is your chance to shine at a trade show or industry event. With so many options out there, how can you possibly be expected to choose the right one for your business and exhibition goals? In this article, we will cover all the different types of exhibition stands and displays in-depth. Here is an overview of what we will be covering.

1. Pull Up and Pop Up Displays

As a low-cost solution to exhibiting, you will often see first-time exhibitors use pull up and pop up displays within a shell scheme space. These types of displays leave you with a standalone graphic that you can position on your floor space.

2. Shell Scheme Graphics

Shell scheme graphics are large posters printed with your branding that slot into a shell scheme space. They are low cost and take up no space but the end result can look somewhat thrown together. Either aluminium poles will break up your branding or panels could misalign. You’re unlikely to be left with a seamless finish.

3. Modular Displays

A modular display is a system that allows you to connect multiple panels together to create unique, graphic cladded shapes. They are reusable and somewhat reconfigurable however they are extremely limited in terms of product display and audiovisual (AV) options. The end result is a large display that fits your space

4. Basic Exhibition Stand Systems

These systems offer a three-dimensional exhibition stand that people can walk around and interact with. They are designed to your specification and can form unique shapes that display systems can’t. These stands can be reused as long as the size and orientation of your floor space remains almost exactly the same.

5. Custom Modular Exhibition Stands

A custom modular exhibition stand marries traditional custom-built stands with modular displays. The system is reusable, reconfigurable and is cladded in bespoke custom graphics. It can also be designed with unique features, product display and integrated AV solutions. A custom modular exhibition stand is key to sustainable exhibiting.

6. Custom Build Exhibition Stands

Custom-built exhibition stands are built with your design in mind, you can have almost any shape or structure that you want. These are the most costly exhibits but are seen as an easy route to getting noticed on the trade show floor. Often, the materials used will be unsustainable and more than likely to end up in the skip after the show.

There are lots of factors that you need to consider when choosing an exhibition stand such as budget and ease of assembly. For a simple overview of all of the types of exhibition stands, check out this chart.

Clearly, the overall champion is the custom-modular. This is a sustainable, reusable and reconfigurable exhibition stand that allows you to display products, AV, and draw in crowds in a unique way. Every business is different and you may find a different solution that will help you achieve your goals.

Different Types of Exhibition Stands

There are loads of great reasons why your business should exhibit. But it’s not as easy as clicking your fingers and having hundreds of leads fall on to your lap.


sing your exhibition takes time. At least 9-12 months before you exhibit you should be setting objectives, finding the right show, and deciding your budget. Before you know it it’s time to book a floor space and find an exhibition stand designer to make your booth dreams a reality.

Hold on a minute. There is more than one type of exhibiting option . If you’re new to exhibitions you might not know the difference between a display and an exhibition stand.

An exhibition display provides you with 2D graphic that display your branded message. These can stand alone, be fixed to the wall of a shell scheme or be fixed to each other to create a large format graphic.

An exhibition stand has a lot more to it. Exhibition stands are 3D structures built for businesses to showcase their products or services. The walls, or framework, can be cladded in your graphics to display a branded message but you have much more opportunity in terms of structure, design, AV integration and product showcasing.

There’s a lot to get your head around but don’t panic. This exhibiting guide tells you everything you need to know about the different types of exhibition stands and displays. Feel confident choosing a trade show booth that matches your business and exhibition goals.

Pull up and Pop Up Displays

The pull up banner is the quickest display to assemble. You can set up this display on your own in seconds. A standard pull up banner is 2 metres high, and the width can vary depending on your needs.

Pop up displays do just that, they pop up. They take slightly longer to assemble and you need to fix the graphics yourself. Usually, these are printed on to PVC or sheets of fabric, but recently we have seen exhibition stand designers using different materials such as cardboard or honeycomb board.

You will notice pull up and pop up displays used within shell scheme spaces. You can use pull up banners are as standalone displays whereas pop up displays can also line shell schemes walls. There ease of assembly, portability and low-cost make them a safe option for first-time exhibitors.

If you can’t decide between a pop up banner or a pull up display then here are the three key differences:

  • Time

You can erect a pull up banner in seconds, whereas a pop up exhibition display takes longer (depending on the size of your stand and your experience).

  • Size

Pull up and pop ups are typically 2m high, but pop ups tend to be much wider. A typical pull up banner is 75cm – 100cm whereas a pop up display is between 2m and 4m.

  • Cost

Pull up banners are extremely affordable, often costing less than £100. Pop up displays vary in price, as they do in size. One of the biggest mistakes exhibitors make is choosing their display or exhibition stand based on its price, rather than its quality or ability to attract crowds in a busy hall. Although the cost will likely be an important factor, you should see it as a long term investment.

Shell Scheme Graphics

Shell schemes are a type of exhibition stand in themselves because the structure is already there. The flooring is in, there are power sockets and lighting in place and the framework makes for an easy display option.

A shell scheme space is a cost-effective exhibiting option. It requires less management as the essentials are included in the package. You have options when it comes to the type of exhibition stand you want to use inside a shell scheme space.

The framework can be used to display graphic panels. With this style of visuals, the outcome isn’t always perfect. When using shell scheme graphics your branding could be broken up with aluminium poles every metre. If you go for a seamless graphic, that covers the poles, you are relying on the structure and the graphic marrying up perfectly. This is always a bit of a lottery.

The final way to use this type of exhibition stand is to mix ‘n’ match the available options. Depending on the size of your shell scheme you could create a custom modular structure and still have graphic panels in the shell scheme framework. This is most commonly demonstrated with pull up banners and shell scheme graphic panels, which is an extremely cost-effective way of mix ‘n’ matching different display options.

Modular Displays

Modular displays are made up of different blocks which can be constructed for an exhibition and then taken down, stored and reused. This makes it a sustainable exhibiting option. Essentially, this type of display bridges the gap between pull up banners and pop up displays and the exhibition stands we will cover later in this guide.

Setting up a modular display may be slightly more difficult, but still easily done. The only disadvantage is that your design is limited. This type of exhibition stand is a 2D structure that offers little wow factor when compared with custom-build or custom modular exhibition stands.

Building a modular display is similar to building a tent. You connect poles to form a pop up structure which you fix graphics on to. The result is a large graphic that looks like several banners or pop ups stuck together to fit your space.

Basic modular displays are good options for exhibitors on a low budget however, these stands will leave you with elements of the structure on show. The feet take up a considerable amount of floor space, something worth noting if you need room for a meeting area or to display products.

In terms of structure and design, this display lacks anything extraordinary. Essentially, the basic modular display leaves you with a large graphic wall. You can bend or curve it (depending on the system) but you won’t be able to showcase your products or draw in a crowd with additional design features, integrated AV and lighting.

Basic Exhibition Stand Systems

As we move through the different exhibiting options, the solutions begin to get more expensive. A basic exhibition stand is the first three dimensional stand we will cover in this exhibiting guide, and has some clear advantages when compared with the display options above.

A basic stand system can be customised to fit a floor space. These tend to be sold as a package, with additional fees for AV and unique design features such as added height. The larger your space the more expensive your stand will be. It is your responsibility to cover the walls. That being said, they are far cheaper than custom-builds.

At the lower end of the price scale, the basic system is a favourable option for businesses who are serious about exhibiting. The stands are designed to fit your space and can create shapes that basic displays can’t.

With a basic stand system you have options to display products and utilise AV. Although other design features aren’t available, it is clear to see why a business would pay more for a basic exhibition stand than a modular display.

Of course, these types of stands have disadvantages. Firstly, there can be difficulty when it comes to reusability. The stand is designed to fit a certain floor space, so you can’t reuse it unless you book the same space size and orientation.

Secondly, as it is a low budget alternative, the materials used can reflect the price and look tired. Some systems use a printed fabric cover that wraps around a frame almost like a fitted bedsheet. Others use PVC panels or foam board

Custom-Modular Exhibits

If you are serious about exhibiting, and understand the value of having a huge presence at a trade show, there are two options when it comes to the type of exhibition stand you need. The first of these options is a custom modular exhibition stand.

A custom modular stand has all the perks of a basic modular exhibit. It is a reusable system, but a custom modular exhibition stand is also 100% reconfigurable. This means you can use it at every event and adapt the shape of it to suit your needs.

What makes this type of stand better than its basic counterparts is the design. A custom modular exhibition stand can be built to your specs, for any floor space including shell scheme and space only.

Walking around an expo, you’ll notice how many businesses use basic displays with cabinets. A bespoke custom modular allows you to build showcases into your exhibition stand, use seamless floor to ceiling graphics, lighting, and AV to attract attention. Take a look at our portfolio to see how effective these features are.

Custom modular exhibitions are an example of sustainable exhibiting. The framework is reusable and reconfigurable so you can continue to use your stand throughout your entire exhibition calendar. Yet, there is absolutely no compromise on design – this type of exhibition stand will look great and is a fantastic conversation starter.

HB Ingredients recently won the Best Small Stand Award at the Ice Cream and Artisanal Food Expo. They used custom design elements to create their own immersive ice cream parlour experience. This would not have been possible with an exhibition display.

A custom modular exhibition stand is about more than just your reputation. It can boost the success rate of your show and achieve your goals. It is a sustainable option for anyone looking to reduce their impact on the environment.

There is no denying that type of exhibition stand is more expensive. This is why a custom modular stand is better suited to serious exhibitors. That being said, you should see this cost as an investment because you can reuse your stand over and over again. Overall, you’ll be dramatically reducing the exhibition stands cost per show each time, while also making the impact you need.

Custom Build

The second type of exhibition stand that serious exhibitors want is a custom build. These stands tend to be the belle of the ball as they sit in prime locations and are built according to your specifications.

A custom build has the advantage of being unique. Often, exhibition stand contractors will go out of their way to architect something gravity defying. The entire exhibition stand is built at the event for you using materials like MDF, PVC, metals, glass, paints and vinyl so the only limit is your imagination.

Custom build stands give you authority at trade show. People know they are more expensive than other exhibiting solutions, and the prime locations help to establish your brands reputation within the industry.

You can build whatever structure you want, including meeting rooms and office spaces. The shapes that can be constructed offer you a real competitive advantage.

A massive disadvantage of custom builds is the cost and the generally negative environmental impact . Each stand is built for one event, usually using harmful materials, and with few reusable elements. After the show, the custom-build stand is likely torn down and disposed of. You don’t have to take a Greta Thunberg standpoint to understand the effects that this could have on the environment and your businesses reputation.

The single use of a custom build means that you can expect to pay the full price of the stand every time you attend an event. This is the exact opposite of the way the pricing system works with a custom modular exhibition stand.

Another point worth noting is that, despite being known as custom builds, your exhibition stand contractor may try to limit the amount of graphics you use on your stand. With the cost of materials and labour to consider, graphic design and printing will likely be cut back on to reduce costs.

Choosing the right Type of Exhibition Stand for you

Making sure you choose the right exhibition stand is imperative to your success at a show. Your team will perform better if they feel confident about the way the stand looks. This guide tells you everything you need to know about the six types of exhibition stands to help you make the right choice.

Custom modular exhibition stands clearly come out on top for sustainability, dynamic design, cost-effectiveness and impact. We’re not biased, we just know a good thing when we see one. Depending on your needs, you may find a better solution in this exhibition guide.

If you’d like to speak to one of our experts and talk through your options then give our design team a call on 01202 723 500 or email them at designteam@quadrant2design.com.

For more useful tips, see more of our exhibiting guides.