Shell scheme Coffee festival with Motive Exhibitions
Shell Scheme Stand | Trade Stand Design & Build, Motive Exhibitions

Shell scheme stand or space only? What’s the difference and what’s best? It’s a question we get asked quite a bit.

There is often confusion about the different types of exhibition stands and spaces you can book. So here’s the answer to end the confusion.


Aluminium poles and panels are used to partition individual exhibition stand spaces or shell schemes. They offer a blank canvas ready to bring your brand to life. You can either attach graphics directly to the walls or look at other systems to make the space more personal to you.

  • The structure is standardised and the space you are offered shell schemes by metre breaks. Hence why you will be offered 2x3m, 4x3m, 6x2m etc.
  • Depending on where you book, your stand will have 1, 2 or 3 sides. 
  • It is worth noting that you cannot simply remove a wall to open up your space – your neighbouring exhibitor will not be impressed. Always ensure the space you book works for the ideas and budget you have in mind.
  • As part of your package, your space will come with carpet, lighting and power. It is worth considering whether the allocated 500w watts of power will be enough to run what you want.

Shell schemes are the most common type of stand. They are a uniform way in which exhibition organisers put together designated spaces for exhibitors. 

Who is a shell scheme ideal for?

  • Start-ups and small businesses
  • Businesses looking to dip their toe into exhibiting before coming to a space-only stand
  • Businesses exhibiting on a tight budget


A shell stand is a great way to exhibit if you are making the ‘step up’ from pop-up graphics or this is your first foray into a large scale exhibition. The only limitation with this space is your imagination! Restricted by size but not creativity. 


  • Do it on a budget and you’ll disappear into a busy exhibition hall where everyone is out to get prospects interested in their products or services.
  • Your space is predetermined.
  • You cannot exceed the maximum height of 2.4m

Unless you book a corner plot, you will be mid aisle with plenty of competition around you

shell scheme stand by Motive Exhibitions
Space Only Exhibition Stand Motive  Exhibitions
Space Only with modular stand hire
Shell scheme stand with backlitl lightbox

Space only stands

Space only is exactly that. It is an allocated plot of exhibition space. Space-only allows you to book an area without any pre-existing structure. Most exhibition halls will have rows sectioned off and will sell space by the square metre

  • Your space will be marked out with tape or chalk ready for build
  • Stand space can be bought by the metre
  • There are less space-only stands available. If you want it. Secure it.

Who is a space only ideal for?

  • Mid to large businesses
  • Brands looking to make a splash
  • Businesses who need to showcase large equipment
  • Stands that will need demo, meeting and produce areas


  • You can completely personalise your space with a modular or custom exhibition stand.
  • You will be away from the shell scheme stands and in a prime location with guaranteed footfall
  • With more space, you have freedom and flexibility on the stand design and build


  • You will have to supply flooring, lighting and power to the stand
  • The space and stand build will be more expensive

Space only is not something we’d recommend you build yourself. You have a limited time to build and even less to dismantle at the end. Unless you’ve got a large toolkit, you’re light on your feet and drive a transit on a daily basis, you’ll struggle to meet the expected 30mins you have to dismantle after the exhibition closes!

InstallerSHOW 2022 | Modular Exhibition Stands | Motive Exhibitions

in knots with exhibition terminology?

We’ve pulled together an   A-Z of exhibition stand   terminology and unravelled the difference between a rig and RAMS. Make sure you bookmark it for future reference!

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David Hennessy

David Hennessy

David Hennessy is our Managing Director and co-founder of Motive Exhibitions. Based in St Neots we help businesses across Cambridgeshire, Bedfordshire and Northamptonshire exhibit across the UK and beyond.


Motive Exhibitions, 3 Orion Court, Ambuscade Road, Colmworth Business Park, Eaton Socon, St. Neots, PE19 8YX

01480 597 444  |

Shell Scheme vs Space Only – What's The Difference? 1