20 Quirky Alternatives To Exhibition Shell Scheme

Skift Take

Stand out from the crowd at exhibitions and trade shows to get your booth noticed by avoiding shell scheme and using one of these quirky alternatives.

A shell scheme is the basic modular design for a booth at an exhibition and is usually rented or provided as a basic frame for exhibitors as part of their exhibition package. Shell scheme can be functional with different coloured walls available. Alternatively you can incorporate bespoke printed designs into the framework. They generally come in one meter square modules that are adaptable to make a closed or open space. It can be cost effective for exhibitors to opt for shell schemes because it clearly defines your space on the show floor and can be “dressed up” as you wish. It can however limit your creativity and make it hard to stand out from your competitors and other exhibitors on the busy trade show floor.

If you have the budget, look at a space-only exhibitor package and creating a bigger impact. By doing something more eye catching by changing up the walls, layout or actual booth area itself this should draw attention and drive more attendees to your booth. Here are 20 inspiring examples to get you started.


1. Jumbo Blocks

Essentially giant, adult Lego blocks, these are highly adaptable and can make walls, furniture and plenty of shapes to create an interesting booth area. They are colourful and will stand out on the exhibition floor, as well as being quite fun to experiment with and put together!

Credit: Tirana Street Kitchen and EverBlock Systems

2. High Rise

Remove the shell scheme and use the upward space for signage and branding, such as banners, aerial decor or an art installation. This can attract attention from a distance and make full use of the generally redundant space above. Be sure to discuss your plans with the exhibition organizer and venue to ensure suitable rigging points are available and determine safe working and erection protocol.

3. Inflatable

Add some fun to your booth by making some or all of it inflatable, for example the walls, adding an adult ball pit, bouncy castle or even incorporating an assault course. This can entice attendees and encourage participation as well as serving as a unique ice breaker for excellent networking. On a smaller scale, you could use balloon arches or structures to make the walls of your booth and brand the balloons as a signage or sponsorship opportunity.

4. Living Walls

Use plants to make a statement with living walls which are a growing event trend (pun intended). The green exhibit options are limitless as you can use any shape or partition wall and turn it into a green blanket that comes alive, from moss to trailing plants and even florals they are bound to create a focal or talking point which will encourage attendees to stop at your booth.

You could also take this literally and use topiary shapes or walls as dividers which can be trimmed to suit your needs and then will continue to grow to be re-used at a later date which would be a hit at sustainable events with eco-conscious attendees.

5. Projections

If you are looking for ways to spruce up your walls without permanently altering them, you can use projections or GOBO effects to display writing, images or colours for your booth. This creates fun effects and can be changed throughout the event to suit different stages of your marketing pitch or showcase. Also, you could show off your technical skills and animate projections in the format of mini movies on the walls which encourage attendees to stay longer while also making the walls more interesting to look at.

6. Cardboard Walls

Light, easy to manoeuvre as well as transport and unpack, cardboard walls and seating can be an excellent and fun idea that will astound attendees. It would be particularly popular at sustainability or eco-friendly themed events and would be easy to brand or sponsor too.

Credit: Cartonlab

7. Banner Backdrops

Many shell schemes allow for printed panels, however the graphics can be interrupted by the partition bars of the structure. To combat this you can use a wider, freestanding banner to act as the back of your booth, negating the need for a shell scheme and these could be experimented with for different effects such as a curved option to make it more enclosed or a video wall and furniture included.

8. Interactive Walls

Encourage attendee participation with installations that make them stop, think and interact such as some of these ideas. You could incorporate giveaway codes or hidden prizes or merely make a fun activity to keep them entertained. If adding gamification, you could also include a leader board and a prize for the overall winner of the day to create follow up opportunities with attendees and keep them coming back to check on where they stand.

9. Digital Screens/Posters

Bring your booth into new age with digital screens or large light posters that can move or adapt as the event goes on or showcase different products, presentations or services in real time. You could also incorporate tablets or touch screens tables to house more information about your brand, booth or products.

Credit: FashionGal

10. Fabrics

Fabric draping and structures can be a budget friendly alternative for your event that allows you to create adaptable space as well as an interesting effect and enclosure depending on ceiling height, hanging points and how high you go. You could also add branding and signage by printing on the fabric itself and using them as “pop-up” banners for something a little different.

11. Multi-Level

Multiple levels can be used to create different areas and utilise high and low space as well as to offer a quieter area to discuss in depth with attendees. For example, the lower level could be used to network while the higher level could have some lounge seating with product displays for serious customers and VIPs.

Credit: Creative Crew

12. Textures

Texture your walls with a variety of different fabrics or designs so that they are more dynamic and 3 dimensional. You could opt for carpeting or leather effect as a covering or you could keep with the theme of your product by using faux grass such as this fun idea.

Credit: Florida Event Decor

13. Go Mobile

Using a cycle trailer or mini funky vehicles can be eye catching and functional. Even though you cannot move around the show floor a repurposed vehicle can offer a self-contained solution that will encourage people to come closer and investigate.

14. Illumination

Lighting can be a useful tool and the right effects can illuminate your booth to effectively stand out. You can opt for a spotlight effect so that your booth is highlighted or you could use floor lighting to brighten up your booth and make it more welcoming. In addition to this you could also try using LED furniture which can change colour or incorporate into your brand or theme as well as create a fun effect.  

15. Secret Booths

With only one entrance and no way to see what is inside without entering going completely secret can add a sense of exclusivity and play on the intrigue of others who want to take a look and explore what you have to offer. The plus side of secretive designs is that they generate a buzz, but they are also easy to disappoint attendees if you can’t deliver when they get inside so ensure to make it engaging and interesting and word will quickly spread, doing most of the hard work for you!

16. Walkway/Tunnels

Create an immersive experience for those visiting your booth by branding, signing or decorating tunnels and walkways to make an enclosed space and add an element of fun. This also allows you to create options to direct the attendees as they walk around and use as much space as possible, plus they are completely adaptable in size to suit your space.

17. Vegetable Crates

Something simple and effective for wall alternatives is to use crates or boxes instead. They are easy to adapt and are a fairly cheap repurpose which would go down well at sustainable events with eco conscious attendees! Also, you could have them in a variety of colours and also create multi levels like in this example when using wooden boards for the floor.

18. Straw Bales

For rustic and outdoor events, straw bales can be an interesting and budget friendly alternative to making your booth and they are incredibly diverse to build walls of any size or shape. You could also easily use them for making different levels and platforms as well as walkways to funnel attendees. Straw bales can also be draped with fabric and double up as a quirky seating idea for attendees to relax or watch a presentation with more comfort.

19. Peek-a-boo Walls

Create walls with cut-outs that allow attendees to peek inside your booth as well as making the surrounds more interesting and avoiding cutting off too much space or light. These walls can also be used to house products and displays to give them a dual purpose and you could have demonstrations through them too to avoid needing a presentation area.

Credit: Exhibit Global

20. Windows

This simple but effective solution can allow attendees to be nosy and peer into your booth and see what is going on, allowing you to create a performance or product testing area even if you have specifically small booth space. Windows or glass transparent walls allow those passing to be drawn in but can be difficult to hear through so still gives them a good reason to come inside.

In Conclusion

Shell schemes have their place but ultimately you need to stand out among the crowd and in order to do this you need a quirky alternative. These ideas are highly adaptable according to your budget, space and brand so there is something for everyone to make sure you are driving the most traffic to your booth.