Exhibition stand types

Types of exhibition stands: Row, Corner, 3-sides open and Island – What are the differences and the (dis)advantages?

Using our isy® DESIGN SELECTOR you can easily choose the best exhibition stand design for your next trade show. You can also filter results based on stand type and footprint.

There are four types of exhibition stands. Well, technically six, but two of these are not very common.

These types are:

  1. Row exhibition stand
  2. Corner exhibition stand
  3. 3-sides open exhibition stand
  4. island exhibition stand
  5. Walk-through exhibition stand
  6. Multi storey exhibition stand

Which kind of exhibition stand you should or can rent most often depends on the size and location of the area you are renting at your trade show. Row type exhibition stands almost always have the smallest footprint whilst Island stands are the biggest. Corner and head stands are in between.

For example, if you want to rent a 24 sqm (8x3 metres or 6x4 metres) you can forget Island stands as these are usually bigger than 60 sqm. However, a Head or Corner stand of 24 sqm is definitely possible.

Row, corner, 3-sides open or island exhibition stand?

Type exhibition stand row stand
Type exhibition stand corner stand
Type exhibition stand 3-sides open
Type exhibition stand island stand

What are the characteristics as well as advantages and disadvantages of the stand types

Row exhibition stands

Stands of the type Row are the standard at many trade shows. They are only open at the front, and visitors can pass the stand at only one side. This means that exhibitors have neighbouring stands on both the right and left side.

The advantages and disadvantages of Row type stands

++ great availability

++ lots of (wall)space for graphics and brand communication

++ relatively cheap

-- less customer exposure

-- step-up threshold (less accessibility)

-- harder to create a unique and memorable design for this type

Corner exhibition stands

A corner stand is open on two sides. Trade show attendees can walk past the stand on both, so your stand is visible from two sides.

The advantages and disadvantages of Corner type stands

++ lots of customer exposure

++ accessible

++ lots of space for graphics and brand communication

++ more opportunities for creative and memorable stand design

-- there are fewer corner spaces available at trade shows. Especially when wanting to rent a smaller size.

3-sides open exhibition stand

A head stand is open on 3 sides. Only the back of the stand is closed. Visitors can view and access the stand from the front, right and left.

The advantages and disadvantages of a 3-sides open exhibition stand

++ lots of customer exposure

++ accessible

+/- somewhat less space to display graphics (in comparison to Corner stands)

++Lots of opportunities for creative stand design

-- You have to rent more area at the trade show as head stands are almost always quite large

Island exhibition stands

An Island type exhibiiton stand is open on all four sides and therefore accessible for visitors from all around

The advantages and disadvantages of island exhibition stands

++ maximum customer exposure

++ accessible

-- less space for graphics and brand communication

-- less clear, island stands require a specific approach for presenting from the stand crew

-- Island are exceptionally large, so you have to rent more space (= more expensive). For this reason, Island stands are often rented by industry leaders and large companies.

There are also two other types of stands I will mention here for completeness’ sake:

Walk-through exhibition stand

This type of stand is rare. Here the path the visitors take at the trade fair goes through the exhibition stand. Your exhibition stand will be split across either side.

Multi level exhibition stand

As the name says, this stand has an extra storey which is accessible via stairs. These stands therefore have a lot more space for showcasing your brand and products. However, multi storey stands are usually rather expensive to construct.

My advice for renting a small stand/trade show plot

When renting a small exhibition area at your trade show, say something below 20 sqm, you will notice that most of these stands are Row type stands.

I.e. the stands which are lined up next to one another. While this is not a problem, as it is very possible to create an outstanding and memorable stand through good stand and graphic design, I would recommend trying to rent a Corner stand rather than a Row stand. This is because the second open side, and therefore overall better accessibility and customer exposure, makes your stand much more noticeable and attractive to visitors. And tradeshow attendees will be more easily able to reach your stand.

However, there are almost always a lot fewer Corner than Row stands, which makes it harder to get a Corner plot. Therefore, it is important to sign up as early as possible and ask the trade show organiser for a floor plan of the exhibition centre. As the best areas are obviously rented out first. Sometimes you can also get a corner stand by renting a slightly larger area at the trade show, if these cases I would consider that option and spend a little bit more for a much better location.

Is an Island type stand always the best option when renting a large area?

Out of the different exhibition stand types, Island exhibition stands have the most visibility. Visitors can see and access it from all sides, giving you maximum customer exposure. But, is an Island stand always the best choice? No, I don’t think so. While I think that a Corner stand is always better than a Row stand, an Island stand is not necessarily the superior option to a Head stand. When renting an Island stand there are a range of special considerations to be made.

Being open to visitors on all sides also means that the stand is much harder to oversee at all times. Therefore, I would advise placing one of your exhibition team members on each side of the stand.

Furthermore, the open sides also mean that there is less space for displaying graphics and other brand communication media than with the other stand types. The design of an Island stand takes place mostly at the centre of the stand, as you want to keep all sides accessible. Therefore, you have less opportunity to display graphics, texts, logos, etc.

Already know which type of stand you want for your next trade show?

Use our isy® DESIGN SELECTOR to view all our designs, including their full-service rental package prices. Would you rather have a consultation about which stand type is best for your brand, product and company? Contact one of my colleagues, and we will gladly support you with our knowledge and experience, to find the perfect stand design for you.

Michel Rijnberg exhibition marketing book

Michel Rijnberg
Exhibition marketing specialist & author from Messemarketing: So geht's!