Shipping your display properties and equipment to a trade show is a costly expense. There are many variables that will not only help you maximize your budget, but can also save you from frustration at the show.
There are usually 2 options when shipping to a trade show. The first option is shipping to an advance warehouse and the second is to ship direct to the venue.
Shipping to Advance Warehouse
Some shows will encourage you to ship to their advanced warehouse and others penalize you. This really depends on the event management company and venue. Other factors may include schedule conflicts and timing related to the show that is using the venue prior to your event. Exhibitors should look closely at their material handling order forms prior to choosing an option. Some shows will charge a premium to ship to advance warehouse and others will provide a financial incentive. It really depends on the show. Knowing the difference can save you money.
Unless there is a significant cost savings or if your freight just is not available in time, shipping to the advance warehouse is advised. The actual shipping costs are usually less to an advanced warehouse due to little to no chance for waiting time. Also, advanced freight is the first be delivered to the show floor. This eliminates the possibility of being on site with labor scheduled, but not having the freight to start working with.
Shipping Direct to Show Site
Once again there may be cost incentives or penalties for choosing this option. Each show will vary so check your service manual. In addition to potential cost savings for material handling rates, the main advantage to shipping direct to a show site is simply more time. If your freight is not ready for any reason to make the warehouse deadline then shipping direct to show site may be necessary even if there is not a cost incentive.
Depending on the size of the trade show you are participating in there may be “targeted” delivery days and times for shipments arriving direct to the show site. This is most often represented by a color-coded version of the floor plan that lists booths by number. You will need to find your booth number on this map (floor plan) to see what color section you are located within. The larger the show, the more colors. Having a targeted move-in date on a weekend, or outside of normal business hours will increase the freight cost from your shipping company. Another factor that will add to the shipping cost is a “small window” for the delivery. Shipping costs will rise significantly if the shipping company can only deliver between 3 PM – 7 PM for example.
Choosing a Shipper
Almost every show management contractor will try to sell you shipping. It is a good idea to allow them to provide you a quote, but highly advised to get other quotes as well. Occasionally we see the best shipping price coming from show management, but it is not very often. When shopping for shipping or freight services to a trade show you should consider getting quotes from show management, from your exhibit provider and direct from a freight company. Exhibit producers receive the best wholesale rates in available and usually work on a very small commission or markup. In addition, your exhibit producer will probably have a longstanding relationship with the shipping company and receive priority service and 24 hour access to them.
Levels of Shipping Service
Not all shipping quotes will be based on the same type of service. Unless you have a full trailer load most shipments of trade show freight are not shipped direct. Therefore your freight can be loaded and unloaded from truck-to-truck several times before it arrives on site or final destination. Of course each time your freight is handled there is a risk for damage to the crates and contents. The term for this type of shipping is “LTL” which literally means “less than [truck]load.” For LTL shipments the freight will be handled and moved at least 4 times. First at the pick up location, next at the local “hub” in the state where the fright was picked up, a third time at the “hub” in the city you are shipping to, and finally at the advance warehouse or convention center for your show.
So now you know why your exhibit crates get damaged so often. Unfortunately, it is common and possible for the shipments to be shuffled even more. We have heard stories of two trucks meeting in the middle of nowhere trying to move crates from truck-to-truck without the proper material handling equipment. This is the number one factor in damaged crates. Happy Shipping!