Escape The Force Freight!
Forced freight is the dreaded circumstance that means your exhibit was on the showroom floor longer than the agreed-upon time. Now your expensive exhibit is essentially held for ransom at a warehouse location belonging to the general service contractor or GSC.
They’re just doing their job, making sure the event center is ready for the next show. For many exhibitors, this is the worst-case scenario and it’s difficult for you as the vendor to manage the chaos that ensues after forced freight. The ramifications are complex and expensive.
Photo Source: Pixabay
How Did This Happen?
It’s the GSC’s job to clear the floor for whatever show comes next, regardless of any extenuating circumstances on behalf of your arrangements or carrier error. Here are a few common scenarios.
Freight Carrier Was a No Show
A no-show carrier could be due to several varied factors. If your carrier missed your pickup and your items are on location past the expired timeframe, the GSC must force them out.
Or if the carrier is inexperienced and new, they may get lost at the convention center. Signs and floor marks are often removed during takedown which leads to confusing signage. If this happens, your exhibit may be stuck longer than the allowed time and forced away.
The paperwork associated with your exhibit should include a move-in and removal plan and this is how you communicate with the GSC about your exhibit’s handling. If it’s poorly filled out or missing altogether, you’ll be stuck with a forced freight nightmare.
Your carrier can be turned away due to simple paperwork mistakes, and they won’t be allowed access to the docks. Your exhibit will be stuck and later forced out through no fault of the carrier.
There are usually a lot of moving parts when it comes to the setup and take-down of a trade show. Convention staff may not know how to find your items or how to direct carriers.
Common Carrier Agreements with the GSC
It’s fairly common that a GSC will have an agreement with a common carrier and thus refuse any other carrier access. They may even have a profit-share arrangement that could result in inflated forced freight rates.
The Consequences of Forced Freight
In addition to the complexities of your new shipping fiasco, there are fees. And they rack up quickly!
Attempted and Denied Pick Up
Remember the carrier paperwork mix-up? Here it is in action. If your carrier is turned away by the event’s GSC you may see an added charge.
Moving and Handling Fees
Every employee, carrier, and staff member at the event and at the warehouse that lays a finger on your exhibit requires payment.
Off-Target Fees are incurred when you miss the specified check-in and check-out time for your exhibit, depending on the size.
In the event your exhibit or other freight is sent off to the GSC’s warehouse while you are problem-solving any paperwork or carrier-related issues, this may incur storage fees that you’ll be responsible for.
Waiting fees are collected when your freight carrier must wait around for convention staff to collect your exhibit. If they end up waiting overnight, you could be footing the bill for several hundred dollars.
How To Escape Forced Freight?
Never leave home without this handy “Escape from Freight Checklist”!
#1 Always Monitor Your Carrier
Do they know where to go and at what time? Have them confirm delivery and collection details with you prior to your event.
#2 Confirm Everything with The Show in Advance
Make sure the event knows who your carrier is. Double-check all paperwork due dates.
#3 Leave an Employee Behind
Appoint someone to remain behind and oversee all operations. Ensure they have a detailed list of dates, times, names, and any freight details.
#4 Properly Label and Pack
You can never have too many labels and lists! Everything should be prepared well enough to make the GSC’s job and that of the carrier as seamless as possible.
#5 Use Distinct Storage Containers
You want your items to be clearly marked and distinct from all the other brown boxes on the showroom floor. Use storage containers that are unique and memorable, but still heavily labeled.
#6 Paperwork, Paperwork, Paperwork
Triple check your handling paperwork for accuracy, completeness, and clarity. Make sure you have a 24-hour phone number listed where they can reach you or someone in your company who can help in case of a mix-up.
#7 Prepare an Inventory List
Your inventory list should be comprehensive and exhaustive and shared with everyone involved with your freight. Also clearly note the total number of items for an easy count later.
Preparing for your next trade show? Whether you need exhibit design, event marketing, or a trade-show display, let the Exhib-it team help you plan to succeed! Reach out to our team today!