Shipping for Your Exhibit? Learn From These Lessons!
One of the most common issues with trade show exhibits is simply getting all the pieces to the puzzle where it needs to be, on time and undamaged. Shipping introduces so many variables! From exhibit type and size to packing and delivery method, any one element can upset the best-laid plans.
Unfortunately, shipping will always come with challenges, but you don’t have to lose your shirt over them. Here are a few common shipping mistakes and how to avoid them happening to you!
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Picking The Wrong Carrier
This element is critical! The carrier that will manage and deliver your exhibit must be one you trust. While you should always get multiple quotes, don’t choose solely on price.
Here are a few parameters to consider before hiring a carrier:
- What are their reviews?
- Who do your industry partners use, and can you get a referral?
- How much is insurance?
- Are they familiar with trade show exhibits?
- Do they charge extra to wait for dock space?
- Is customer service offered after shipping?
Shipping a complex trade show exhibit is different from sending Christmas packages. There are things like freight, item value, shipping policies, delivery procedures and deadlines, and numerous packages.
Do your research and if you can, choose a carrier with trade show experience. Once you find a service you are comfortable with, stick to them like glue! Continue to build a healthy working relationship that will benefit both parties long-term.
Shipping To the Wrong Location
You usually have two options for where to ship your exhibit: direct to the site or to the advance warehouse. If shipping to the advance warehouse is available to you, this will get your exhibit on the showroom floor before the direct-to-location shipments begin unloading.
An added benefit to the advance warehouse is more comprehensive tracking. You will know before the show starts that all your shipments have arrived and are ready for assembly. This gives you time to adapt in the event something is missing or damaged.
While sending to an advance warehouse is more expensive, it guarantees you get into the showroom early. If your exhibit is still on the delivery truck, you’re at the mercy of all the other deliveries on the truck and a potentially grueling wait time at the docking site.
This may seem like a slam dunk, but there are some risks associated with advance site shipping. Some do not accept pad-wrapped freight and will require additional labor and handling, which increases the possibility of damage. If a warehouse isn’t available, your exhibit may be stored in site trailers which are less secure.
Dig into what your event offers and the best option for your business.
Missing Move-In and Move-Out Deadlines
Before you ship any freight, carefully review the trade show’s exhibitor manual. Mark move-in and move-out dates for both site shipping and advance warehouse deliveries and communicate clearly with your carrier.
If the delivery misses the deadline, your exhibit may be sent to the back of the unloading line and could incur additional fees or handling overtime rates. Give yourself and your carrier plenty of time!
Inefficient Use of Drayage
Drayage is what you will be charged for labor and handling to move your exhibit from the unloading site to your booth space and back again. The more freight you have, the most you will pay. You can avoid paying extra by shipping on one pallet and consolidating your freight.
This is an unavoidable tradeshow cost, and most shows have a minimum handling threshold of 100 lbs. If you can avoid sending several small shipments, you could save on drayage fees. If you remember something small when it’s too late to add to the freight pallet, see if your hotel will accept the shipment on your behalf.
Poor Tracking, Inaccurate Paperwork, and Bad Shipping Labels
Get your spreadsheet fingers ready! Proper documentation of your shipped items, handling instructions, carrier policies, and tracking numbers will help you stay on top of your delivery.
Don’t skimp on the labeling of the items you’re shipping. If you’re not using a pallet, number them “1 of 10” to make accounting for your delivery easier. Once the show is over, meticulously fill out the handling forms with accurate carrier-provided shipment information and billing details.
Create a detailed list of everything in the shipment for your records and the carrier. Include the following:
- Number of boxes, crates, or pallets
- Total dimensions
- Trade show details (address, dates, etc.)
- Delivery details
- Handling instructions
- Booth space number
Avoid Trade Show Shipping Disasters
Trade show shipments will always bring some level of necessary risk. Taking pains to research carriers and plan for any of these common mistakes will save you the hassle, time, and money at your next trade show. Reach out to our team for more trade show tips!