Trade shows are commonplace for just about every industry you can name. Millions of attendees flock to trade shows each and every year, and, for the exhibitors, trade shows provide a unique opportunity for face-to-face interaction with their customer base. However, before an exhibitor can get in front of customers, they need to get their exhibit materials to the show. Shipping to a trade show comes with its fair share of pitfalls that could leave you high and dry at an event. Learn from the mistakes of others and shy away from the following top trade show shipping blunders:
Using the decoratorMost shows will use a third-party partner to manage the specifics of their show. Shipping falls under these specifics and the decorator will often times offer shipping solutions to exhibitors at a hefty mark-up. However, it's important for all exhibitors to know that they have options and are under no obligation to use the decorator's shipping rates. Shop around and find a great rate with a shipping partner you trust. You'll be glad you did and most likely positively impact the show's overall ROI for your company.
Paying extra drayageDrayage is the charge for moving your exhibit materials from the dock to your booth space before the show as well as moving your materials back to the dock at the end of the show. Drayage fees will vary based on the type of shipment, the amount of handling, the time of day, and other factors. Avoid paying extra by consolidating to one pallet/shipment and paying close attention to shipping deadline dates.
Mistakes in documentation and labelingProperly documenting your shipping preferences are important before and after the show. On your shipment to the show, abide by the same methodology and rules you would on any freight shipment you send - accuracy in your freight class (trade show shipments are typically class 125), the shipment weight, billing information, and consignee information is key. Also, provide ample labeling on the items contained on your pallet to guard against lost pieces in transit. After the show, fill out your material handling form carefully. List the shipment information provided by your carrier partner and pay extra attention to the "Bill To" section of the form. Leaving the "Bill To" blank could jeopardize previously agreed on pricing and leave you on the hook for a larger bill.
Not using the advanced warehouseYou have two options to ship your trade show shipment to your show: the advance warehouse or directly to the show site. Shipping to the advance warehouse gives you the ability to track your freight and ensure that it has been received, with time to double-check. Your freight will already be in place when you arrive for setup. Although some show decorators may charge slightly higher drayage for a shipment sent to the advance warehouse, the pros generally outweigh this cost.
Not planning for weatherIf you do not ship early to the advanced warehouse and decide to go to the show site, be sure to build in a least an extra day or two for shipping. As we all know, weather in most parts of the country is unpredictable and doesn't care if you're left without a booth at your show. Plan ahead, give yourself extra time, and have your exhibit materials ready to go at the show when you are.
Avoid making these rookie mistakes and you'll be shipping to trade shows efficiently and worry-free!