Exhibitor Essentials: Freight, Shipping & Material Handling

The Mysteries Of Freight And Shipping Revealed

Need a hand navigating trade show shipping, freight and material handling (drayage) information?

Here is a simplified quick guide to help you plan and save money!

What is exhibition freight? 

Goods moved from one point to another via truck, rail, ocean or air.

Freight is considered your booth properties, product, literature, and samples. This costs money to transport to and from a show and should be strategically shipped in order to meet delivery deadlines and get the best rates.

Remember: The longer the shipping window from point A to point B, the better the shipping rate for you, since the load can be consolidated with others to fill the mode of transportation and efficiently utilize fuel/driver costs.

What is Trade Show shipping?

The act of transporting, via hired carrier, exhibitor or show organizer displays and goods to and from a show.


Common Questions about Trade Show Shipping

Is the show a targeted freight show?

A targeted show is where each booth space has an assigned delivery date and time based on the location on the show floor. In some cases, the show has a targeted move out also. If you want to make sure you meet these by the deadline, make sure to check with the official service provider.

What a marshaling yard is and why it is used?

Some facilities use an offsite marshaling yard to stage all the incoming trucks and put them in line by arrival time and delivery location. This is done to keep the congestion away from the loading dock doors at the facility and keep the movement of trucks and freight going forward. If you are not hiring a shipper that specializes in trade shows, be aware that you may be charged a wait time by the shipper if your driver needs to wait in the marshaling yard for their turn to unload/load at the facility.

Remember: All official service providers have trade show specialized carriers they use and can assist with all your shipping needs.

How can I ship from one trade show directly to another?

Ask the official service provider if they are offering a caravan of expedited shipping from one show to the next. Even if the next show is not the same official service provider, they still may be able to help you.


How should I ship small packages to the trade show?

Small package shippers like UPS, FedEx, and DHL, split the shipments as they need to fill their mode of transportation. Try to consolidate small package shipments when you can to know in advance what you will pay for material handling/drayage fees. Just because you ship multiple small boxes at one time doesn’t mean they’ll arrive at their destination at the same time. If a multi-package shipment arrives at the warehouse or trade show on multiple days, you will be charged a small package fee each day of arrival instead of a consolidated charge due to additional handling and receiver paperwork.

Medium and Large boxes

What is Material Handling or Drayage?

This is the unload and delivery of exhibitor and show organizer displays and goods from the GES warehouse or show site dock to their booth. It also can include storage of empty boxes and crates, redelivery of boxes and crates at show close, and transport back to dock for loading on the way out of the show.


How Can I Save Money on Material handling or drayage?

In the U.S., we have material handling or drayage fees. This service falls under the official service provider who is hired through the show organizer and is the only partly authorized to oversee and control the safety of the movement of material on the show floor. This is a chargeable service that is billed on a per 100lb. basis, usually with a 300lb. minimum.  To save yourself money, avoid surcharges for material handling/drayage by staying alert of shipping deadlines, locations and types of freight accepted without additional fees. It is best to check with the official service provider before planning your shipment(s) and be aware of late-to-warehouse fees, mixed shipment fees, uncrated fees and off-target fees.

Exhibit Storage Services and Empty Labels

The official service provider is responsible for collecting all empty boxes and crates before the show begins, returning them to their rightful owner after show close and moving the shipments back to the dock and reloading them with the outbound carrier. Part of this process requires the official service provider to provide the exhibitors with color-coded EMPTY labels for their crates and boxes and staging all colors separately for easy return at show close.


Additional Tips for Exhibition Shipping

A large part of your trade show expenses can be freight, shipping, and material handling or drayage fees. In order to cost-effectively plan and spend your money wisely, evaluate the overall weight of all booth properties and supplies needed for the show well in advance of receiving show deadlines. Review costs associated with the warehouse versus show site handling and decide which is best for you. If your show is of short duration or a tight turnaround until your next show, you may want to think about renting a turnkey package from the official service provider to save shipping and material handling expenses. The more questions you ask your official service provider, the more confident you will be in making the right choice for you and your budget!



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