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Exhibitor Essentials: Event Logistics

Your guide to exhibitor logistics

Arranging the delivery of your items to your booth/stand is a source of anxiety for virgin and veteran exhibitors alike. How will you get your items on-site? How do you arrange for the use of a forklift? Where can you store your empty boxes once you’ve unpacked…?

Do these questions sound familiar?

We’ve worked with exhibitors and organizers to bring you the myth-busting guide – to tackle the sticky issues surrounding event logistics and what you can do to get your items on-site without a hitch.

Let’s get this show on the road!


“How can I do my Part to make sure my items arrive undamaged?”

Just like packing a suitcase, you need to pack breakable items in the center, with padding around the outside. If you have items like ceramic mugs, put strong packaging both inside and out. Using packing peanuts or bubble wrap to stop items sliding around during transit.

Tradeshow Tips | Logistics | Packing Items for Booth

Choose durable packaging like new cartons and seal them securely. Boxes should be at least the strength of a good house moving box and wooden crates or hard plastic totes are preferable when sending very fragile items.

Top Tip

If you have loose items but not enough space to stuff in bubble wrap, try placing a piece of soft cloth in between them to try and prevent friction marks, scratching and transfer of paint.

Photograph all of your items both before and after packing for insurance.


“Can the official contractor pick up my boxes from my office?”

Possibly! Just get in touch and let them know what you need moving, where to and when. They’ll tell you how to do your part and arrange for pick-up and delivery on-site.

Top Tip

Neither the organizers, nor the venue, will accept delivery of goods – so please make sure that your delivery company visits the Logistics Desk (usually located at the rear of the halls) where they will be able to drop off your goods.

Bonus points Top Tip! Deliveries to stands during open hours can only be made if the items can be carried by hand (health and safety and all that…)

“Who can ship my goods to the show?”

the answer is “official contractor”

The choice is yours, although we would suggest using the appointed show partner for swift traversing of the event logistics landscape (of course we’d say that, but it’s true: you can’t put value on experience!) If you’re arranging your own logistics supplier, you need to arrange for someone to be at your stand to sign for delivery!

Know you’re going to be rushed off your feet prior to the show? Don’t sweat it. Just let the official event supplier know and they’ll be able to accept delivery of your items on the day (use your logistics order form to find fees and arrange delivery). If your package is coming from abroad, please remember to include your air waybill and consignment number!


“What’s the right address for shipping to the show?”

For every delivery to the show, it’s important to include more than just the address of the venue. Event venues are a hive of activity, so including your name, company name and stand number will help make sure your items don’t wander off. (using inbound and outbound labels helps too!)

To help you include everything you need to, you can download example labels that you can print off yourself. 

Top Tip

Make sure you put more than one postage label on each box, if you place the label on top and then stack the boxes you can lose track of what you have!  Include an inventory list within each box to help you keep track of what you have while you unpack.


“When can I ship my goods to the show?”

This varies from show to show, so our advice would be to familiarize yourself with the show timetable. For build up, the organizer has a tenancy of the venue for only a few days before the show opens (you can find this in your exhibitor manual).

As a general rule if you’ve got a couple of boxes; arrange your logistics (shipping) at least 3 weeks before arriving on-site. Event logistics suppliers will go from no orders to in excess of 2,000 in a week for one event, so get yours in early.

Trade Show Tips | Logistics Process

Top Tip

You can get your items delivered to an off-site venue if you want to get your items in the vicinity of your venue well in advance. Your official logistics supplier can help you arrange this. Some of them even have their own advanced shipping warehouses like we do at several US convention centers, NEC and ExCeL London – ask for a quote!


“How can I order a forklift?”

All you need to do is get in touch with your official logistics supplier and let them know what you need moving prior to your items arriving on-site.

Trade Show Tips | Logistics | Ordering Forklifts

Top Tip

The official logistics supplier will be the only contractor permitted to use forklifts on-site, so co-ordinate with them if you’re braving the high-seas of logistics by yourself!


“Where can I store my items on-site?”

The official contractor will have an empty space away from the main visitor areas where you can store any empty boxes or large items you don’t need on your stand. This is an additional service and there will be a charge.


Top Tip

We’ve all seen the warnings about not leaving valuable items in vehicles. So while it’s tempting to leave innocuous looking items in your car, this is ultimately quite unwise. Many exhibitors build a lockable storage area or rent a lockable cupboard from us for empty boxes, coats and spare stand items. Just a thought…

Trade Show Tips | Whirehousing | Weighing | Storage


“What are the regulations for international postage, shipping and customs?”

There’s a lot of red tape surrounding international postage, but here’s our attempt to give you a 3 step, skinny version:

Packing to ship

The first step to clearing customs is completing a shipping invoice. It’s a simple form and your logistics contractor can help you complete it. All you need to do is answer some basic questions about your package and what’s in it.

Arriving at the airport

When travel internationally, you’ll need to complete a customs entry form if you bring merchandise in your luggage  (your logistics supplier can do this on your behalf so you can sail straight through!)

Trade Show Tips | Logistics and International Shipping

Duty and VAT

If you’re using an international courier, get some details on how they manage your duty and VAT.

Most exhibition logistics suppliers (like us) have special facilities in place for the show, including facilities for temporary importation without payment of duty/VAT – as opposed to most couriers who will charge full rates of duty and tax! 

Top Tip

A word of warning:

Random stand visits do take place during exhibitions by HMRC. If they find any un-entered goods, you’ll be given 24 hours in which to find a shipping agent or complete a customs entry form yourself. Your goods will be detained by HMRC if no entry is made and will only be released when you’ve completed an entry form and met the requirements set out by HMRC.

Get some more info on HM Government and exhibitions here.


“The show’s over, how do I get my things home?” 

If you’ve arranged for your items to be collected then wait with them until your logistics supplier arrives to collect them because: 

  • Only you will be responsible if something goes AWOL or gets damaged. 
  • After the pullout date stated in your manual, anything left on the stand after that date is considered trash and is disposed of (and you’ll be charged for it). 

Top Tip

There could be thousands of parcels all leaving at the same time, so make sure you’ve labelled your boxes up using our labels (or at least clearly marked on your name, company name, forwarding address and a contact telephone number). 


“If there are any issues on-site who should I talk to?” 

Each event has a team of people on-site to help you out of a jam – including floor managers and the organizer team who are located in the Organizers Office throughout the whole show (they’re usually in organizer branded uniforms on the show floor, too). 

Look out for the ‘Organizers Office’/ ‘Hall Manager Office’ signage to find where the Organizer Office is located.