trade show display shippingThe safe, careful, and on-time shipping of your trade show display is absolutely critical. Shipping is the one point in your tradeshow timeline that must be 100% perfect; otherwise you can lose an enormous investment. What resources and guidelines are available to assist you in the shipping process? Exactly where do you have the display sent? What shipper will do the shipping? What guarantees do you have that your display will arrive on time, be stored and delivered properly, and arrive in flawless shape? How do you coordinate the shipping so that no problems are incurred? And how do you get this all done within your budget? These questions must be addressed carefully to ensure the successful shipping and delivery of your display.

Let s begin by talking about available resources and guidelines for shipping. Many of your shipping answers can be found in the Exhibitor s Kit (or handbook, or manual). Various trade shows might call this kit something different, but it all boils down to an exhibitor s handbook and set of rules. It is vital that all exhibitors know the dates, deadlines, delivery/receiving, and other serious and necessary information in the exhibitor s kit. This is your trade show bible. Another mega-source of shipping guidelines is of course your trade show display vendor; they can take the information in the exhibitor s handbook and help you with shipping details. A good display vendor should be available to advise you with shipping, even after the first time you ship your display, from the manufacturer/vendor.

Next, most shippers determine shipping fees according to dimensional weight . To simplify, dimensional weight is a calculation that determines cubic inches per pound (inches-cubed, divided by weight), meaning that the three-dimensional shape is measured in addition to gross weight. A calculation (formula) then determines billing rate based upon the total cubic inches per pound. Further, dimensional weight is calculated differently depending upon the shipper. The bottom line: whenever possible, know the basic dimensional weight of your display in order to help understand shipping rate options.

Now we look at shipping direct to tradeshow site , versus sending your display to an advance warehouse . There are pros and cons to both methods:

Shipping to an advance warehouse:
  • On the first day of the show move in , your freight will be waiting for you at your booth space
  • You can buy yourself a little extra time if there is any emergency (like weather/storms)
  • Often times sending multiple (smaller) packages by UPS or FedEx can cost you much more than consolidated shipping to the advance warehouse
  • Potential waiting time fees : you could be paying by the hour to have the truck waiting in the marshaling yard (if the truck does not arrive exactly at the load-in time as specified by the trade show itself)
  • You can save money usually by making use of an advance warehouse, as opposed to shipping direct to show site
Shipping directly to the tradeshow:
  • If your exhibit contains a lot of valuable properties/components, shipping directly to the show site might be better due to potential damage in the advance warehouse
  • Advance warehouses try to stuff as much as they can into the smallest of spaces, which can damage your shipment
  • Advance warehouses might also stack, smash, push and pull things, and even the best-made crates or cases can be pierced by a forklift
  • Advance warehouses have fees if a shipment fails to arrive on time: they have terms like: no later than , after date , cannot arrive before , and so on
  • You could save money by taking advantage of early bird shipping dates
  • Many times, the trade show sponsor has enlisted the assistance of an official logistics company to help you through the shipping process (as well as other concerns)

This concludes Part One of this article. In Part Two we will look at shipping to a hotel, shipping to your place of business, International shipping, UPS/FedEx and ground shippers, fees, and more.