You’ve invested an important amount on an exhibit, your team has developed a major marketing campaign and you’ve spent thousands of dollars to secure floor space at an upcoming tradeshow. You are flying in with your team, and will incur important travelling expenditures. You get to the show, excited about the quality people you will meet over the next few days. Unfortunately, the delivery of your booth missed the receiving deadline at the marshalling yard.
Your floor space has a lovely carpet, which you also paid for, however your booth didn’t make it on time and the show must go on…
Exhibitors need to understand the vital role that logistics plays in getting their exhibit and events material to and from a tradeshow venue. We’ve listed a few general rules of thumb to help mitigate the risks involved in not delivering – or recovering – your exhibit material on time.
- When time permits, ship early. Most carriers won’t charge storage to hold your freight locally until the move-in date. You can also ship to the advance warehouse for the show. This ensures you are on time for the move-in, however the show’s handling costs will be greater.
- Use a transportation provider who is familiar with tradeshow deliveries and available to reach 24 /7. Ensure you communicate the marshalling yard location, your assigned check-in time and be prepared to pay for waiting time.
- Include all pertinent information on the bill of lading: name of the show, booth number, exhibitor name, on-site contact, telephone number and any other important detail.
- Attaching your business card to every item is a good safety measure to ensure any items that get separated from the shipment make it back to you after the show.
- Label each shipping unit with as much information as possible, including the number of pieces.
- Use a coloured stretch wrap to help your team locate the pallet(s) easily at the show’s receiving dock if need be.
- Do not stack any crates or pallets in the delivery truck, you will otherwise incur additional handling fees to have the exhibit offloaded (more or less 25% greater)
Once the show is over, there are important guidelines to follow to avoid penalties and resulting costs for not getting your shipment recovered on time:
- Before leaving the show, confirm outbound shipping arrangements with your carrier and the show’s service desk. As with the move-in, your carrier needs to know his assigned check-in time and the marshalling yard’s precise location where to proceed.
- Affix new labels to each shipping detailing the outbound information. Remove old labels and attach copies of the return bill of lading to your shipment. Specify the name of your transportation provider as well as their 24/7 telephone number and contact name.
- Once your shipment is packed and ready, turn in the bill of lading AND the material handling form (MHA) to the show’s general service contractor. The material handling form authorizes them to move the freight from your booth location to the designated carrier. Both of these forms need to be turned in to avoid your shipment being ‘forced’.
- Ensure the name of your carrier is included in the designated area of the material handling form.
- Confirm that all payment arrangements have been made with the show organizer. Your exhibit could otherwise not be released and loaded onto your carrier’s truck.
When a shipment remains on the show floor after the scheduled move out deadline, it gets forced. This means that your exhibit will be shipped from the tradeshow facility via the show’s designated carrier. Unless that carrier happens to be the one you booked for the return, you will be liable for exorbitant fees to recover your shipment once it has been forced. Understanding the importance of effective transportation to/from your next tradeshow will help you choose the right transportation provider. The day-to-day carrier you use to deliver on-critical shipments may offer competitive pricing, however they may not have the knowledge and experience in tradeshow logistics you need to help you reach your tradeshow objectives. Whichever carrier you are planning to hire to transport your booth, ask for references from other satisfied clients who swear by them when it comes to events and tradeshow deliveries.