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The Extra Mile

Shipping Tips

4 Tips on How to Have a Great Trade Show Shipping Experience

The Yellow Team | July 5, 2022

    Image of a busy trade show floor

    These trade(show) secrets will ensure your booth or exhibit is shipped safely and efficiently, with ample time before the show begins.

    After two years of COVID, the trade show season is back in full swing for 2022. Your marketing team has emerged from the pandemic to create an amazing, attention-grabbing trade show booth. You’re excited to increase your brand awareness, network and ultimately bring home the win for your sales team at the next event. You’ve booked the prospect meetings, dinners, airline tickets and hotel reservations.

    The only thing left to do is to get your new booth to the trade show on time. Simple, right?

    It should be. With today’s shipping options, tracking technology and a few trade secrets from our seasoned exhibit-shipping experts, you’ll get your booth or exhibit delivered on time with preferential treatment.

    Read on for a behind-the-scenes account of the trade show business with these four tips to set you up for success:

    Tip #1: Carrier Relationships Can Get Your Trade Show Shipment Preferred Treatment

    Imagine what it looks like backstage on move-in day with 500 booths to set up, when plan drawings become reality in a matter of hours.

    The showroom floor transforms as decorators begin taping off the lines, electricians wire the stalls, carpets are rolled out and forklifts deliver each booth’s materials in a highly sequenced flurry of movement. Construction begins and booths stand up one by one. The lighting crew sets the mood and, with a few final flourishes, it’s showtime.

    Our exhibit operations managers describe move-in and move-out days as a ballet, with each step being choreographed far in advance. To ensure success, you’ll need a partner with many years of experience and relationships on their side to help orchestrate your event.

    When possible, choose a carrier that has a team of skilled exhibit operations managers with years of experience, who can:

    • Tap into their relationships to call in a favor when needed

    • Juggle the myriad changes and still pay attention to the most meticulous of details

    Using the Trade Show’s “House Carrier” is Completely Optional

    The General Service Contractor (GSC) will note the house carrier in the exhibitor kit. While this may be a good option, it’s not your only option. Exhibitors are not required to use the house carrier and you are free to ship to the trade show using your freight carrier of choice.

    Tip #2: Hidden Fees Can Be Avoided

    Some freight carriers are subject to being detained onsite, which can delay your shipment. These carriers may not have much experience shipping to trade shows and are likely to be hit with fees because they don’t know what to expect when they get to the event. The result is that you, the shipper, may be charged detainment fees until your freight can be unloaded. Regulatory mandates on electronic logging devices that track the driver’s service hours can exacerbate cartage detention fees. This can quickly add up on your final shipping invoice.

    Avoid pricing surprises and delays by choosing a carrier that:

    • Owns tractors and equipment, and has the flexibility to stage freight and avoid detention

    • Has a long-term relationship with the event’s general service contractor so your booth can get to the front of the line

    • Can provide onsite storage, if needed

    How to ship early and store booth materials onsite

    At most trade shows, there are hundreds of exhibitors – and their booth materials are received at the same place, at the same time. You can avoid getting lost in this shuffle by shipping early.

    Your exhibitor kit should be assembled and ready to go 60 to 90 days prior to the trade show. Once the exhibitor kit arrives, you’ll have the information and addresses you need to prepare your shipment, whether it’s going directly to the show or to an advanced receiving warehouse. Your carrier should be able to deliver to either location and provide onsite storage when needed.

    Exhibitor badge from a trade show

    Tip #3: Ensuring Your Shipment Arrives on Time is a Small Fraction of the Cost of Show


    Shipping is an outdoor sport. Weather, traffic and other unforeseen circumstances can wreak havoc on an otherwise on-time booth or exhibit delivery.


    If shipping directly to a show, considering choosing a time-critical service option from the carrier to ensure your shipment arrives in the specific window the GSC has provided. The total cost of shipping with a time-critical service should only be 6% of your overall cost of show. Your investment in a time-critical service will be well worth it and save you some anxious moments as the trade show event approaches.


    If shipping in advance, take advantage of available storage options. We offer 30 days of included storage prior to the show. You can have the peace of mind knowing your trade show booth and materials are near the exhibit hall, no matter the weather and traffic conditions.


    Tip #4: Precise Paperwork Can Help Avoid Delays and Hidden Fees


    Carriers use the bill of lading (BOL) to acknowledge receipt of a shipment. Omitting any pertinent information in the BOL can result in delays, miscommunication and billing errors. 


    For trade show shipments, it’s especially important to pay close attention to the details and always include in the BOL:


    • The correct number of pieces being shipped


    • A detailed description of your shipment (example: “4x4x4 – Quantity: 2”)


    • Any special requirements for the shipment or the delivery


    • An accurate weight and dimensions of each crate to avoid surprise shipping and drayage fees


    • Trade show details like the venue and booth number


    • The name of your carrier. It is a DOT requirement that the carrier’s name be listed on the BOL or Material Handling Agreement (MHA)


    • Remove old address labels and PRO numbers from previous shipments of the exhibit and replace them with the new labels


    The outbound MHA is equivalent to the inbound BOL. It’s a similar document with the same purpose but a different name. Unless you designate a specific carrier on the MHA, your freight automatically goes to the trade show’s “house shipper,” regardless of who shipped it inbound.


    You can choose any carrier to ship your trade show exhibit to the next show, to storage, or back to your company. Simply write the carrier’s name on the MHA.



    Consult with Us Before Your Next Show


    The team of 19 dedicated exhibit managers across our trucking companies (YRC Freight, Holland, Reddaway and New Penn) have over 30 years of trade show relationships on their side to orchestrate your booth deliveries with precision. We move exhibit shipments throughout our network, which provides faster transit and increased reliability with reduced handling. And the price we quote on trade show shipments is the price you get – there are no surprise line items in your invoice after the fact.


    Advantages of our Exhibit and Trade Show Services include: 


    • Onsite managers to orchestrate your entire delivery


    • No hidden fees


    • No detention, weekend or after-hours fees


    • Trade show relationships to ensure preferred treatment for your shipment


    Get a quote with confidence. Visit our Exhibit and Trade Show services page to learn more or call us directly at 800.531.EXPO.

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