As owner of a logistics company, it is not really advised to turn down or run from business, but when a clients mention they have a trade show coming up, I literally shudder, then refer them to another company. This is not because we do not have the capabilities, however, it is a waste of time and money for us to get between the professionals that do trade shows all the time and a client. Now let’s take a look at the reasons why trade show transportation is the absolute worst and why it is better to leave it to the experts.
- Time consuming
Normal transportation can be time consuming, but trade show transportation is another level. Hours can be spent planning, preparing documents, tracking the product, making appointments, labelling, etc. Trade show transportation can turn into a time vampire if you are not dealing with companies that are experts. Time can be much more valuable than money, so pay the additional cost to have everything taken care of properly.
- Amount of freight
Typically shipping to a tradeshow is not a full load. This also complicates an already complex project. Then it is likely that companies are sharing a truck going to the same show and in that case have to be clearly marked and organized to avoid missing pallets or delays at receiving. Or a company can pay a full load rate if they wish to have more control.
- Red tape and documentation
No one likes red tape and paperwork but with transportation it is unavoidable and with trade show freight, the amount of documents and paperwork for preparation is even more. Usually it is required that each pallet, if not box is labelled by colour based on when it is due to the booth. For example, materials for booth construction may be due to the show floor two days before the show opens, and marketing materials or samples are required to be delivered the morning of the show. In this case, each pallet for construction materials may have blue labels and the samples might be pink labels. This way, trade show staff can tell quickly what needs to be where and when.
- Off-site facilities
For many trade shows, there is a pre-delivery partner for exhibitors to send product and samples to ahead of time (especially, perishables). This is an added cost but ensures certain products are there and ready to go when needed. Also beware if there is a large amount of items that need to be moved to the floor multiple times during the show. Similarly the convention centre may also use a marshalling yard. This is an off-site location where incoming trucks can be put in line based on arrival times and particular delivery requirements.
- Material handling and drayage
This is the unloading and delivery of booth materials, products or samples from the back area of the convention centre to the trade show floor at the appropriate booth. Sometimes this also includes storage of empty boxes and crates for pack-out at the end of the show. Of course, there is a charge and everything must be clearly labeled for them to make it back to the booth at the end of the show.
- Sending items back
Finally trade show shipments do not typically just go to the show. Marketing materials and booth materials need to go either back to the client or even on to the next show if they are one after the other. Most companies that specialize in trade show service will quote round trip when requested and can even quote on-going projects for multiple trade shows. Some companies even have storage services between shows.
Trade shows are already stressful and there is a lot to do. Do not skimp when it comes to transporting the company’s booth and product. These are the things people are coming to the show to see. Ensure they arrive on time and at the right place with companies that offer proper trade show services.