Shipping Trade Show Displays - Logistics & Material Handling Tips for Exhibits

What is material handling, why does it cost so much, and how can I keep my costs as low as possible?

Material handling, otherwise known as drayage, is the fee charged to exhibitors by the general service contractor for providing the delivery of goods in a very compressed time period. Charges are determined by the type of packaging used, weights, type of delivery service required, and the time of delivery to the show location, or other designated area.

Costs incurred from material handling can include, but are not limited to, insurance, heavy equipment, labor, key supervisory personnel, ease or difficulty of access to venue, the show schedule, and transportation & fuel costs. A shipment sent to an advance warehouse may cost more than a direct to show shipment, due to the extra steps of handling, warehousing, and additional freight from the warehousing area to the show site.

Some ways to avoid additional charges include

  • Consolidating shipments (i.e. avoiding multiple, individual shipments sent at different times)
  • Reviewing your Exhibitor Services Manual to understand regular receiving times (i.e.: shipments received in a marshalling yard after 3:00 p.m., for example, may incur overtime charges)
  • Working with an trade show consultant, exhibit house or freight logistics provider that understands time-critical deliveries.

One of the best suggestions I can offer would be to review that heavy, custom exhibit – is it really necessary, or perhaps could it be swapped out for a newer exhibit that utilizes current lightweight fabric technologies?  Any additional purchase or rental costs may far outweigh the higher, long term operating charges incurred by that existing custom booth.