Mastering Trade Show Shipping

6 Tips for Mastering Trade Show Shipping

Trade show shipping accounts for 12% of your budget at your next event. With that much on the line, you cannot afford to make any mistakes.

One of the more stressful elements of the exhibiting experience is trade show shipping.  

During this crucial period, a multitude of mishaps could arise, such as shipping delays, dredge fees, and other shipping-related problems. 

Trade show shipping accounts for 12% of your budget at your next event. With that much on the line, you cannot afford to make any mistakes.   

But you’re lucky there is an opportunity to escape many of those foreseen shipping mistakes.  

We will take a wider look at the problems that might arise during the shipping process and hopefully put you on the right track to tackle one of the most stressful parts of your next trade show appearance.  

Let’s master trade show shipping. 

#1 Get ahead on Planning 

The obvious first step on the road to mastering trade show shipping is getting ahead on Planning.  

Early Planning is the key to a successful trade show shipping experience. It’s vitally important to understand the convention center and adhere to its rules and deadlines. 

Different convention centers or expos have different shipping rules and regulations, so beware of those before you start the shipping process. For example, some convention centers have different shipping options, delivery time windows, and handling fees.  

After you’ve figured out those details, you need to book your shipments well in advance to avoid last-minute rush fees and even ensure your shipping availability.  

Lastly, you should always have a shipping timeline that aligns perfectly with your trade show’s schedule. You don’t want to panic that your supplies won’t get to your destination of choice on time.  

#2 Picking the Right Carrier 

This could arguably be the most important step in mastering trade show shipping.  

Most brands hire a run-of-the-mill trucking company to deliver their product to a trade show floor, and this could be a costly mistake.  

If you don’t use a trucking company that is familiar with the rules and regulations of different convention centers when delivering a shipment, you could encounter some pretty substantial delays.  

Substantial delays could account for you not having an exhibit on the show floor, which leads to an extremely unsuccessful exhibit experience.  

We highly suggest you research and ask for their trade show service references to ensure they’re well-equipped to handle your shipping needs.  

Finding the perfect and best fit for your shipping needs can alleviate some of the pressure you’ll feel during your next event.  

#3 Packaging and Labeling 

Invest in high-quality, durable packaging to protect your precious materials during transit to your next event. Custom crating is even considered for fragile and high-value items.  

You don’t want your exhibit to be destroyed, which could leave you with a less-than-stellar experience on the trade show floor.  

To ensure the protection of your exhibit, you should also consider using sufficient padding so all the items are securely fastened inside the boxes. You should also clearly label each package with handling instructions and maybe even emergency contact information just in case unforeseen circumstances happen.  

As we said, clear and visible labeling is crucial. Each item shipped should include important information like the destination, trade show booth number, and contact number.  

You should use large and easy-to-read labels and maybe even consider using a color coding system for quicker identification if you have a lot of products being shipped. This color coding makes it easier for handlers and can potentially reduce the risk of misplacement of your product.  

#4 Inventory  

Knowing what you have when your setup gets to your preferred destination is important.  

You should maintain a detailed inventory list of everything you shipped. This list has to include item descriptions, quantities, and serial numbers, if available.  

An inventory will keep you organized, which is one of the more vital factors when prepping for an event.  

Keeping an inventory can also be a useful tool for tracking your items through various stages of shipping and setup processes for making claims in case any damages or losses might occur throughout your shipping experience.  

#5 Insurance 

Trade show shipments involve several handlers and stages of the process, which can naturally increase the likelihood of loss and damage.  

However, most trucking companies provide what is called “released value” for your product, but this only accounts for about thirty to sixty percent per pound of what you’re shipping, so often, this just isn’t enough.  

The best option is to get an insurance rider through your company’s insurance policy, which would cover almost one hundred percent of what you’re shipping.  

Purchasing additional insurance for your expo shipments will provide peace of mind that you won’t have otherwise.  

Not to state the obvious, you need to make sure that the additional coverage you tack onto your shipping cost is sufficient to replace or repair the shipped items if the worst-case scenario happens.  

#6 Shipping options 

You have two key shipping options while shipping your product to your event. You can ship to the advance warehouse, meaning you will be shipping to a holding zone before the show.  

This method reduces the risk of last-minute delivery issues. It’s also the cheaper shipping method, and most importantly, this method allows for pre-show inspection and an easier handling method.  

The downside to this particular method is that if you’re shipping any expensive material, it could be placed in a non-secure container, which could be a risk. 

The other shipping option is “direct to show,” which sends your product to the convention center or expo floor. This method requires you to be organized with your shipping planning, but setting up an appropriate shipping schedule could be painless.   

Ultimately, your chosen method should be the best for you and your budget.  

Once the trade show is over, the last step you should take is to follow up on the return process of your supplies.  

You should ensure that all items are accounted for and check for any damages or issues that might have occurred during the transit or the show itself.  

You should also take the time to provide constructive feedback to your carriers, siting any problems or successful aspects of the shipping process to hopefully improve future experiences.  

By implementing this advice, you’re on your way to mastering trade show shipping, which could reduce stress and, thus, ensure a smooth trade show experience. 

All of this will allow you to focus on maximizing your trade show success.

The Trade Group is a full-service trade show and event marketing company. We will work with you to create an exhibit or an event that brings in leads and helps you achieve your business goals. Contact us here or give us a call at 972-734-8585.

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