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Tips to make your tradeshow freight shipping go smoothly

Dec 22, 2016

Preparing your exhibit booth and other trade show materials for shipping can seem complicated. To be sure everything arrives on time and in good condition follow these tips. They’ll make the entire freight shipping process go more smoothly.

Trade Show Lanyard.jpgBill of Lading (BOL) – The BOL used at the time of pickup is key to the success of your trade show freight shipment. The following information must be clearly printed on your bill of lading:

  • Physical address of the building or complex where the tradeshow is being held
  • Complete name of the show (no acronyms).
  • Specific event room or hall within the facility
  • Your tradeshow booth name and number
  • Name and contact information for your company’s onsite tradeshow contact
  • Tradeshow decorator and phone number
  • Dock number for delivery 

Freight carrier – Certain permits and paperwork are required for trade show shipping. Be sure that the freight carrier you select can and will participate in trade show shipping. When getting a rate quote from your prospective carriers be sure to provide them with accurate weight and measurements of your shipment, all the information to be included on the BOL, show dates, move-in and move-out dates, special equipment requirements and any other details you have available in your show packet. This will increase the accuracy of the rate quote you receive and help eliminate last-minute surprises. 

Freight class – Freight classification can be complicated, especially when you have an assortment of goods packaged together. Fortunately, all trade show shipments are class 125, eliminating the need to determine the freight class to use based on the exact items you are shipping! 

Delivery window – Each delivery to the trade show has a designated date and time. It’s critical that your carrier not miss this delivery window since they will be sent to the end of the line with a new, later, delivery appointment. This can cause issues with delivery to your booth space, installation and your ability to actually display at the trade show. 

Label correctly – Old labels can cause problems with trade show shipments. Be sure that you’ve removed all labels from previous shipments and be sure that accurate labels are securely affixed to each piece of freight within your shipment. Each label should include the show name, booth name, booth number and any other pertinent information to be sure that it can be delivered once it reaches the appropriate facility. Be sure to take pre-printed labels with the return address or address for the next show address to replace inbound labels at the end of the show. 

Ship at one time – Ship all materials at one time and together. Avoiding many separate pieces can mean less stress and wasted time looking for stray portions of your shipment. This will help ensure that you have everything, at the same time that you need to set up your booth. 

Insurance – There are many insurance options available for your exhibit shipments including corporate insurance policies, carrier insurance, and extended liability coverage. Some carriers offer exhibition floater insurance that covers the exhibit for the entire show. Most carriers are insured against loss or delay. Check for specifics with your carrier. 

Drayage – After you register for your trade show event you will receive a complete exhibitor’s kit that includes information about your show participation. It includes exhibit moving and shipping instructions as well as forms required by the sponsor’s drayage contractor. The drayage contractor is responsible for:

  • Directing the waiting shipping company drivers when to get in line and at which dock to off-load your exhibit deliveries.
  • Moving your exhibit crates to your reserved booth area in the exhibition hall.
  • Removing your crates and boxes after you assemble your display and returning them to you at the end of the show.
  • Communicating with your shipping company driver when and where exhibit crates are ready for them to pick up
  • Loading your crates and boxes on the freight truck for delivery to their next destination.

At the end of the show -- You must complete a bill of lading (BOL) at the end of the trade show and submit it to the event’s drayage contractor. This initiates the process of packing up and shipping your trade show booth and crates:

  • The drayage contractor will deliver your empty storage crates to your booth so you may pack and prepare them for shipment to your storage facility or your next destination.
  • Be sure all your crates, boxes and skids are properly labeled and that all old labels have been removed before they’re picked up by the drayage contractor.
  • Once they are packed, the drayage contractor will take your crates to the loading dock and notify your freight driver that your shipment is ready for pick up.
  • It’s a good idea to oversee the movement of your items from your exhibit space to the loading dock and placement on the truck for shipment. Keep a camera handy for easy documentation of any damage to your shipment due to mishandling by the drayage contractor. If damage occurs as a result of mishandling by the drayage contractor be sure to file a claim with them before you leave the premises and get their contact information for follow-up purposes. 

Trade show freight shipping can mean the difference between success and failure. It may determine whether your booth arrives in the right place, at the right time and intact…or not. Following the above tips can make all the difference. American Group has several years of experience successfully handling trade show freight shipments. Contact us when you’re preparing for your next show at 866.553.6608 or by email, Rates@ShipAG.com.