Trade Show Shipping 101

Many exhibitors enjoy attending trade shows held in a different city because it offers them a chance to travel and they can meet vendors and attendees they might otherwise not see.  Unfortunately, when you are traveling, the displays are usually very large and heavy that it is almost impossible for you to take the displays with you on the plane or bus (and not that you would want to!). You then have to find a way to ship off your displays, all the while hoping that they get there intact and on time for the show. Here are a few tips to help ensure that you display gets to it’s final destination without a scratch.

1. Don’t procrastinate. As soon as you know you will be attending a trade show, you should set up a timeline for everything you need to get done. You should plan to design and order your display a few weeks before, giving the printer enough time to produce it, then allowing enough time for it to be shipped. If you are waiting until a week before to do all of this, you’re in for a rough ride! By doing everything ahead of time, you give yourself wiggle room to deal with any unforeseen circumstances. The cost associated with shipping overnight or rush shipping can also skyrocket, therefore, give them a call early on to make sure they aren’t completely booked and you can ship it normally. 

  • Tip: If this is going to be your first time attending a trade show, ask for support and advice from people that have done this before. They can give you an idea of how much time they took to prepare for a trade show.

2. Research. If you are going to put the fate of your trade show display in someone else’s hands, make sure that you hire a professional freight company that is reliable and that will come through. There are many companies out there that specialize in shipping trade show displays or have experience in the field. They are the ones that understand the importance of your display and how it needs to be handled.  You should shop around for the best price but also, look at reviews to get an idea of their work ethic. Although reviews help, many people only post when they had a negative experience, therefore, you can speak to the company’s representative about your concerns and hopefully they can make you feel at ease.

If your display gets lost or ruined on the day of your event, you might not have enough time to remedy the situation. You risk looking unprofessional and possibly missing out on clients who didn’t stop at your booth, which is why you do not want to risk choosing the wrong company to handle your shipping. 

  • Tip: Ask the print studio if they know of any good companies that they trust. This will save you some time and it can give you confidence in choosing a company that they have already used.

3. Create a detailed inventory. Whether you are going to be the one attending the trade show or someone else, keeping track of your inventory is a must. You should label everything with your name, company name, and the trade show you’re attending. if you had any previous labels with shipping information, it is best to take them off because it’s possible for new labels to come off and they’ll think the old labels are current. You can also label them with numbers so that you can easily keep track of whats yours and then putting all of that information into your phone in a note taking app or something like “Google Docs.” You should also try to ship everything together to save money but also to avoid having to worry about two orders. 

  • Tip: Put business cards inside of the trade show display. If they happen to get misplaced, they’ll have additional information on who to contact.

4. Leave unnecessary items. There are many companies that like to print out brochures, pamphlets, or handouts, however, this usually drives up your shipping costs. instead, get attendees emails and send them the brochures digitally. If you have the budget, you can also purchase customized USB drives and preload them with your PDF files, plus, the USB drives will serve as promotional items to give away. 

  • Tip: If you insist on having any printed materials, find a local shop in the city where the trade show will be held and get them to print it out instead.

6. Communication is key. Make sure that you communicate with the company you decided to hire about your expectations and what you need from them exactly. Double check the location, dates and make sure you give them your correct contact information. Some companies offer real time updates and allow you to track your display, which helps ease some of the stress.

  • Tip: Save the company’s customer service phone number to your cellphone so that if there is an issue, you can easily get in touch with them and resolve the issue promptly.

Trade Show Freight Shipping is one of the last things you have to take care of before hitting the trade show floor to exhibit, make it a smooth transition by staying organized and planning ahead!

Leave a Reply