Trade Show Freight Services
How to Effectively Manage Exhibit Shipping

Coordinating trade show freight services to transport your exhibit takes thoughtful planning and meticulous management to ensure all display components arrive at the show venue on schedule. Exhibitors who participate in major shows throughout the year often rely on companies that specialize in event logistics to manage warehousing, packing and shipping.

By working with these experts in trade show shipping, exhibitors can count on their display arriving when they need it, where they need it, and in prime condition for each event in which they participate.  

trade show freight services

In addition, by spending time upfront to research the services and costs offered by different logistics companies, exhibitors have the opportunity to compare options and find the best available pricing for their shipping needs.

Once an exhibit arrives at a venue's loading dock, contracted logistics experts may be used to ensure cases and crates are delivered to the booth area on time, as well as to supervise exhibit assembly, dismantling, and return shipping.

Tradeshow logistics consultants can help organizations increase efficiency and hedge against the potential for costly mishaps that may occur during shipping and delivery to an event.

Contracted experts may be hired to assist a company's in-house logistics coordinator or manage trade show freight services for sales and marketing professionals who need to save time and fully focus on the promotional aspects of show participation.

For exhibitors who choose to handle their own logistics rather than use trade show freight services, the following information should help facilitate planning for timely shipping and on-site delivery.


Shipping Considerations:

You can transport your tradeshow booth display yourself or contract with a freight carrier to ship your exhibit from your storage location to the event city. If you decide to hire a shipping company for exhibit moving, look for providers that specialize in tradeshow logistics and understand the requirements of transporting exhibit components.

As you evaluate shipping carriers, ask your representative about services provided and the type of customer support you can expect to receive. Before making a hiring decision, find out how long the company has been in business, check references and ask for a written price quote that covers all your shipping requirements.

In addition, see if the tradeshow sponsor has contracted with a shipping company to serve as the official carrier for the event. Often, official companies may extend special benefits, extra exhibit moving services or reduced pricing to those who use their services.


When you submit your show registration, the event sponsor will give you a comprehensive exhibitor’s kit that includes A-to-Z information about show participation, including exhibit moving and shipping instructions, a list of providers of trade show freight services, and forms required by the sponsor’s drayage contractor.

The drayage contractor is responsible for:

  • Instructing shipping company drivers, who are parked and waiting at the venue’s marshaling yard, when to get in line at a designated dock to off-load.
  • Moving your exhibit cases and crates to your reserved booth area in the exhibition hall.
  • Removing your shipping containers you have assembled your display and returning them to you at the conclusion of the show.
  • Directing shipping company drivers to specific loading dock lines when exhibit items are ready to be picked up.
  • Loading your cases and crates on the freight truck for the delivery to wherever they are to go.

Therefore, take the time to detail all of your handling requirements and specifications on the drayage form since the information you provide will be used to coordinate the timing and process of delivering your exhibit and materials to you before the show.

Note that there are exhibitor fees for drayage services that are affected by the number of items you have transported, the weight of your crates and boxes, arrival/departure timing, etc.

Coordination among your tradeshow team, the drayage contractor and a representative from the company handling your trade show freight services is essential to ensure on-time delivery with no missing crates or display items.

Your team always should know when your exhibit items will be delivered and have adequate time to assemble your exhibit before the tradeshow doors open. 


Paperwork Requirements:

At the conclusion of the show, you must complete a "bill-of-lading" and submit it to the event’s drayage contractor. This paperwork put systems in motion to deliver your empty storage crates to your booth area so you can pack your tradeshow booth display and prepare it for shipping to your warehouse or next destination.

Once your exhibit is dismantled and packed, the drayage contractor will take your crates to the loading dock and advise your the driver from your trade show freight services company that your exhibit is ready for pick-up. To ensure that everything gets where it is supposed to go, be sure crates, boxes and skids are properly labeled.

Preventing Loss and Damage of Your Tradeshow Booth Display:

If any exhibit items (including improperly labeled cases, boxes and crates) are left behind, they will be "forced." When an item is forced, it is sent to the event contractor’s warehouse for storage until the exhibitor has made proper arrangements for it to be "delivered out" or returned.

The exhibitor typically has to pay double or triple the cost of shipping to recover an item that got left behind.

It is important to oversee the movement of your items from your exhibit space to the loading dock to placement on your shipping company’s truck. Keep a camera handy so you can document any damage to your tradeshow booth display caused from mishandling by the drayage contractor.

If any damage occurs at the show, be sure to file a claim with the drayage contractor before you leave. Then, get the drayage contractor’s phone number, address and shipping procedures so you can follow-up later, if necessary.

Your driver for your trade show freight services company will need to list any exceptions to the bill-of-lading before loading your freight so his/her company will not be held responsible for damage that occurred by the drayage contractor.

Related Information - Trade Show Freight Services

Carrier Selection and Logistics
Choosing a Trade Show Freight Services Company
Registration Packet Paperwork
Transporting Portable Trade Show Displays 
Trade Show Shipping Cases

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