10 Ways to Cut Drayage Costs

10 Ways to Cut Drayage Costs

Have you ever found yourself struggling with the concept of drayage? What is it exactly and why does it cost so much? This article is dedicated to helping event exhibitors understand drayage and the best ways to reduce this expense.


What is Drayage?

Drayage, or material handling, is the round trip charge exhibitors pay to have their shipment transported from the shipping dock or advanced warehouse to their event space and back to their carrier after a trade show.


Why are Exhibitors Responsible?

Each trade show consists of hundreds, if not thousands, of exhibitors needing to transport their freight from the shipping dock to the show floor. The show decorators have developed a sophisticated system to coordinate these efforts. The cost associated with this system gets passed on to exhibitors in the form of drayage.  Factors such as show location and labor agreements determine rates, which can account for up to 30% of show charges.

Drayage is an unavoidable cost, with most events, and can be frustrating to exhibitors.  Why should this expense cost more than transporting freight across the country? Unfortunately, it just does.  There is no getting around this expense, however, with GREAT planning costs can be controlled and surprises minimized.


10 Ways Exhibitors Can Cut Drayage Costs and Improve Their Event ROI


1.  Understand Minimum Charges

The best way to control drayage costs is to have a clear understanding of how these costs are calculated. Drayage rates are calculated at cost per 100 lbs. (CWT), with a 2 CWT minimum charge (200 lbs.). Meaning, each shipment is subject to the minimum weight charge of 200 lbs.

Imagine this scenario, you have 5 packages arriving to the advanced warehouse or show site. They are all under 100 lbs and are shipping separately. In this scenario, you are responsible for the 200-lb. minimum for EACH shipment, or 1,000 lbs. This could cause a significant impact on your event ROI. If those same packages were consolidated and shipped together, your company would end up saving thousands on transportation and drayage costs. Shipping all materials at one time and together will help ensure you are not overpaying for drayage.


2.  Ship Direct to Show Site

One of the simplest ways to reduce drayage costs is to ship directly to show site and avoid the advanced warehouse. There are a number of great reasons companies choose to send their shipments to the advanced warehouse, however, it does cost approximately 30% more in drayage. Take inventory of what you are sending and conduct a cost analysis on which scenario makes most sense for your timeline and budget. Note: There are some variables to consider when shipping direct to show site that could also impact cost.


3.  Understand Deadlines

Each trade show has specific windows of time to deliver to the advanced warehouse or show site. Make sure you understand your target dates and times, which are located in the show kits, in order to avoid paying additional surcharges. Surcharges for missed deadlines can increase drayage rates by up to 50% and can lead to timeline issues with delivery and booth installation.


4.  Review Your Shipment and Go Light

If you are looking to cut back on drayage and transportation costs the best solution is to use lightweight exhibit and display materials. If you are still using an older exhibit, you may want to consider changing out your heavy booth for something lighter.  Booth trends and technologies change at a rapid pace. There are new, lightweight material options available that can provide a customized look and help to minimize drayage costs.


5.  Be Aware of Special Handling

Exhibitors should be aware of special handling, a charge that could cost up to 30% more in drayage fees. Typically, special handling applies to shipments that require additional labor and handling such as ground unloading, stacked or constricted space unloading, designated piece unloading, uncrated shipments, loads mixed with pad wrapped material and shipments that require additional time, equipment or labor to unload.  Special handling inclusions should be defined in your show kit.


6.  Pack Efficiently. Use Pallets and Crates

Examine your materials and make sure they are packaged in the most efficient manner prior to shipping. When shipments are properly packaged they are typically charged the standard drayage rate in comparison to the higher special handling rate.


7.  Know Your Shipment Count and Label Pieces Prior to Shipping

Label each shipment piece with pertinent information to ensure your shipment arrives to the correct exhibit location. Information such as show name, booth name and booth number will ensure you shipment gets to the correct location in the quickest manner. In addition to increasing efficiency, shipments with this information can avoid the potential for lost materials or special handling surcharges.


8.  Weigh Each Piece in your Shipment and Properly Complete the Bill of Lading (BOL)

Piece descriptions and weights are important inclusion on a Bill of Lading. Since drayage is based on actual weight, shippers must have accurate cargo weight to minimize the potential for overestimation. It is in the best interest of the shipping party to properly weight their freight and append that information to the BOL. The weights listed on the BOL is what the decorators will use to determine drayage, except for pieces that may be reweighed at show site.

If you do not have access to a scale to weight your freight, find a trusted transportation partner that can weigh or obtain scale tickets for your shipment. Having the correct weight will help exhibitors estimate drayage costs and determine the accuracy of final show invoices.


9.  Complete Your Bill of Lading and Minimize the Potential of Forced Freight

Prior to leaving the show floor, make sure your paperwork is in order and your carrier has been notified. Shipments moving in or out of an event require that exhibitors complete a bill of lading. By completing this form, it informs the decorator that you have prepared your exhibit material for transport and alerted your carrier. If this form is not complete, the decorator will not release your exhibit material to your carrier and may force your shipment.

If a shipment is forced, your materials will be sent to the advanced warehouse and additional drayage rates will apply.


10.  Review your Show Service Invoice Prior to Leaving the Show Floor

In shows with hundreds (or thousands) of exhibitors, mistakes can happen. That is why it’s important to review your preliminary invoice prior to leaving the show floor. Once you leave, it becomes much more difficult to negotiate change.


Tricks to keep your costs in check when shipping trade show materials.

Navigating Scale Tickets

Advanced Warehouse vs. Direct to Show Site Options

Protect Your Assets.  Are You Prepared for a Worst Case Scenario?

Tips When Shipping to Multiple Trade Shows or Events 


Need Assistance? 

Drayage/Material Handling can seem overwhelming.  Having the right plan and logistics partner in place can make or break you budget.  If you need assistance with your next trade show, we can help.

Contact Us at 484.637.9333 or complete our online form at www.shiplegacy.com/contact/ .


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