The trade show industry is continuing to rebound from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. In the U.S., a national driver shortage remains, impacting event shipping costs as well as the number of professional drivers with trade show experience available to transport exhibit materials to and from convention sites. In a marketplace where the demand for drivers and shipping services is high, some carriers are choosing to avoid large events where unloading wait times run high, opting for dock-to-dock shipments instead. Additionally, labor challenges continue to impact the entire industry, slowing things down even further.
This September, our team provided transportation services to several clients attending PACK EXPO Las Vegas, the most comprehensive packaging and processing event in the world! While on-site, we noted some challenges facing exhibitors, show managers, and logistics companies as the trade show and large event industry returns from event shutdowns. Based on our experience, we’ve compiled a list of ways to help make your trade show shipping experience run as smoothly as possible.
1. CONSIDER SHIPPING ITEMS DIRECTLY TO THE ADVANCE WAREHOUSE
In the current environment, the drayage rate for the advance warehouse and show site is similar in many cases. Shipping to the advance warehouse will ensure your event materials arrive to the show on time, allow you to plan your I&D services, and minimize additional carrier fees. Additionally, carriers are more willing to take on your load if they can drop it at the advance warehouse instead of incurring long wait times at an event marshaling yard.
2. PACK EFFICIENTLY & USE PALLETS AND CRATES
Spend a little extra time to ensure event materials are packaged in the most efficient manner before shipping. In today’s marketplace, carrier rates are often higher for oversized or unpackaged items. Many less than truckload (LTL) providers have also implemented EL (excessive length) freight surcharges. Additionally, when it comes to drayage, shipments that are properly packaged are typically charged the standard drayage rate compared to a higher special handling rate.
3. REMOVE OLD SHIPPING LABELS AND LABEL YOUR FREIGHT PROPERLY
To help an industry feeling the effects of labor shortages, make sure the labeling on your freight is as clear as possible. Remove old labels and label each piece of your freight with pertinent information such as the show name, booth name, and booth number. Labeling will help make sure your shipment arrives at the correct exhibit location. Labeling will also help ensure your freight gets loaded correctly at the end of a show.
4. COMPLETE THE MATERIAL HANDLING AGREEMENT (MHA) AT THE END OF THE SHOW TO MINIMIZE FORCED FREIGHT
Before leaving the show floor, make sure your shipping paperwork is in order and your carrier has been notified. We recommend that you take a picture of your material handing agreement (MHA) to save digitally and send to your carrier. The MHA informs the General Service Contractor (GSC) that you have prepared your exhibit material for transport and alerted your carrier. If this form is not complete, the GSC will not release your exhibit material to your carrier and may force your shipment, sending materials to the warehouse or the next destination by their carrier of choice.
5. SELECT A CARRIER THAT WILL BE AT THE SHOW TO DIRECTLY SUPERVISE MOVE-OUT
Use a carrier that will be onsite during the show’s move-out. Carriers who oversee move-out take on the responsibility to ensure your paperwork is turned in and the freight is loaded on the correct truck. At the recent PACK EXPO Las Vegas, our team stopped 15 client shipments from being forced by overseeing the move-out process. Having your logistics team onsite is a valuable resource for any event team.
We are so proud to be your trusted resource for trade show and large event logistics. As we begin planning for even more shows coming back in 2022, it’s our job to help get your materials everywhere you plan to be next year. Our dedicated team is available to help every step of the way.