Trade shows are full of thrilling business opportunities. People can network with peers and potential customers who are already primed to invest. Trade shows themselves are economic powerhouses—before the COVID-19 pandemic, they generated over $1 trillion in spending annually. As in-person business resumes, businesses are eager to reestablish connections and experience trade show success again, and shipping is an important part of making a trade show a success.
There’s no doubt that trade show shipping can be complex. In addition to figuring out the details for your staff’s travel, potentially including flights and hotel accommodations, you have to transport everything they need to make an impact in their presentations. Displays, exhibition products, and materials for your booth need to make it to its destination undamaged and on time.
With careful planning, shipping to your next trade show can set you up for success. These tips will help you get organized.
Review your exhibitor’s manual—carefully!
An exhibitor’s manual is an A to Z guide to a trade show. It explains everything you need to know. Most trade shows will supply information about general regulations and insurance requirements as well as timelines to submit required paperwork. Understanding all of this ahead of your trade show will minimize hiccups. This means you’ll spend less time troubleshooting and more time networking with potential customers and business associates.
Your exhibitor’s manual also has crucial information about the trade show’s shipping requirements. The information provided will help your carrier better understand your needs. Trade shows typically recommend a freight forwarder, but you may use the carrier of your choice. Questions you may receive guidance on include:
- Is product storage required ahead of the trade show?
- Are any services provided on site?
- Will you need white glove delivery?
- Who is the point of contact for your shipping questions?
- Are there any trade show union rules you need to follow?
All of these questions will provide the foresight you and your carrier need to transport the components of your booth.
Plan and prepare your freight ahead of time.
It may seem like common sense, but it can’t be overstated: prepare your freight for trade show shipping well in advance. The trade show shipping process often involves multiple layers of paperwork and logistics. You need a freight plan that accounts for each step in the process in the most cost-effective manner possible. This is especially critical because trade show shipping can take longer than traditional freight.
When communicating with your carrier, make sure to tell them if you have special pick-up or delivery requirements. It helps to know all the minutiae of your timeline. By allotting ample time to plan trade show shipping, you can work with your carrier to determine which transportation options make the most sense for your needs. The earlier you start planning, the more options you’ll have. It’s never too early to reach out to logistics providers since those specializing in trade show shipping may book up quickly. As a general rule, it’s good to reach out at least a month before your preferred shipping date.
Organize your trade show freight and accurately complete the paperwork.
Just as it’s important to know the ins and outs of your exhibitor’s manual, organizing your freight and the accompanying paperwork accurately will save you time and headaches. Your trade show freight should be labeled with all the specific instructions that will keep it safe en route to its destination. Best practices for preventing freight damage include labeling fragile or hazardous materials, including instructions for any pre-show warehousing, and using packaging that will best protect your freight. Consider all of your options for packing materials, such as fillers and spill-resistant seals.
Each step of this process is accompanied by paperwork for your carrier, insurance company, and the trade show organization. Losing paperwork can set you back in ways that can range from minor inconveniences to huge roadblocks to getting your freight into the trade show for setup. With everything in place, you’ll minimize distractions from your goals for attending the trade show in the first place. An experienced logistics professional can help you organize all of this.
Choose a logistics provider who understands trade show shipping.
Hands down the best thing you can do to make your trade show shipping a success is to work with a logistics provider with relevant experience. This may mean working with someone other than your usual carrier and logistics provider. Those who specialize in trade shows will know how to help you avoid potential pitfalls with advanced warehousing, insurance, trade unions, and more. They will be prepared to get you from one trade show to another even if you have a tight turnaround too.
The right third-party logistics company can make all the difference in your trade show planning. At First Call Logistics, we’re committed to delivering the services and 24/7 customer support to make your event a success. Ready to learn how First Call Logistics can make your trade show shipping a streamlined and pleasant process? Contact our team today.