Trade Show Shipping Guide

If your company relies on trade shows to engage with customers, trade show shipping is what you need to make sure your business is organized, professional, and ready to showcase your products and services at their best. Trade show shipping is the process and logistics of getting your trade show booth, signage, products, and other display materials to the venue intact and ready to shine.

In this trade show shipping guide, we will look at what is included in the shipping, what you can do to help ensure a smooth process, and why professional shipping for trade shows is so important for your business.

What Exactly Does Trade Show Shipping Include?

There are actually three main steps to the trade show shipping:

  1. Getting your items to the trade show: This first step is called “Inbound Shipping.” During this step you will work out the details of how and when the items will be picked up from your location and taken to the trade show. For example, before this step you will choose whether your items go directly to the show or if they are put in a warehouse first.
  2. Unloading your items at the show: Referred to as “Material Handling,” this second step is all about how materials will be unloaded and placed at the show. The material handler is appointed by the organizer of the show. As such, they are the only ones who can move items within the event space. In addition, this also refers to the taking down of those materials at the end of the show and loading them up to be delivered to their next destination. Any additional packaging that was needed to deliver the items and will be needed to return them, may also be stored at this step.
  3. Returning your items: After the Material Handling stage at the end of the show, your items will be placed back on a truck for their next location.

Know Your Bill of Lading

A bill of lading (BOL) is the contract between yourself/your company and the carrier you have chosen.  The BOL provides a detailed description of the items being shipped, serves as a receipt of shipment, and is a legally binding contract. It is also a key document for managing the items of your shipment and preventing theft.

When filling out a BOL, follow these tips:

Be Detail Oriented: When all your items are accounted for before they are shipped, it can be easy to take for granted that nothing will happen to the shipment. Therefore, it can be tempting to skip certain details. However, it is important that you give all required details in the event that something is lost or damaged since the BOL will be consulted to confirm details and value.

Indicate Extra Requirements: A BOL also gives you the opportunity to give special instructions and request certain items. For example, if your shipment needs to be delivered to an area with restricted access, the carrier will need to know this ahead of time to ensure they can access it when necessary.

Take Time to Review: With so many steps to the shipping process and details to take care of, you may want to sign the BOL just to get the process on the way. However, it is a good idea to look over what you’ve written and any information from your carrier to ensure everything is correct.

Best Trade Show Shipping Experience

Pro Tips for the Best Trade Show Shipping Experience

Consider a Longer Shipping Window: While there are ways to get items to a trade show faster in the event that things cannot be shipped earlier, this last minute approach will always be more expensive. It also increases the chance your items might not arrive on time. So, whenever possible, allow for a generous shipping window.

Ship Early to a Warehouse Near the Show:  Similar to leaving a longer shipping window, shipping early to a nearby warehouse can also help ensure your booth and other items are there and ready for you on the day of the show with plenty of time to spare.

Stay in Touch with Your Carrier: When you partner with a trade show shipping company, you will have an assigned representative as your primary contact. This representative will have all the details about your inbound and outbound shipping needs. While your rep will make contact with you at key points, you should also strive to communicate with them frequently as well. Doing this establishes a relationship and helps to ensure your needs and expectations are met throughout the process.

Understand Your Shipping Insurance: Your items are insured during the shipping process but are they insured at the show? What is the max insurance will cover if your items are damaged or lost? Oftentimes, people are so focused on the trade show itself, they don’t consider questions or details like this. Discuss with your trade show carrier what insurance is available and which is best for you.

Know How Your Items Will Get to the Next Show: attending multiple trade shows? If so, there may be expedited shipping available from one show to the next. This is sometimes offered because multiple companies will all be attending multiple shows. The official organizer of the show will be able to answer this for you.

What Should You Look for in a Trade Show Shipping Partner?

Perhaps the most important thing you want your trade show carrier to have is actual experience in trade show shipping. While it may be tempting to choose another type of shipping company because of cost, speed, or convenience, this can end up costing you far more in the long run.

Unlike dedicated trade show carriers, other shipping methods may not have the resources to load, and unload large booths and equipment safely. Perhaps, even more importantly, they may not have as robust of a logistics team as a trade show carrier. A logistics expert is needed to work out the fine details of how, when, and where your items are delivered.

Moreover, a trade show shipping company will assign you to a representative that will be your primary contact through the entire process. Your representative will be available to answer your questions, give updates, and generally keep you informed so you are never left in the dark about where your shipment is.

Partner with a Trusted Trade Show Carrier

When it comes to trade shows, appearances and first impressions mean a great deal. When you partner with an experienced trade show carrier, you get logistics expertise that will ensure your items arrive safe, on time, and in perfect condition.

At RoadLINX, we understand how important it is for your items to be handled carefully and arrive safely.  To learn more about what we can do to help make your business’s trade show a success, call us at  905-760-1141.

Get a quote today!

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