6 Sneaky (But Avoidable) Tradeshow Logistics Costs

December 4, 2018 at 9:32 AMJen Deming
Tradeshow Shipping Blog Image

Anyone who has ever shipped to an event is probably familiar with the special level of stress and frustration involved in coordinating show shipments. Tradeshow logistics is tricky business - not only are you juggling crunched timelines leading up to  the show, but shippers also have to be aware of the many potential hidden costs involved throughout the process. Any misstep can end up costing shippers in surprise freight fees. The good news is that most of these costs are avoidable, as long as you know what to look out for. We've compiled a list of the things you need to keep an eye on to protect your special event freight spend. 

  1. The cost of shipping to advance warehouse vs. show site 

    You have the choice to ship directly to the tradeshow floor or to an advance warehouse where your show materials are held leading up to the actual show start date. There are advantages and disadvantages to both, and as an informed shipper you need to weigh what makes the most sense for you. Shipping to an advance warehouse will give you more time to be flexible should anything go wrong or be delayed. Though material handling fees may be slightly higher, it doesn't cost more to ship to the advance warehouse. An added benefit is less worry about whether your shipment will arrive on time, and you get a leg up on the shipments arriving to the show site. Your shipment materials will be ready and waiting for you at your booth space when you arrive the day of set-up. 

    Shipping directly to site can be tempting to avoid these initial material handling costs, but keep in mind that hundreds of other event shipments will be arriving at the same time as yours. If you've never seen a show-site marshaling yard, think of a rush-hour traffic jam during the last weekend of holiday shopping season. It's not pretty, and hold-ups cost lots of money in detention fees. If your shipment arrives late, the team waiting to build your booth will pass on overtime charges. If you're running extra-late, springing for expedited transportation charges will cost you even more. We've said it before, and we'll say it again: plan ahead, and build in extra time. Make your decisions based on what realistically makes the most sense for your business.

  2. Delivering or picking up your shipment in overtime

    The exact time your tradeshow shipment is loaded or unloaded is critical, and meeting your target time will save you significantly. In addition to open dates for both the advance warehouse and show site, there is a window of hours called straight time. These are the hours, and days, your shipment needs to arrive for the show in order not to be hit with overtime fees. This window is usually restricted to typical work hours, 8:00 am to 4:00 pm, for most shows, Monday through Friday. Anything that arrives after those hours, or on the weekends, will be considered overtime and incur extra charges. It is critical to check in your exhibitor packet exactly what hours and dates are safe for your shipment to arrive prior to the show.

    You also need to make sure your specific check-in time is noted on the material handling form, especially if your carrier arrives early. Often, a truck will arrive the night before, ahead of schedule. If there's no time noted, the driver may check in and get loaded on overtime, and this will increase your bill significantly. A great best practice to stick to is writing "load only during straight hours" in order to diminish the likelihood it will be loaded outside of that time, as well as act as documentation to help your case should your freight be loaded during overtime and you want to dispute the extra charge.

  3. The price of damages and how freight insurance can help

    Shipment damage or loss can occur at any time. While carriers do everything they can to keep them from happening, it's just an unfortunate part of freight shipping. With your load moving in and out of several different terminals (especially if your freight is traveling a greater distance), your shipment may encounter a renegade forklift or a heavy-handed loader. That's why it is key to package appropriately and securely. Custom crates are a great idea, especially for furniture and other fragile booth materials. Imagine arriving to a show and your seating is damaged and unusable. Sure, you have the option to rent a couch but it's going to cost you thousands for rental in addition to any repairs you will have to spring for to get things in working order for the next show.

    Because carrier liability is limited, it's always a good idea to look into additional freight insurance as a secondary option. Tradeshow shipment yards, docks, storage rooms, and show floors are all very congested places. Accidents happen, and should they happen to your show materials, at least you know your freight's full value is covered. Just keep in mind that every third-party insurance provider has different terms, so read carefully and make sure you fully understand the coverage you are getting.

  4. Using the wrong NMFC and the risk of re-class

    Did you know that materials being shipped to events have their very own class code? Don't worry, unless you are shipping to tradeshows regularly, most shippers don't either. Instead of calculating your shipment based on commodity type (furniture, signage, etc), any item either coming to or departing from a tradeshow should be rated Class 125. This can very well mean that the class is different than what you may be using on other shipments, and as a result, the price could be different than what you are used to seeing. It is important to get this quoted correctly, so if you are tempted to use a lower code because it's what you are used to, beware the risk of re-class. You don't want to receive surprise charges/fees when the carrier catches on and your shipment is rated higher than you wanted. The good news is that many booth material items such as chairs or desks tend to ship at a class higher than 125 anyway, so using a preset tradeshow-specific class code may save you. 

  5. Material handling and drayage fees

    Material handling and drayage are common fees incurred by event shippers, and often the least anticipated. This type of handling refers specifically to transportation services from your carrier's delivery vehicle, at the dock, to your booth space. These services include unloading at the dock, moving your materials, as well as storing your empty containers for the duration of the show. Once the show is over, gathering the empty containers from storage as well as transferring the freight back to the loading dock will also incur fees. A top recommendation for tradeshow shippers is to crate your loads, rather than sending loose boxes. Some show decorators charge drayage based on how the shipment is packaged. Crating is the least expensive option and also adds protection against damage and loss by keeping your materials together. 

    Completing a material handling form is crucial to setting up your outbound shipment accurately. Shippers know to have an accurate BOL prepared, but a material handling form is what the decorator looks at. The carrier name for pick-up must be noted, otherwise you will fall victim to "forced freight." This means the shipment will be sent with the decorator's carrier of choice, and that can be pricey. If it's a carrier your 3PL works with (for PartnerShip, UPSFreight or YRC Freight) an LOA can be submitted so you will be billed at your discounted pricing. If not, then you will need to pay the bill direct to the carrier. 

    The tough part about drayage fees is that these services will be performed by a specific decorator that is under contract with the show. That leaves no room for shippers to negotiate with other options the way you might with transportation to and from the event location. However, there are ways that event shippers can try to keep these costs down as low as possible, particularly regarding packaging. The biggest factors determining drayage fees are weight and piece count. Each piece may be assessed a minimum charge, so make good use of palletizing or crating those loads! They are easier to transport to and from the showroom. Go lightweight for additional savings. Heavy building materials for your booth items will quickly increase your drayage bill, so stick to lighter more transportable building options for your booth tables and seating.  

  6. Shipping there and back for separate shows

    It pays to put the time in to accurately plan how much product, booth materials, marketing collateral, giveaways, and anything else you may need. Successful event shippers create a strategy for what needs to be done before, after, and during the show. Check into any information regarding the tradeshow traffic from past years. Talk to the event coordinators and point people to gauge what you think you will need. Anticipate and plan for a little extra, but don't over do it. If you are going to be shipping to another show, look into whether it is more cost efficient to move directly to the next event rather than scheduling a return shipment back home. Very often, the storage fees at the next show location's warehouse may be cheaper than it would be to ship home then ship back out. You will have added peace of mind, again, that your shipment will arrive with enough time before the show so that you can concentrate on and prepare for the next show rather than worrying whether it will arrive on time.

Managing tradeshow logistics can wear on the patience of even the most seasoned of shippers. Meeting deadlines and managing the details can be tough, and it can be tempting to step away and just hope everything goes smoothly. But, it pays to be diligent and well-informed, because that's the best way you can protect your bottom line from hidden tradeshow costs. If you're still feeling a little overwhelmed this tradeshow season, don't worry - the experts at PartnerShip can help. Call 800-599-2902 to speak with a tradeshow shipping specialist, or download our free white paper for more information about tradeshow shipping.

Tradeshow Shipping White Paper CTA

Dallas, Here We Come! A Look at CAMEX 2018

February 27, 2018 at 11:35 AMLeah Palnik
CAMEX 2018 Preview

Months of planning and preparation lead up to one very important show for us – CAMEX! If you’re not familiar with CAMEX, it is the campus retailing industry’s largest educational conference and buying expo. It’s produced and hosted by our parent company, the National Association of College Stores (NACS), so it’s a big deal for us. CAMEX gives us a chance to meet with our customers, talk to them about their shipping needs, and have some fun with them!

Get excited
If you’re going to be at CAMEX, we’d love to see you. Here are the top four reasons you should visit us in booth #2631:

  1. You need a place to chill. We have plenty of space to sit and put your feet up when you need a break from walking the floor. Our booth has comfy couches, tables, and even a charging station so you can juice up your phone. 
  2. But first, coffee. You need energy to tackle the day, and we have your fix. We’ll be serving complimentary coffee, tea, hot chocolate, and cookies all day. Whatever your preference – it’s our treat! 
  3. You can say you went to jail at CAMEX and you’ll have the photos to prove it. Our photo op will transport you into the Wild West, complete with cowboy props. Don’t ask questions — just come check it out.
  4. You couldn’t imagine missing your chance to visit with your favorite PartnerShip rep. Our senior account representatives Bryan Chambers and Dillon Rickards want to hear what’s going on with your store and help you with your freight.

Mark your calendars
As you’re planning your days at CAMEX, you’ll want to make sure your schedule includes these events:

  • On Sunday from 4pm – 5pm we’ll be hosting a happy hour at our booth! You never turn down an invitation to happy hour, right? 
  • On Monday from 1pm – 1:20pm our very own Dillon Rickard will be presenting at the CAMEX Theater. He’ll give you some practical tips on how to become more efficient with your shipping operations and help you identify areas where you can save money.

We’re excited to see everyone in Dallas this year. If you’re going to be at CAMEX, make sure to stop by booth #2631! 

Want to keep up with us during the show? Follow @PartnerShipLLC on Twitter! Follow us on Twitter!

It's Show Time! Wrapping up at Fancy Food and Winter NAMM

January 30, 2018 at 2:42 PMJen Deming
Fancy Food Show 2018

It's winter tradeshow season here at PartnerShip, and this year two of our favorites are taking place back to back! Senior Program Manager Harry Centa attended both the Winter Fancy Food and NAMM Shows, jet-setting from San Francisco to Anaheim, California, taking in all the music and tasty snacks one could handle over the course of a week.

First up was the Winter Fancy Food Show, put on by the Specialty Food Association and created for industry leaders and innovators eager to exhibit the future of specialty food! Over 80,000 products are exhibited, with plenty of samples and take-homes to enjoy and share. Thought leaders plan sessions on buying, storefront trends and hot new flavor profiles to expect for 2018.

Fancy Food Show 2018

Harry set up shop in the lobby, helping SFA exhibitors prep their event shipments' return trips home and answer any questions about PartnerShip and the shipping services we provide members. The show is also a great opportunity to re-connect with association members and recognize industry leaders with awards honoring creativity and culinary excellence.

NAMM Show 2018After receiving his fill of tasty treats, Harry traveled to Anaheim for the Winter NAMM Show, where artists, tech experts, and music lovers unite twice a year to share industry trends, education, and of course, enjoy live music! The bi-yearly event, put on by the National Association of Music Merchants, serves as a gathering place for industry leaders who want to expand and present the newest innovations in musical development, sound recording, lighting technology and serves as a platform for educational programs promoting the importance of making music. 

Now entering its 117th year, the show features over 7,000 brands and five stages featuring live concerts from up and coming musical artists, as well as quite a few big names. One of the highlights of the show included the Breakfast of Champions with special guest Bob Weir of the Grateful Dead as well as She Rocks Awards at the House of Blues, honoring women in music with a performance by Melissa Etheridge.

NAMM 2018 Guitars

From snacks to songwriting, the Fancy Food and NAMM shows allow PartnerShip the opportunity to say hello to old friends and meet business owners and industry professionals who can benefit from their association memberships. These are two of the most anticipated events we visit during the year, and we would like to thank all of the attendees and exhibitors who helped make them such great shows!

Trade Show Shipping Tips

January 26, 2018 at 2:28 PMLeah Palnik
Trade Show Shipping Tips

Trade show shipping can be nerve-racking and a bit confusing for exhibitors. Nobody knows this better than Jennifer Hammersmith, our Customer Service Manager. Her team helped exhibitors ship to 215 different trade shows last year, and she has seen it all. I asked her a few questions and she was kind enough to share some wisdom about what exhibitors can do to make everything go as smooth as possible.

How far in advance should you get a quote for your exhibit shipment?
One to two months out from the show is the ideal time to get a quote. Any farther out and rates may change due to fuel. But you don’t want to wait until the last minute either. Use the advanced warehouse rather than shipping directly to the show site to ensure your exhibit materials are ready to go for the show.

What tips do you have for first time exhibitors?
Don’t overdo it. Start small with a 10x10 booth and a modest stock of product. Your first year is a great time to learn and gather new ideas. Once you’re there, make sure to walk the show floor to look at what other exhibitors are doing and to get inspiration. Also, take plenty of notes about what worked and what didn’t. That way when you plan for the following year you’ll be ready to take it bigger.

What is a common question you get from exhibitors?
Exhibitors usually ask about the roles between PartnerShip, the carrier, and the decorator. As the broker, PartnerShip helps exhibitors set up their shipment. One of our customer service representatives will recommend specific days to ship your materials out, secure a discounted rate with the carrier, and help you schedule your shipment. The carrier then picks up and delivers your shipment. Once it arrives, that’s where it’s handed off to the show decorator. The decorator is responsible for the drayage and material handling, meaning they get it to your booth.

What’s the best way exhibitors can plan around bad weather?
The advance warehouse exists for a reason. Take advantage of it and ship early! Keep an eye on the weather – not just in your city and the show city, but also nationally. Think about what happens to airlines when one city is hit with a bad storm. Flights in and out of that city aren’t the only ones affected. Airlines will often have to delay and cancel flights across the board. Shipping is very similar. Bad weather in one area affects a carrier’s network all across the country, causing costly disruptions.

What are some best practices exhibitors should follow?

  1. Ship early (have you noticed a trend?). It’s the best way to ensure you’re all set for the show. If there’s damage to your shipment or you experience delays due to weather, you’ll have time to create a contingency plan.
  2. Use bright, unique packaging. The best way to think about this is how you mark your luggage when flying. The more you can make your luggage stand out, the easier it is to identify it as it comes through baggage claim. A simple way to do this is to find patterned duck tape and wrap it around your container.
  3. Track and confirm delivery. When you confirm delivery with the decorator you can also have them send you a picture. That way you’re able to see if there’s any visible damage ahead of time. This extra step will save you from potential heartache when you arrive to the show.
  4. Take a picture of your freight before it leaves. If you have a picture of your freight (with a time-stamp if possible), you can easily help the carrier or decorator locate it if it’s lost. You’ll also have evidence of its prior condition if it sustains damage during transit.
  5. Create a pack list. If the shipment is lost or damaged, you’ll have all the information you need ready to go. Include a list of your products, along with the quantity and costs.
  6. Be prepared for the worst case scenario. To compare trade show shipping to flying again, think of how you might protect yourself against lost baggage by putting some essentials in your carry-on. Bring some extra product or collateral in your luggage, just in case something happens to your shipment. Also, think of all aspects of the show – not just your shipment. Have a plan for if you encounter any other disruptions like delayed/canceled flights or the wrong carpet in your booth.

There are a lot of things that can go wrong when you’re exhibiting at a trade show, but if you follow Jennifer’s advice, you’ll be in good shape. If you have a show coming up, you can reach our customer service team by calling 800-599-2902 or emailing sales@PartnerShip.com - or simply request a quote by clicking below.

Get a free quote!

CAMEX 2017 is in the Books! (So to Speak...)

March 7, 2017 at 1:05 PMJerry Spelic

One of the most important tradeshows for PartnerShip is CAMEX, the campus retailing industry’s largest educational conference and buying expo, which brings together thousands of attendees from campus stores as well as hundreds of exhibitors.

PartnerShip is the endorsed shipping partner of the National Association of College Stores (NACS), and through the NACS Shipping Program, we help college stores and vendors save on their shipping costs. CAMEX is a great place to meet with members, rekindle old friendships, and find more ways to help them ship smarter and stay competitive.

This year, CAMEX happened in Salt Lake City, and here are a few of our favorite memories:

Free coffee and cookies

Once again, PartnerShip provided free coffee and cookies to weary CAMEX walkers and workers. We love doing it because it gives us the opportunity to say thank you to our customers and let them recharge.

Salt Lake City

Salt Lake City is a beautiful place, and we hope that you got to explore Temple Square, or see the Great Salt Lake, or just enjoy the wonderful views of the Wasatch Mountains in the distance.

Games

Did you get a chance to play the skiing or snowmobile simulator games in the PartnerShip booth? We hope you did and had a few minutes of fun because we know how much work tradeshows are.

New branding

Did you see the new PartnerShip branding in our booth? Stay tuned, because a new PartnerShip.com website will be launching soon.

You!

Really, the best part of CAMEX is you. We love the opportunity to talk with all of you – attendees, exhibitors, and everyone in-between. Whether you stopped by our booth or we got a chance to talk to you at one of the receptions, we enjoyed spending time with you and hope you had a great show!

CAMEX 2017 was a great time and we look forward to seeing you next year in Dallas, March 2 – 6, 2018!