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3 Things to Consider when Preparing for Trade Shows

Pegasus Logistics GroupInsider

Did you know that over 80% of trade show attendees have buying authority? Did you know that 92% of attendees are looking for new products? Statistics like these show why trade shows are crucial in driving your company’s success. The opportunity to win new business and capture leads from prospects with decision making power is huge!

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Although they are great opportunities for your company, trade shows can present some logistics difficulties. Transportation failures result in lost revenue, which can be devastating to any organization. Drayage penalties, wasted labor and forced freight create unwanted cost that can cripple your budget. Ultimately, a vacant booth and missing displays will turn a valuable opportunity into an expensive waste of resources.

Taking the right steps on the front end simplifies the logistics planning for a trade show and mitigates the risk of costly complications. Utilizing experienced providers and consulting with industry experts who understand trade shows can relieve stress and save money. Consider the following when choosing a partner for your trade show business to ensure more successful shows and a satisfied sales force.

1. Show Move-In

Without proper planning, your company could incur a variety of penalties and time delays before the show even begins. Poor transportation planning can devastate your budget and set the show up for failure. The ultimate goal is an on-time, damage free move-in. Choosing a proven carrier with event logistics expertise is critical. A simple way to validate a carrier’s credentials is by asking for current client references. Drivers need as much information as possible, including, but not limited to, marshalling yard address, check-in time, decorator contacts, booth numbers, and the show name. Any potential complications with show move-in can be solved through proactive planning by your partner.

One option to consider with your partner is advanced warehousing. There are pros and cons to going direct to show vs the advanced warehouse. First and foremost, reading through the exhibitor manual will help guide your decision making process.

For certain shows, advanced warehousing can provide cost savings and confidence that your goods will be in your booth space in a timely manner. This can be especially helpful for larger events. If you are participating in a large show, wait time charges can add up quickly. Using the advanced warehouse typically gets your booth properties in your booth space on time.

Going direct to show site also has unique advantages. High value, delicate products need limited touch points, and moving direct to show site takes an additional handling component out of the equation. The direct to show option is the appropriate choice when there are time constraints, booth materials that are moving show to show, or simply not having your booth ready to ship days in advance. Consistency of service, direct route options, and faster ground transit times help alleviate the risks of shipping direct to show site. Drivers will always need empty scale tickets when delivering direct to show sites with large booth properties. If the driver does not have empty scale tickets, the freight will be held at the unloading dock until the driver returns from a weigh station. This delays setup and adds additional hours of labor to the I&D process. Working with the right team can help determine the best delivery option on a show by show basis.

2. Show Close

The conclusion of the show is not the end of your logistics process. There are numerous opportunities for your company to incur penalties during move out. The MHA, or Material Handling Agreement, is the bill of lading for the movement of the booth, and it needs to list all pieces that the shipment contains as well as what company is assigned as the carrier. If the company is not specified, the decorator will not allow the carrier to pick up the freight after the show. “Forced freight” is when the decorator, due to this delay, takes control of your freight and forces it onto another carrier. This can increase your transportation costs by 100% or more. Forced freight also has limited visibility, which puts your product at risk of missing the next show because of an undesirable route back to your selected destination. Properly filling out the MHA is the best way to avoid this problem, and we suggest an internal show packet be provided to your team that walks them step by step through this process.

Dismantling your booth takes time and presents a new set of risks. Working with your decorator and/or I&D partner will provide insight on when the booth will be available to pick up. If carriers arrive too early, wait time can add up. Each show has a different carrier check in process, so it is important to communicate effectively with your carrier at every show. If your designated carrier arrives one minute after the predetermined cut off time, the booth will be forced. Again, proper planning with your logistics partner can save you both headaches and penalties.

PWD’s (piece count, weight, and dimensions) are used to route freight in a cost-effective, time-efficient manner. Inaccuracies in this area can actually prevent product from being loaded into certain types of equipment or create unique challenges when delivered to the destination. Issues with door clearance, lift gate, two-man delivery teams, or even product breakdown are all problems that can arise from inaccurate product information. A good logistics partner will insist upon accurate information beforehand, including pictures and site visits, to prevent high cost and time delays caused by specification changes.

3. Relationships

To facilitate a smooth trade show experience, exhibitors should have collaborative relationships with I&D teams, logistics providers and the decorator of choice. These partners must have a clear understanding of the entire event logistics process. Inaccurately planning target move in and move out dates and times can heavily impact the process of unloading in a timely manner, installing, dismantling, and loading out. Penalties and additional overtime costs can escalate quickly if there are any hiccups in this process. The right partners will be experienced in navigating the myriad potential time-dependent penalties that trade shows provide.

In conclusion, trade shows are a great way to grow your business, but can be chaotic and stressful events if not handled properly. Proactive planning is the key to a successful event. Effective communication between all parties will limit opportunities for confusion and failure. Partnering with a logistics provider that you can trust to get the job done right is tremendously valuable. Their relationships and experience will help streamline the process, allowing you to focus on the important part of the show. The right partners can lead to increased sales and an extremely successful event.