There are two critical aspects of your exhibit installation schedule that are easy to confuse:  Target Move-in – the time and date that your exhibit must arrive and be checked in at the show or marshalling yard, and Set-up Time – the time that you may begin working on your exhibit installation at a trade show.   The exhibitor service manual (ESM) doesn’t always mention both of these schedules.  Their are cases where the Move-in is specified clearly – a) trucks must check in by this time, b) at the marshalling yard at this address,  c) for booth numbers in this range or booths in this zone from the targeted move-in map.   There are also cases where the Move-in is not specified.  Trade Show Set-up days are specified, but there is no specific delivery schedule for your booth.  In this case, it is best to find out if your exhibit must arrive at a certain time and day in order to not incur any off-target penalty charges.  Off-target penalties are usually 50% of total freight handling charges, so these are very significant expenses.  In addition, off-target freight can be severely delayed from making it into the show hall, and thus, adversely affect your set-up schedule and labor costs.   Freight delivered or moved into the trade show hall before or after straight time hours also incurs a steep service fee to cover overtime freight handling costs.   Conversely, it is sometimes possible that a shipment can be checked into the marshalling yard a day early, placing your truck closer to the front of the line, positively affecting your set-up schedule.   Using the advanced warehouse often dictates that your freight will be moved into the trade show hall a day before any shipments that are sent directly to the hall are received.  If you have a complicated set-up or beginning set-up earlier will afford more straight time labor hours, the small cost of using the advanced warehouse can pay off handsomely in terms of reduced total project cost and piece of mind.   Set-up time – Beginning set-up time is often not clearly spelled out in the exhibitor service manual (ESM).  In the absence of a clearly specified set-up schedule, it is best to use your own judgment and the guidance of the general contractor (GC).   If you are attending a large show and want to begin setting up your exhibit the first day of the targeted move-in, you need to factor in a buffer between when your freight is delivered to the show, and when you will actually begin exhibit set-up.  This is because there may be 10-100 trucks waiting to be unloaded at the same time.  It is commonplace for a line of trucks to take 4 or more hours to unload, and the GC uses such a backlog to keep their staff busy on a consistent basis, since the fork lift drivers unloading the trucks are paid a 4 hour minimum whether they work 4 or less hours and there is a large quantity of freight to be moved through a small number of freight doors.   As mentioned before, using the advanced warehouse can help you to hedge your bet by delivering your freight before the line of trucks, and often a day earlier than direct shipments to the show.  Confirm with the GC that advanced freight will be delivered earlier to the hall if you have any doubts.  This is usually, but not always the case.   Finally, document all of your discussions with the GC and Show Management.  Save your “chats,” any e-mailed responses to your questions, and keep track of names, dates and times when you get information orally.  GCs are prone to make mistakes, and you need this contact data in order to get bills fixed during or after the show.  And if you are not getting the results that you need directly from the GC contact show management. Show management is often more determined to keep you satisfied than the GC.