Trade Show Logistics / Shipping Challenges – Rush “Ground” shipments

Trade Show Logistics / Shipping Challenges – Rush “Ground” shipments, Team Drivers, Trucking Teams, Moving Shipments rapidly from one show to another

*** What are your options for moving a crated trade show exhibit or stand across the United States in a very short time frame? ***

Air Shipping or rush Ground Shipping

Air shipping – very fast at very high cost – 2 – 3 times cost of “rush” ground (over the road) shipment
Size limited – Some crates will not fit on plane
Crates may take up so much of airplane cargo space that pricing is prohibitive and some crates cannot be laid on their side to fit in the plane without damaging the crate’s contents.

Ground “Rush” Shipping
Semi-Trucks or 18 wheelers may be driven by a team of drivers which allows a truck to move completely across the US in 3 days. Trucking safety rules (laws) require drivers to take a break of at least 30 minutes for every eight hours they drive, and driver’s must maintain a daily 11-hour limit on driving. By choosing a team of drivers for transport, you make it possible for a truck to be on the road for 22 out of 24 hours. As a result, a semi-trailer truck or “tractor trailer” can move much farther, much faster when driven by a team of two drivers.

Choosing a driving team for a trade show project:

Team should have trade show pick-up and delivery experience
Team must be willing to communicate directly with you as customer for your piece of mind and to help you coordinate the logistics of the move – if you need to move your freight this quickly, chances are you will also need to help the truck get into the dock for Outload and into the next dock for Inload
Team should be familiar with routing to avoid bad weather areas (snow / ice)

Remember that with a really tight time frame between trade shows, there are four different variables to control:

1) Receiving your empty crates at your booth directly after the show for quickest pack-up
2) Moving your crates into the semi-trailer ahead of the “normal” move-out schedule
3) Movement of the loaded tractor trailer across the country in the shortest time frame
4) Movement of your crates into the next show without the “normal” delays inherent in the trade show freight move-in process

Work with show management early to determine:
1) Did trade show management put a plan in place to move trade show displays and product from one show to the other as part of a show to show caravan?

2) Did the general contractor put a plan in place to move trade show displays and product from one show to the other as part of a show to show caravan?

3) Communicate early and often with trade show management and the general contractor to let them know of the logistics challenge both during load out for the first show and load in for the next show

Twice, by my team raising concerns with trade show management and / or the general contractor, we actually became the organizers of the show to show caravan. Do not assume that show management or the general contractor knows of the scheduling problem prior to you bringing it to their attention. It may look like they should, but it is very possible that neither organization is aware of the logistical challenge created by the trade show schedule in your industry.

We were recently able to move an exhibit out of a major trade show in Las Vegas a day earlier than scheduled (approximately 5 hours after show close) and into Javitz Convention Center in NY, NY with 2.5 days transit time. In one day, we moved the freight into Javitz, installed the exhibit, and merchandised the exhibit in time for show open the next morning. It is fairly common for freight to be delayed at Javitz for 6 hours or more before movement into this convention center. This was completed in February, winter in much of the country that the truck crossed.

Completion of this project required many e-mails over a 2 month period (approximately 100) and multiple phone calls with show management, the general contractor and the logistics (shipping) company. In fact, in this case, GES logistics was not willing to handle the shipment because of the ultra-short timeline. However, our truck became the “caravan vehicle” for multiple shipments between shows, so we were able to share costs with multiple exhibitors, reducing transport costs. One of the exhibits was a custom 20’ x 20’ and another a custom 20’ x 30’. Both displays were ready for show open, after being dismantled 3000 miles from Manhattan, only 3.5 days earlier. Most importantly, in both cases neither exhibit could be transported by airplane, and both exhibitors reduced shipping costs by 66% or more.

About Exhibit and Display Consultants: EDC was founded in 2002, by Brett Lipeles, a former corporate trade show manager in the Fortune 1000 and partner at a trade show exhibit house and trade show display builder. EDC is a services and display provider for exhibitors who need “best in class” service at lower than average costs. If your company needs a team that will provide the best possible and least expensive “turn-key” solutions at the lowest possible costs, we are the marketing partner that you are seeking. Give us a call today for a free consultation – 401-273-5372 or

Trade Show Logistics – Scheduling Exhibit Install: Target Move-in vs Set-up Time

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.