Trade Show Logistics – Dismantle Hours vs Driver Check-in vs Clean Floor Policy: How exhibit pack-up and dismantle scheduling are affected

There are three key parameters that affect the schedule for packing up your trade show display at the end of the show, these are:


1)      Dismantle Hours – hours that convention center is open for taking apart and packing your exhibit.

2)      Mandatory Driver Check-in time – time by which your truck driver must check in at the Marshaling Yard prior to picking-up your exhibit.

3)      Clean Floor Policy – mandatory time at which your bill of lading must be turned in and exhibit completely packed before the general contractor will fine you for being off the time target.


Dismantle Hours –

Often-times the temptation for exhibit dismantle is to schedule all dismantle during straight time hours for several reasons:

a)      By the morning after the show, your storage containers will be back at the booth.

b)      When hiring dismantle labor sources the hourly rate will decrease by 30-40% when comparing straight time to overtime.

c)      There is a certain level of exhaustion at the close of the show, and the time directly following the show provides the last chance to meet up with friends and prospects before these key contacts travel.


Dismantle Scheduling should be directly affected by Mandatory Driver Check-in Time and the Clean Floor Policy for the show.

Here’s Why:


Mandatory Driver Check-in Time

If your truck driver is required to check into the Marshalling Yard early in the dismantle schedule, such as 8:00 AM the morning following the show, you will start to pay for waiting time for that truck driver at some short interval following the driver’s check in.

For Instance, your shipper might give you 2 hours of wait time included with the cost of the shipment.  So:

Driver checks in at 8:00 AM.

Paid driver wait time begins at 10:00 AM.  Wait time is billed at $75 to $100 per hour.

You hand in bill of lading at 12:00 noon.

Your truck is called in to pick-up exhibit at 2:30.

You pay 4.5 hours of wait time in addition to other dismantle fees.


Clean Floor Policy

The general contractor (GC) and show management are under a time pressure to empty the conference center of all related show materials.  This time pressure varies from show to show, depending on the contract with show management, and the next scheduled event moving into the conference center.


This time pressure can be very intense.  And one of the ways that the GC gets exhibitors to comply is with the clean floor policy.  This policy states that after such and such an hour, the exhibitor will be fined a freight handling fee, if their exhibit is not completely packed up, and their bill of lading handed in at the GC service desk.  This fine is often 50% of the total freight handling bill, so whether you are a large or small exhibitor, this is a hefty fine!


There is often a second clause attached to the clean floor policy that states if the dismantle of the exhibit is not actively taking place by such and such a time, the GC will intervene and begin dismantle and pack-up of the exhibit.  The damage and disorganization that would be caused by such a course of events would be the equivalent of a hefty fine!


There is another variable to consider before scheduling exhibit dismantle: the labor minimum charge. The labor minimum charge is used to insure that it is worthwhile for a laborer to come to work that day.  For exhibit and dismantle labor in most cities, the minimum charge is 4 hours per laborer.  This is an important variable for two reasons: 1)  You may be able to work the job straight through and pay the same amount at overtime, as a job that takes 6-7 hours to complete with a 4 hour minimum at overtime and an additional 4 hour minimum at straight time.  2)  You may take longer to do the job with less men, but get an hour worked for each hour that is paid for by using each laborer for the full 4 hours.


Depending on the labor company that you use, you may be able to get labor without paying for the 4 hour minimum on your project.  This is particularly relevant if you have more men added to your project, once they have worked on a different project for the first part of the day.  Speak with the city manager from your labor supplier to discuss the details.

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.