Chances are, by the time your tradeshow starts, you have already overcome several hurdles to make it happen. One of the biggest being getting everything where it needs to be, on time and intact. While shipping will always have its challenges, it doesn’t have to break the bank. Here are six costly shipping mistakes and what you can do to avoid them.
1. Shipping too much stuff
While you want to make sure you are prepared and have what you need for your big event, don’t bring so much material that you end up paying to ship it all back afterwards. Even the weight of small items like literature or promotional items can add up. While it’s great to give your prospects something they can take away, remember you don’t have to load them up with everything.
Instead, use this as an opportunity to get their contact information and send follow-up material or perhaps a follow-up gift. Or, even better, take advantage of technology and direct prospects to a specific landing page designed for the event.
2. Selecting a shipping company solely on price
It’s always a good idea to get quotes from multiple carriers, but make sure you compare more than just the bottom line.
- How much does insurance cover in the event something is damaged or doesn’t arrive on time?
- How well does the shipping company understand tradeshow logistics and the requirements of transporting exhibit components?
- What is the charge for waiting time should they be in the marshalling yard for several hours before obtaining a dock space.
- Should something not go as planned, will they have customer service available to help?
The cost of shipping tradeshow displays can add up, but don’t let price be the ruling factor because when it comes to selecting a shipping company, you definitely get what you pay for.
3. Missing deadlines
Planning ahead saves you headaches and money in shipping costs. Make sure to review the show’s exhibitor manual closely so you’re aware of move-in and move-out dates, advance warehouse-shipping dates and show site-shipping dates. The closer the show date approaches, the more expensive shipping your items will become.
4. Shipping directly to the show vs. the advance warehouse
Most trade shows offer you the flexibility to ship directly to a designated advance warehouse well before the day of the event, rather than directly to the show site. So what’s the advantage? Having your freight shipped to the advance warehouse allows you time to track your shipment and ensure everything has been received. Since you can do this in advance of the show, you allow yourself time for error, should there be any.
This also ensures your materials will be ready when you arrive for set up. It is usually more expensive than direct to show pricing, but usually it moves into the show on the earliest move-in date possible. When freight is sent directly to the show site, you’re at the mercy of the carrier who controls the delivery time unless you take a full truckload.
5. Forgetting about drayage fees for multiple shipments
The dreaded “d” word; otherwise known as drayage. While it’s an unavoidable cost for tradeshows, you can avoid the common costly mistake of sending multiple small shipments. Drayage fees can vary depending on several factors, but all shows have a 100 lb. minimum handling charge.
So, rather than sending multiple small shipments, it’s best to consolidate your materials into larger shipments. Plus, fewer packages mean less opportunity for something to get displaced. If you happen to forget something small, check with your hotel to see if they will accept it for you as the cost will generally be much less.
6. Not auditing bills and comparing to estimates
Most exhibit managers are great at trying to be as cost-effective as possible when it comes to getting shipping estimates for a tradeshow. But few take the time needed to audit the final bills against the estimates. Mistakes happen. It’s not uncommon to be double-charged for something or have a service you didn’t receive added to your bill. Be sure you got what you’re paying for and check for any extra fees you were unaware of.
About Peggy Swords
Peggy Swords is the founder and president of Excalibur Exhibits, a $10 million Houston-based exhibit manufacturing and production corporation. Excalibur Exhibits designs, builds, delivers, assembles and disassembles as many as 300 exhibits per year. Swords was named as a finalist for NAWBO Houston 2003 Woman Business Owner of the Year and 2005 Enterprising Woman of the Year Finalist. Additionally, Excalibur Exhibits is a five time member of the Inc 5000, a three time member of the LSU100 and a two time member of the Houston Fast 100, a list of fastest growing privately held companies.