Trade Show Display Planning: Get Your Display Stand to the Show!
In order to have a successful exhibition, your trade show display has to make it to the show. While this sounds elementary, getting your display stand to the trade show doesn’t happen by snapping your fingers or even necessarily by tossing it into the trunk of your car.
Shipping your exhibit booth is more involved than that. Your trade show display planning needs to include planning the logistics involved. There are details regarding dates, times, warehousing, and shipping carriers that you don’t want to overlook. Keep in mind, too, that the show will likely recommend you use a particular freight company to ship your display stand. Although using their recommended carrier may make the loading dock procedures easier, you are under no obligation to use the show’s recommended carrier.
You should also remember that if you are shipping your trade show display out of the country for an international trade show, there are customs requirements that you need to adhere to. These requirements will not likely be outlined in the show’s exhibitor’s kit. You’ll have to research those on your own.
The first decision you need to make when it comes to shipping your trade show display is where to send it. The two biggest elements affecting this decision are time and money. If you decide to ship your display stand to the advance warehouse, you are buying yourself some time. The advance warehouse will usually accept deliveries for up to a month prior to the trade show itself. Having some time between the expected delivery date at the warehouse and the actual show enables you to deal with any delays or shipping problems. Using the advance warehouse may present a trade-off in costs; typically it is less expensive to ship to the warehouse, but there may be added warehousing fees – it all depends on the show.
If you should decide to ship your display stand to the convention center – direct to the convention site – then you are bypassing those warehouse fees; in trade, the drayage fees at the show may be more expensive. Also, you are minimizing the time you have to deal with delays and shipping problems. Typically, if you ship direct to a show site, the shipment MUST arrive on a single, specified date – normally, your setup date.
If a shipping problem should arise and you arranged for your display stand to ship direct, you will have very few options to fix that problem. In addition, and unlike conditions at the advance warehouse, where deliveries are normally accepted all day, the trade show will have very specific delivery windows to the show site. If your carrier misses that window, you could be left without your display – or facing extra charges from the show manager to accept the display after hours.
Each trade show will have designated move-in and move-out dates. Usually exhibitors with larger trade show displays are given more time to put the displays together and to take them down. You will want to pay close attention to the dates the show has provided you. If you’re an old pro at exhibiting, you probably don’t need much time to install your exhibit booth. If it is a large display, it may be worthwhile to hire install and dismantle (I&D) support, either from the show or an outside vendor.
If you’re new to trade show exhibiting; give yourself as much time as possible to put your display together. Better yet, practice at least once at your office, to make sure you know what you’re doing and to also make sure you have everything you need – a few missing screws or bolts with unique dimensions could be really bad news…
Exhibitors with smaller, light weight displays may wish to bring their display with them or ship to their hotel and bring it in to the show for set-up themselves. This can save a considerable amount of money – but, before choosing this option, check the show rules again, to make sure you can do that – some shows have limits on the size, weight, or number of packages that an exhibitor can hand-carry in to the show – make sure your plan doesn’t violate these rules. Conventions sometimes rule that you can’t use tools, or can’t use a ladder while setting up your display – thus requiring you to use union labor, which can be especially expensive if it isn’t already scheduled…
If you pay attention to the details that the convention producer provides regarding dates and times for shipping and installing your display stand, and make sure you fully understand the trade-offs between the different shipping methods, your show will be off to a good start.