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Top 10 Tips for a Seamless Trade Show Shipping Process

Updated: May 23, 2019

Are you the one put in charge for planning your upcoming trade show exhibit at your company? Do you have the responsibility of getting your materials and booth to and from the show site?

We can help make this part of the planning process a breeze with these helpful tips stemming from our years of experience managing and shipping trade show booths.

While it may seem simple to get your booth to and from the show, there’s actually a few stages and details that many people may not be aware of or familiar with. This includes knowing what the rules and regulations are (which change from show to show), understanding the most efficient way to manage the entire process, and even the preparation and paperwork required to get your booth ready to ship to or from show site without any hiccups.

Whether it’s your first time handling the logistics of your booth, or even if you might have overseen this part of the planning a few times before, we encourage reading our top 10 tips that outline details commonly overlooked or unknown, and where you can save on time and cost.

  1. Use a carrier with years of business in trade show shipping. When a shipment is trade show related, most dispatchers and drivers probably won't understand the importance of certified weight tickets, notification of delivery to advance warehouses, waiting time, and so forth. Get references from at least three other exhibitors who have used their services. If they don’t specialize in shipping trade show freight, using them can be a high risk factor. CTS drivers are all trade show experienced drivers, the extensive knowledge needed for this specialty type of shipping and just the ins and outs that come with a typical trade show process from end to end.

  2. Purchase the correct service level. Most carriers will charge additional fees for waiting time, equipment, and labor and materials. CTS pricing is all inclusive and you will never see an additional unexpected charge.

  3. Timing is money. Keep in mind: the more expedited the shipment and the shorter time frame for delivery, the more expensive it will be. Always allow an extra day or two for transit time. With CTS, your freight is consolidated only with shipments going to the same trade show, unless otherwise requested or required for its own dedicated truck.

  4. Know your carrier’s shipping minimums. With most carriers, be prepared to pay for “phantom freight” if you are shipping under the minimum weight. If you’re unsure, ask if there’s a minimum weight or dimensional weight requirement on shipments. However, you don’t have to worry about this with CTS, as we do not have minimum set pricing.

  5. Transportation and drayage work hand-in-hand. Drayage costs are directly tied to your shipping. If you plan on getting your booth to show site ahead of schedule, know that Advance Warehouses only accept crated and palletized freight. Pad-wrapped freight is only accepted on pallets. CTS highly recommends utilizing the advance warehouse to avoid delay, wait times, or other variables that may arise during regular shipping time frames. Your shipment will be staged in your booth when you arrive.

  6. Small package deliveries can reduce your drayage budget. When packages arrive without a Bill of Lading (BOL) or airbill, the drayage process grinds to a halt. CTS recommends that exhibitors always palletize their shipments, even if it only contains a few boxes. Keeping them combined as 1 handling unit, to eliminate the risk of missing pieces.

  7. Bill of Lading is the most critical paperwork in the shipping process. The BOL, also known as a material handling form, establishes the terms of a contract between a shipper and a transportation company when freight is being moved between specific points for a specific charge. For this reason, CTS prepares your round trip bills of lading for you and will even have an on-site representative hand deliver the outbound portion to your booth.

  8. Insure your shipment if you can't afford to replace it. Your carrier automatically insures your properties for minimal value – 30 to 60 cents per pound per article – which likely doesn’t come close to covering replacement costs for your exhibit. CTS insures all shipments from $1.00 per pound to $100,000.00 per shipment. Ask your representative before shipping.

  9. Include your shipping agent on your planning team. Your shipping agent can save you a bundle by knowing all of the details upfront: (a) what type of freight you need to ship; (b) how it is packed (crates, pallets, individual cartons, or pad-wrapped; (c) the dimensions and weight of the pieces to be shipped; (d) its final destination; (e) exactly when it needs to arrived

  10. Reach out to CTS to go over all the details with you directly. After reviewing tips 1-9, our final tip is to connect with us. By just getting a few minutes of your time, we'll be able to understand all the details unique to your exhibit, and completely take over the process so you don't miss any details. In addition to a quote, we'll suggest dates and the best strategy for moving your exhibit without you having to really worry about the details.

Let CTS handle your trade show logistics so you can primarily focus on your exhibit and business at hand.


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