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12 Logistics Tips To Ensure A Smoother Trade Show

tradeshow logisticsSo much planning, time, and effort goes into getting ready for a trade show.  You think about design, budget, who will staff the booth, and what kind of leads you may get.  But, sometimes, a very important part of exhibiting can be overlooked:  What do you do if you run into shipping issues? It would be pretty hard to exhibit without your trade show booth present at the show.  To avoid such disaster, follow these 12 logistics tips to ensure a smoother trade show:

  1. Pre-plan. Get shipping estimates from 3 logistics companies and compare the prices.  If you are shipping to multiple shows a year, you will also want to get references from companies you trust who ship. Speak to your logistics company and work out the best price you can get.  The more notice you can give them, the better.
  2. Ship to advanced warehouse.  If you have this option, take it. You can avoid booth delays and move in target delays for your booth by doing so.  This is especially important if you have a 10×10 or larger modular booth or accessories.
  3. Advise your broker.  If you are shipping across a border let your broker know.  Send all required documents ahead of time so they are aware your shipment is coming to avoid border delay.
  4. Paperwork.  Fill in all necessary paperwork ahead of time and be sure a copy goes with the logistics driver upon pick up.  If you are shipping monitors and/or electronics of any kind, be reminded there are special forms for this.  If you need assistance, avoid problems from the start and contact your broker.
  5. Labels.  It is important to label all shipment cases and boxes clearly with your company name,  show name, and booth number to ensure safe arrival to your booth.  Be sure to have a phone number on the cases or boxes in case of loss or destination mix up.
  6. Avoid last minute shipments.  When possible, do your best to stay away from this pitfall.  This is costly and you risk the booth not showing up on time.
  7. Know what’s allowed to ship.  Do not ship perishable items! Make sure whatever you’re sending is cleared to be put in a box and sent around the world.
  8. Call ahead.  The day prior to shipment pick up, call to confirm the schedule is on time.  If it’s not, you still have time to use a back up plan.  Don’t wait until you’re sitting at the show empty handed.
  9. Tracking.  Always get the shipment tracking number from your shipper and track daily to see shipment progress and ensure timely arrival.
  10. Pre-Arrange pick up.  Have your trade show exhibit ready and labeled with the return destination.  Leave one copy of shipping paperwork at the booth, and hand the other one in to the show.
  11. Track return shipment.  Be sure to confirm shipment pick up to avoid ‘Forced Freight.’  This can go unnoticed for days if shipment isn’t being tracked and can be very costly.  If  shipment is held, each day a new charge is accumulated.
  12. Return shipment. Check all contents upon return.  If anything is damaged or missing you must deal with it immediately.  When time elapses, there is less chance of repairing or finding the missing shipment.

These tips may have opened your eyes to new precautions to take when shipping, or might have reminded you of a very bad day you once had!  With this arsenal of logistics tips, you will have much smoother shipping and exhibiting at your future trade shows!

What's Working In ExhibitingBeing an expert at logistics and shipping will ensure your trade show booth gets where it needs to go.  To find out what else you should have down pat before you get to the show, read the What’s Working In Exhibiting guidebook.  This 32-page white paper reveals what exhibitors are doing in 7 key areas to create successful trade shows.  Click here to request your free copy. 
About the Author

Since 2006, Sandra Kennedy has been an energetic and customer-focused Exhibit Consultant at Skyline Exhibits Greater Toronto Area. Sandra assists her Toronto trade show displays clients to generate the best trade show ROI with design vision, marketing strategies, and deep industry knowledge. She and the team in Mississauga provide design, project management, asset management and logistical support to help exhibitors of all sizes bring their brand to the forefront of their market.

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