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How Advance Warehouse Can Save You Money And Time At Your Next Trade Show

Advance Warehouse trade show shippingYou may be surprised to discover that the ease and cost of your exhibit installation and dismantle depend in part on how and when you ship your materials to the trade show.  In most cases, you can either ship direct to the trade show floor to arrive on the day of your arrival, or you can ship days or even weeks in advance to a designated advance warehouse.  Understanding how each of these shipping solutions works is vital to a smooth trade show event.

Advance Warehousing Is Offered For A Reason

Convention or trade show sponsors don’t have to offer advance warehousing, but most of them do.  Why?  Because they’ve learned over the years that designating a specific warehouse area for delivery and storage of all booth displays and exhibits minimizes confusion and ensures that everyone exhibiting can quickly and easily get their materials onto the floor and set up without incident.

Although some people prefer to ship direct to the floor, this isn’t usually the best solution.  For one thing, you could run into problems if your shipment is one of fifty others arriving the same day. Imagine having to wait around at your designated booth location for hours because there are a dozen other delivery trucks ahead of the one holding your supplies.  You could wait a long time and still discover that your shipment isn’t complete, putting you in a tight spot that’s not easy to get around.

Be Kind To Your I & D Team

The I & D (Installation & Dismantle) teams waiting to help you assemble your trade show booth are in high demand on that first set-up day.  You don’t want to be the troublesome customer who has them sitting around waiting for hours because you “know the delivery will be here any time!” If you use advance warehousing, all of the materials you shipped ahead of time will be waiting at your booth location, ready to be assembled as soon as you and the I&D team arrives.

You’ll also be able to quickly check to see if all your components are present and in good working order.  If by some chance part of your display is missing, you’ll have more time to get the situation resolved than if your items are arriving late in the day.  You’ll have more time to resolve any minor glitches when you have advance warehousing.

Save Some Money With Advance Warehouse Shipments

We all have to stick to a budget when we’re putting together trade show exhibits or convention displays.  If you ship your booth materials to an advance warehouse, you can save a significant amount of money.  Shipping direct to the exhibit floor can cost three times as much as ground shipping because you’ll need to ship at the last minute for proper arrival.  On the other hand, paying only ground shipping rates can add valuable cash in your pocket that can be used more constructively elsewhere.

With so many positives to shipping your trade show materials to the advance warehouse, it’s a wonder anyone still chooses to spend the extra money and take a chance with delivery directly to the exhibition floor.

trade-show-marketing-idea-kitGet more planning and logistic tips with The Trade Show Marketing Idea Kit, 75 pages of checklists, worksheets, timelines, and articles. 

About the Author

Kristie Jones-Damalas is the Vice President of Sales and Marketing and a Partner of Skyline Event Services. Kristie’s goal is to help her clients get the most out of their trade show and event marketing. She believes that successful trade show and event marketing is innovative, interactive, inventive and challenging! Her passion is to help her clients with Cleveland trade show displays. For more information on trade show displays, trade show booths, and trade show exhibits in Cleveland, please visit

6 responses to “How Advance Warehouse Can Save You Money And Time At Your Next Trade Show

  1. Hi Kristie,

    Thank you for your post. However, I’d like to respectfully disagree with you in regards to a few points you bring up about shipping to the advance warehouse.

    Recently, I was looking at a material handling cost form for a large show in Orlando. The delivery direct to the show hall was a lower cwt for handling than going to the advance warehouse. While this might not be true for all shows, I have found it to be very common.

    Another reason exhibitors like to go direct to the show site is the reduced handling their exhibit experiences while in transit. Less handling = less damage & less chance for lost items. As yes, items get lost in the transfer from the warehouse to the show hall! I’ve seen in many cases that shipments are not stored in a warehouse but in trailers as well. We all know what happens when an item is lost. The puzzle is not complete! And there is a lot of scrambling and extra stress, time, and money spent.

    Many exhibitors choose to use a service like my company’s because their shipment(s) picks up directly at their facility (or display house) and delivers directly to the show hall. Thus, eliminating any chance of damage or lost items from the many common carrier transfers in route to or from the advance warehouse.

    They enjoy the fact that the price we quote is exactly what they are invoiced. Also, we do not charge waiting time. The drivers show up early, 6:00 – 7:00am, get in line at the marshalling yard, and wait their turn. They are usually unloaded by their targeted time. Our drivers are experienced in the workings of show site logistics and work very well with the drayage company’s procedures.

    In the grand scheme of things, going direct to the show hall can save cost, give less worry, and get your exhibit completely to the booth location. It’s common to have our driver call the I&D lead person upon arrival who will also oversee the delivery. In my opinion, when you’ve got so much expense/planning riding on the line, it is best to eliminate risk as much as you can.

    Best Regards,
    Bob Ryan

    1. I agree with Bob 100%. I have managed dozens of trade shows in the past decade and it has never been cheaper for me to ship to the advance warehouse. My shows include IMTS, PMTS, Westec, MD&M shows, etc.

  2. Bob, you might have a great shipping company there that does not charge for waiting time, most of the trade show freight carriers give you the first 2 or 3 hours free. On a few of the larger shows I have seen some trucks waiting in the marshaling yard for two days before it was their turn to unload my clients material. When the freight finally got delivered to their booth space my I&D team only had a few hours to set up before the show started. For the extra 10% or so decorators charge to use their advance warehouse I feel it is worth that for peace of mind alone. Also we shrink wrap all of our skids to both avoid missing pieces like you mentioned and also to take advantage of lower pricing for material handling since each piece is charged for individually.

    1. Hi Kristie,

      Thank you for your reply. Obviously waiting 2 days is a really big exception to the rule. I’ve never had that happen in my 22 years in the industry.

      If you’re exhibiting with a portable or smaller inline, pop up, or modular type of booth and it is skidded with shrink wrap I would find it more acceptable to go the advance warehouse. However, I would still go direct with anything custom or that has multiple piece counts. I can share with you many stories of missing items which required last minute rentals and/or overnight shipping.

      My experiences lean me to stay with the direct route.

      Thanks for posting the topic and the friendly, respectful debate!

      Best Regards,

  3. I second that motion, advance warehouse is there for a reason. The only way I would ship direct to the show would be if I just had a pop up and I could set it up myself. For larger projects I would rather have my installation team start building before the union coffee break and not after.

  4. I found advance warehouse material handling rates only marginally cheaper than direct to show.

    I found the biggest reason to avoid shipping to the warehouse is because, more often than not, decorators find ways to move in my items during overtime hours. That absolutely negates any other benefits going to the advance warehouse IMHO.

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