The dictionary defines dray (the root word in drayage) as a low cart without fixed sides, used for carrying heavy loads. In days gone by, the cart would be pulled by a “dray horse”. The larger word “drayage” is more associated with the cost to move heavy loads over a short distance.
Trade show drayage service can be divided into 5 parts:
- Unloading carriers and completing inbound receiving documents.
- Delivery of freight to the exhibitor’s booth from the receiving dock.
- Storage of empty crates and extra products on site or close by.
- Transfer of freight from the booth back to the receiving dock.
- Reloading carriers and completing outbound shipping documents.
Here are some great tips to make sure you are saving as much as you can on Drayage:
- Consolidate shipments to make the best use of the 200 pound minimum.
- Send 2 lb. FedEx’s or small shipments to your hotel and hand carry them into the show – again to avoid 200 pound minimums.
- Advanced drayage can save a lot of money in shipping costs when you can transship from one show to another.
- Work with a display house to consolidate your shipment and ship your freight. Their surcharge is typically less expensive than the additional cost for loose or special handling drayage. They also get deep discounts with shipping companies because of the volume of shipping they do.
- Avoid mixed loads. Separate loose items from crated items, by using separate Bill of Ladings. This way the general contractor will not charge your entire shipment with special handling of usually 30 percent more added to your total drayage bill. A loose carpet and pad can turn an entire crated shipment into special handling. OUCH!
- Direct Freight can save you money when you can schedule your freight to arrive on straight time. Advanced freight always comes in during the first move in day regardless of ST or OT.
- Use trucking companies nicknamed “padded vans” when possible because they do not charge waiting time for direct drayage shipments like air freight companies do.
- Look to your display house to help you lighten the cost of your exhibit program using fabrics and other techniques to reduce your shipping and drayage costs.
- Take photos of shipments and label all packages underneath the stretch wrap in case the stretch wrap is removed or torn. Identify shipments on bills of lading as 1 pallet of 8 boxes – not just one pallet.
Everyone who exhibits does not like drayage. Unfortunately, you just have to understand that it is there and you must pay it unless you can hand carry everything to your booth space. Just keep the mindset that it’s a given and work it into your budget.