How to Control Drayage Costs through Reductions and Alternatives

So we have talked about drayage, what it is, how it is charged, and how it relates to the Association, the general contractor, and the exhibitor. When I was looking for a way to complete this series I realized that there is so much more information to give you in drayage terminology, more ways to control drayage costs, and even influence future ways to charge for drayage. So, let’s continue to look at ways of controlling drayage costs:

1. You can definitely send less literature and giveaways. Think about how you have to be careful that your airport luggage is not overweight. It’s not easy with 50 pound maximums for a week on the road.  Attendees have the same concerns and avoid the extra weight. Train your staff to identify customer needs and have good follow-up tools for them to use.  But, that is a different subject.

2. Don’t keep using the same heavy exhibit just because you can’t afford a new one. Now, I would suggest that you can’t afford not to do a new one since drayage costs keep rising to keep up with declining show weights. This process has accelerated with the use of fabrics. More and more general contractors are realizing show drayage weight reductions and, in turn, keep raising the cost of drayage.

3. Look into what I call a “hybrid exhibit.” They combine good strong lockable storage counters with light weight fabrics for back walls, overhead signs and large graphics. A good mix of exhibitory will balance better transportation and drayage costs with a little more on site labor as these fabric exhibits tend to require more setup time.  A full service display house, like Exhibit Edge, can show you lots of options. And remember that they are well equipped to blend light weight manufacturer components with custom elements to create these unique hybrid exhibits.

4. General Contractor rentals can be an exhibit of choice as they include all shipping, drayage, and labor costs in the rental price. There are shows where this can be an obvious cost saver. You can still use your overhead sign, and other custom elements to compliment these rentals.

5. Fabrics – Fabrics – Fabrics. There is so much being done with fabrics that you should be considering them as part of your exhibit program for small exhibits – but even more as you move to larger sizes.

6. Another option is to share space in another company’s exhibit and share expenses proportionately.  This is called a co-op arrangement. This is especially good when you are trying out a new show. A flat fee is agreed upon which corresponds with the amount of space provided.

7. This is my favorite way of reducing transportation and drayage. Work with a local “destination management firm.”  They provide props and structures that create theme exhibits. This works great in remote locations such as Hawaii. We have coordinated Tiki bars, military outposts, photo booths, and other themes that require little shipping or drayage.

I guess the overall message here is to “think outside the box” and look at your show schedule as a total package. Each show is different and there are lots of ways to reduce costs that go well beyond just doing “less with less.”

Next week, I am really going to stretch by talking about future ways that general contractors could charge for drayage and how you can influence their ideas.

As always, please respond with your questions or comments and let others know about EXHIBITOR LOUNGE.COM.

We will see you next week. Until then,  I am your host Michael Gray telling you to RELAX in the Exhibitor Lounge.