Today marks the start of our new series on the Exhibitor Manual. The general contractor for each show is usually the company that produces and distributes the manual. Most manuals are now online and have a username and password issued to you after you purchase your booth space. Once you have access to the manual you should start by identifying all deadlines and rates.
First stop: Material Handling Rates and Form. This refers to how you have your freight delivered to the facility and the rates that go along with it.
Fun Fact: The manual’s rules, restrictions and pricing are more dependent upon the city you are exhibiting in rather than the show itself.
Let’s start with Advanced Freight – The show contractor will provide free storage of your crated shipment at their holding facility between certain dates. It is important that you know these deadline dates as a penalty will be imposed if your shipment arrives too early or too late. Penalties are usually 25 to 30% added to the base drayage rate.
Next is Direct Freight – The starting date and time for direct shipments to the showsite usually coincides with the start of the exhibitor installation schedule. The end of this window, obviously, is when the show opens. Shipping early will result in a penalty like advanced freight or the freight being refused by the facility because the show contractor is not even there to receive it.
Another category that is seen less often is Target Freight – This is when your direct shipment is targeted to be received at a very specific time, determined by either the location or the size of your booth space. Target Freight deadlines usually are limited to larger shows that require significant traffic control. They can also be used for exhibit spaces that need to be “last in and first out” to maintain access to the hall for drayage. I have also seen target freight schedules established for portions of an exhibit hall when other trade shows need the space and have overlapping move-in or move-out schedules by the facility. If your shipment is “off target” then you will be assessed – you guessed it – a financial penalty.
So how do you know when it is better to ship Advanced or Direct? Here at Exhibit Edge we will look at each situation independently. We prefer not to ship advanced as it is usually a higher cost and requires more frequent handling of the freight, increasing risk of damage. If we need to go advanced then we are doing it to get the guaranteed earliest starting time. Advanced freight is also good when trans-shipping. It saves a lot in shipping costs if we can ship directly from one show to another making use of the advanced freight free storage window.
Size of shipment and waiting time are also factors to consider. Air freight carriers used for smaller shipments will charge waiting time, which is common with direct freight. If the shipment is large enough to be carried by a specialized tractor trailer company, or “padded van service,” Direct Freight may be a better option as they do not charge waiting time.
The next thing to consider is the minimum drayage rate – Read carefully about minimum rates as shipping small packages to the showsite can cost you dearly if there is a 200 lb. drayage minimum per shipment. Some general contractors do offer a “small package rate” for single packages that are under a certain weight. The cost is generally $25 to $35 per package, which may be worth it, but you may also consider shipping to your hotel room and hand carrying them to the show instead.
The last thing to consider are overtime drayage rates – If your freight has the potential to move in or out on overtime understand that each time is a separate surcharge; for Advanced Freight, that means when it moves onto the show floor – not when it is received at the warehouse. So if it moves in on overtime and out on overtime you have to take the published overtime surcharge and add it to the base rate twice. Exhibit Edge will often dismantle on overtime the night the show closes to better position our shipment for straight time loading the next morning.
Next week we will look at other General contractor services like carpeting, furniture and labor.