What is Drayage Service and What are Your Options?

I really want to help everyone understand the role of drayage when it comes to the outcome of the general contractor’s commitment to the show. Remember, in earlier episodes, I talked about the fact that most general contractor services to the association are contractually provided for free, or close to it, in order to win the right to be the official show contractor.

After the award, most general contractors rely on exhibitor services, the biggest of these being drayage, to recoup the cost of the “freebies” provided to the Association. The general contractor also provides a lot of overhead services that you may not notice or basically take for granted.

They provide the exhibitor manual, an entire infrastructure of information and accounting services before during and after the show, all the association needs like aisle carpet and aisle signs, all the decorating equipment inventory for booth dividers and registration stuff, all the rental equipment inventory and maintenance, as well as all material handling equipment and machinery. These services are expended upfront with the hope of recouping costs through exhibitor services.

Exhibitor services include any rentals such as carpet and furniture and any labor, sign hanging and, of course, drayage. The most consistent and exclusive of these services is drayage. Other companies can provide their own carpet, furniture and labor. Of course, they will pay a drayage fee to bring these items in with their shipments.

So the only things that are exclusive to the General Contractor are drayage, possibly sign hanging (unless the exhibit facility retains control of that service) and yes, now,  sometimes cleaning. Cleaning (or vacuuming) is better left for another discussion as it is a topic all its own.

Your tip of the week is:

1.  Look at the general contractor as your partner, not your enemy. They risk a lot upfront in order to (hopefully) achieve a profitable outcome. See what they provide in the way of exhibit rentals, furniture rentals, and labor that may work to your advantage. 

 2.  Compare the cost of rentals when bringing your own carpet, furniture, and exhibits to a show. Many companies use general contractor services to complement their booth needs when shipping and drayage costs outweigh rental costs.

 3There are many variables in drayage including union or non-union influences, show hours, who the contractor is, whether the contractor is providing the service directly or subbing the service to a local company and the location of the event. So each show needs to be looked at independently. Simply stated drayage is a matter of Association choices influenced by the economic structure of the chosen location.

 4. Finally, I would throw it out there that exhibitors should voice any concerns about unusual fees or changes to drayage costs to the Association. The Association walks a tightrope between the cost of services that they receive from the contractor and the ability to get exhibitors to participate in their shows.

 The Association can influence how the general contractor will charge for services during the RFP stage of a negotiation. Flat fees and no overtime charges are two examples.

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.