Tradeshow Week did a survey not too long ago where exhibit mangers listed material handling as the most inflated trade show cost. Material Handling – also called ‘Drayage’ is by far one of the most hidden and unexpectedly large costs associated with tradeshows. Every exhibitor with a couple years of show experience under their belt has a horror story about frightening post-show handling charges from the show contractor.
Here are the basics of Drayage and how it all works.
What is Drayage and/or Material Handling?
Drayage is the service of handling freight shipments for a trade show. This service includes the following elements:
- Receive shipment – unload, sort, inspect for damage, complete carriers documentation, create receiving report.
- Warehouse and storage – tag freight, and inventory. Store until show Move-in.
- Deliver to booth – load freight from warehouse, deliver to show site, place in booth.
- Empty Containers – Store empty containers during show times.
- Return Containers – redeliver empty containers to booth after show closes.
- Load Freight – Move freight from empty booth space, load shipment on exhibitors designated carrier, complete carriers documentation.
Why do I need to use this service?
Convention centers and hotels do not have facilities, equipment, and manpower to receive and store exhibit freight. Additionally these facilities have timely move in and move out schedules relating to the multiple events that occupy the same facility. Large shows are like entire cities that are setup in days and taken down in less. That amount of structure takes a ton of logistics, even more labor and a lot f skilled workers with forklifts. To ensure a smooth and effective flow of freight the Show Management hires a material handling contractor to coordinate, manage, and receive shipments relating to the show.
Why should I ship in advance?
In most cases, shipping to the Advance Warehouse is slightly more expensive than shipping direct to show site simply because you are paying for offsite storage. What benefits are you paying for by shipping advance?
- Weather can always be a problem no matter what time of year you are shipping freight. Many times a snow or ice storm can strand shipments for days. Getting your shipment to the advance warehouse early ensures your booth and materials are waiting for you at show site and that surprise hurricane didn’t cost you thousands of extra freight dollars.
- Sending your freight direct to show site can open up a logistical nightmare to your setup schedule. Your freight arrives during the accepted delivery time, but it has to wait in line behind 40 other freight trucks for a spot at the loading dock. This long wait can push the actual delivery time out hours where you are then paying for the truck drivers extra time, possibly pushing your shipment into overtime handling rates with the show contractor and maybe even delaying your exhibit installation labor into overtime as well depending on your show setup schedule. Every small delay effects every piece of your exhibit puzzle – and every delay costs you money, I promise.
How am I charged for this service?
Drayage is charged by the weight of your inbound shipment. Exhibitors are charged for each cwt. or 100 lbs of their inbound shipment. All shipments are rounded up to the next 100 lbs, e.g. (366 lbs is 400 lbs or 4 cwt.) and often have a 200lb Minimum. Charges per hundred pounds vary across the US based on local conditions including but not limited to these factors: prevailing union wages, move-in/move-out times, and exhibit facility access.
Material Handling fees cover not only the incoming handling of your shipment, but also the logistics to get it on the truck to ship it back to you as well. When your booth is all packed back up in its crates and pallets, they bring it to the loading dock and connect your freight company with your shipment, load it up and out for you. And no, they do not give you a credit if for not using outbound service.