Trade Show Insights: Advance Warehouse

Benefits and Drawbacks of Shipping to an Advance Warehouse

If you have ever had to coordinate logistics for a trade show, maybe as an exhibitor or an event manager, you know there are two options for shipping your display and marking material to a show. The first option is to ship your freight directly to the show site, usually having it arrive the same day the show starts or a day earlier. The second option is to ship your show freight to an advance warehouse, which will hold your it until it needs to be at the show. In this article, we will discuss more about what an advance warehouse is, benefits and drawbacks of using the advance warehouse, and certain situations when it might be useful.

First let’s talk about what an advance warehouse is. An advance warehouse is a storage location specifically used to hold freight going into a trade show. The reason it is called advance, is because the warehouse allows freight to arrive weeks before the show starts. Your freight will then sit in storage until it needs to be on the show floor. When that time comes, the people running the advance warehouse will put back on a truck and transfer it from the advance warehouse to the convention center. Typically, the advance warehouse will not be the same location as the show, and will not be operated by the show decorator (ex Freeman, GES..) but will be managed by a contracted LTL company and located at their facility.

3 Benefits 

1. Skipping the Marshalling Yard:The marshalling yard is a queuing system used for trucks delivery freight to a show. Due to the narrow time window of delivering direct to a show, a lot of trucks arrive at the same time. This means your freight could sit for hours, perhaps days, on a truck before being off-loaded.If your freight goes into the advance warehouse, it will move into the convention center before the freight coming in directly. This not only allows you to skip the marshalling yard but adds the benefit of knowing when your freight will be at the show if you need to coordinate with installers.

2. Wider Delivery Window:The advance warehouse can receive trade show freight weeks ahead of the event. Thus, providing a more relaxed delivery window compared to that of direct to show. You may have 2-3 weeks to deliver to the advance warehouse as opposed to a specific day and time of shipping direct to show. Shipping to an advance warehouse also gives you more transportation options, since many standard transportation carriers will not deliver direct to a show but will delivery to an advance warehouse.

3. Peace of Mind:Shipping to an advance warehouse is kind of like showing up early at the airport for a flight. Once you get through security, your part is finished and you can relax while you wait for your flight. This is much less stressful than showing up with just enough time to make it through the airport, knowing one mistake or long line could mean missing your flight. When shipping to the advance warehouse, the show decorator is now responsible to get your freight there on time and damage free.


3 Drawbacks

1. Additional Material Handling Costs: Due to the extra transfers of your freight between warehouses, shipping to the advance warehouse usually costs around 20-30% more on average vs shipping direct to show.

2. Not all Freight is Allowed: Due to the increase movement between warehouses, only things that can safely and easily be moved by a forklift are usually allowed into the advance warehouse (think skids, crates, road cases, ect…)

3. Increase Risk of Damage: Every time your freight is moved, your chances of damage increases. When using the advance warehouse, your freight will be handled by a forklift more times than if you ship direct to show. Also, your freight may be moved into an empty trailer that is parked outside of the warehouse. With your freight outside, it furthers increases the risk of weather or other kinds of damage. Furthermore, since the warehouse is not run by the show decorator, there will be non-trade show personnel handling your freight.

Other Reasons to Utilize the Advance Warehouse:

If you have any hanging signs/banners or carpeting that need to go to the show, it’s a good idea to use the advance warehouse, since those types of materials usually need to be set up before anything else can be done.

If your shipment is under 1,000 lbs, the cost of utilizing the advance warehouse may be similar to the cost of shipping direct to show as the material handling charges may be similar to the extra cost of specialized transportation directly to the show.