Trade Show Insights: How to Avoid Forced Freight

How to Avoid Forced Freight when Shipping Out of Your Next Trade Show


What does Forced Freight mean?

Let’s start with what forced freight is. Forced freight occurs when after the show, you repack your booth and materials, the show decorator takes it back to the shipping docks, but no one comes to pick up your freight. The trade show decorator will then take control of your freight and use their contracted carrier to ship it to either the advance warehouse or attempt to ship it to the address on the material handling agreement.

Why is Forced Freight a bad thing?

First of all, you lose control of your freight. It may even take you a few days to locate exactly where it is. Secondly, you will be charged a fee from the decorator (GES, Freeman, ect..), and be charged a premium for the shipping services by the show carrier to take your freight. If it has ever happened to you, then you know it is something to be avoided.

How does this happen?

There are different reasons this can happen. You may have just forgotten to book a carrier to pick up out of the show. Or you did book a carrier, but they did not make it to the marshalling yard before the cut-off time. (More on what a marshalling yard is here) If they are not there when they are supposed to be, there is a good chance your freight will be forced. Or maybe you booked a carrier to get your freight, but the show handler “mistakenly” forces your freight onto their carrier.

Tips to Avoid Forced Freight

1. Chose the right partner. The most important thing to do when scheduling your outbound shipping is to use a carrier that has a history of successfully shipping in/out of shows. Trade shows have specific rules and procedures for getting trucks in/out, so you want to make sure your carrier knows what to do.

2. Clearly fill out your material handling agreement (MHA). Make sure you list the name of your carrier, as well as a contact person and phone number. Keep a copy of your MHA in case you need to prove that you did let the show know you had someone coming in.

3. Uniquely label your stuff. Use large logo stickers, or spray paint your crates/cases, so they won’t easily be mistaken to belong to someone else. There are a lot of moving parts and pieces happening at the end of a show, and a lot of freight, so standing out can help cut down on errors.