Trade Show Shipping Tip: Know Your Service

Tips for trade show shipping, know your show, know your freight

Trade Show Shipping Tip: Know Your Service

When shipping to a trade show, you do have options. Although the show may want you to believe you must use their contracted carrier, that’s not true. You can select the carrier of your choosing for shipping to the show and out of the show. (Learn about shipping out of a show here). You don’t need to become an expert in transportation, however understanding a few different types of freight shipping services can help you select the best option for shipping to a trade show.


What do I need to know?

There are a lot of different types of transportation companies out there. To help you know your service, let’s look at an overview of services for trade show shipping:


LTL: LTL stands for less than a full truckload, meaning your freight will not take up a whole truck. Your shipment will be consolidated in a truck with other shipments. With LTL service, your freight will be routed on a LTL network, passing through distribution centers and reconsolidated along the way. While often the most economical way to ship, your freight could be transferred between warehouses and trucks multiple times, increasing the risk of damage. Also, you are usually given a range of dates your freight may deliver (2-4 days, 4-6 days, ect…) instead of an exact day. Many LTL carriers will not delivery directly to a show site unless they offer a specific trade show service. LTL carriers may deliver to an advanced warehouse.


FT: FT stands for full truckload, meaning your freight will fill up an entire 53’ trailer. After pickup, your freight will stay on the same truck all the way to the show site or advanced warehouse. If you are shipping a FT directly to a show, your truck will need to check in at the show’s marshalling yard. Here the truck will wait in line to be unload. This time, known as detention, can last for hours. You will often have to pay per hour for this time in addition to your shipping cost, so talk with your carrier to learn their policy on detention.


Air: If you do not need a FT, but still want a more dedicated service than LTL, air is another option. Air freight rides on planes, or trucks, between airports where it is picked up for the final delivery. Since your freight is then local, it is much easier to handle the unique delivery requirements of a trade show. For example, delivering or checking in at a specific date and time. Of course, air can also come in handy if you get in a time crunch and need something expedited. Your air transportation company will handle the entire process from pickup to delivery, so you do not have to worry about coordinating with local delivery or airlines. Air will usually cost more than LTL, but often provides you with a higher level of service with specific delivery times and less warehouse transfers.


Parcel: Most parcel carriers offer show services that will match one of the modes above. Expect to pay a per-piece fee to the show for using them. They skip the marshalling yard and deliver freight through the parcel doors, which is why there is an extra fee. Your material handling agreement will list the fees.


With an understanding of shipping services for a show, you’ll be able to know what to expect from your carrier. Also, don’t forget to Know Your Show, and Know Your Freight!

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