By far, the biggest complaint that I have received from Exhibitors is the invoice for their Material Handling (a.k.a. Drayage) charges. In today’s post, What the hell! Why is My Drayage Bill so High?, I am going to share with you the most common mistakes that I’ve seen exhibitors make when it comes to their event materials.
Before we get started, if you have questions about the differences between shipping and drayage, check out my recent article.
Preparation of your shipment(s) is key to getting started. You really need to devise a game plan for your booth and assess what materials will be needed. This will include your display booth and marketing materials as well as prizes and giveaways.
Are all of these items readily available at one location or at they at multiple locations? Depending on what weight and piece count is located at what facility, it is sometimes better to bring them all into one location and ship to the event from there.
You’ll need to do a cost assessment to see if that makes the most financial sense. For example, promotional products don’t always weigh that much. Is it most cost effective to send separate shipments or should you consolidate?
Loose Lot Shipments
This brings us to loose lot shipments. When using shipping companies such as FedEx or UPS, what may leave your office as ‘one’ shipment consisting of multiple boxes, doesn’t mean that they will be received as such. Sometimes they might make it all together, other times they may be split throughout a single day (i.e. morning and afternoon deliveries), and it’s very possible that they may deliver on separate days all together.
When this happens, each shipment will be invoiced as separate deliveries and are typically subjected to the standard 200lb. minimum charge. Another thing to keep in mind is that if they are received on overtime, they become subject to a 25 percent surcharge.
NOTE: When sending in multiple pieces for a single shipment, make sure to label them appropriately (i.e. 1 of 5, 2 of 5, etc.).
Special handling of your materials will run an additional 25 percent on top of the minimum charge. Is your shipment palletized or is it coming in as individual pieces where every one of them must be handled in order to get to your booth space?
Will your shipment require a forklift? Some General Service Contractors (GSC’s) will add another service line to your invoice for these services. These charges can vary greatly depending on the Contractor.
Are you sending your materials in to the Advance Warehouse? If so, pay close attention to the Advance Order Deadline and ship to ensure that your materials are received at that location ON OR BEFORE the published date. Most warehouses will be open to receive your shipments anywhere from 30 to 45 days prior to move in.
Show Site Shipments
Do you think that shipping to show site saves you a lot of money? Think again! Although the drayage rate is typically lower, you now run into having to control your shipment so that it meets the target date. This window is generally not open very long so you need to pay close attention to the dates and times published in the Exhibitor Service Manual.
Another thing to take into consideration is how much your shipping bill is going to run in order to meet the deadline to show site. Sending your materials via ground service does not guarantee that you materials will arrive within the specified time frame, and you may need to ship them Overnight or Second Day to ensure their delivery on time.
Shipments to the Host Hotel
A lot of exhibitors are under the impression that if they ship their materials to the Host Hotel that they will not incur drayage charges from the GSC. This may be true in some cases but more than not you will inevitably get charged twice…once from the Hotel and another from the GSC. Why? Well, most trade shows are set by Union Personnel, and that means that the Hotel can only bring your materials so far. They may make it to the front door of the exhibit hall but will then have to turn over the materials to the Union for final delivery.
By doing so, this allows the GSC to control everything that comes in and out of the trade show floor. When your freight isn’t in your booth space, who do you go frantically running to to find out where your stuff is? That’s right, the Exhibitor Service Desk which is manned by GSC personnel.
If for some reason you run into an issue with the timing of your shipment going in to the Advance Warehouse, pick up the phone and contact the GSC’s Customer Service Representative for the event. If you need more time, just ask! I’m not saying that everyone is going to give you a couple of extra days without incurring late fees (another 50 percent surcharge!), but I do know that I’ve worked with many exhibitors to extend the deadline and waive the late charges. You’ll never know unless you ask!
The bottom line is this…you need to take the time to put together a solid game plan when it comes to your materials. You’re spending a lot of money on your booth space already, and incurring multiple additional charges for your drayage will quickly increase your trade show invoice. Plan ahead and make sure to follow through!
I hope that you found this information helpful and that you can implement some of these changes immediately to keep your costs in line.
Have you encountered any other charges that I haven’t mentioned above? If so, I’d love to hear about them! Please comment below! 🙂