Trade Show Exhibit Marketing Tips and Advice

What came first…the drayage or the shipping?

Posted on Tue, Aug 19, 2014

So, what came first…the drayage or the shipping? It has been my experience in the Trade Show Industry that one of the most confusing services for exhibitors revolves around the handling of your materials. Let me start by explaining the difference between the two. Drayage (a.k.a. Material Handling Services) is the unloading of your exhibit materials at the dock, storage for up to 30+ days in advance of the show at an off-site warehouse, the transport of your materials to show site, the delivery of your materials to your exhibit space, the handling of your empty containers to and from storage, and removal of the materials from your booth to the dock for reloading onto an outbound carrierWith that said, the obvious answer would be that shipping gets the ball rolling, right? After all, you need to ship your materials first in order for the drayage services to kick in.

  • Shipping starts at Point A (i.e. your office, warehouse, display house, etc.). Shipping fees start here.
  • Then it’s transported to Point B (the advance warehouse or directly to show site). This is where drayage fees begin.
  • You will eventually return to Point A after the close of the event. Outbound shipping fees start here.

You will always incur two separate fees: one for shipping (to and from) and one for drayage (round trip). These are two totally different services and charges vary between the two. You may already have an in-house carrier that you have negotiated rates with and use on a regular basis. Most GSC’s (General Service Contractors) utilize a preferred carrier and can extend discounts to you for using their services. Obtaining an estimate to include in your event budget will assist you in allocating costs for the various services that you may need.

The following table is an example of how shipments are invoiced for drayage services:

Drayage charges can quickly escalate above what you budgeted for if you  don’t pay attention to how your materials are being sent. Just because your items leave your location in one piece doesn’t mean that they arrive that way. As the above illustration shows, shipment #1 left a location in ten pieces; however, they didn’t all arrive on the same day. Each individual shipment received is invoiced separately and this is where charges can really start to add up.

There can be a lot of “hidden charges” located within the fine print of these order forms. The drayage rate is typically published as a S/T fee; however, if the move-in/out occurs on O/T, you can expect a 25% surcharge for each occurrence   I decided years ago to assist exhibitors with this and make it easier: I published an all-inclusive rate to eliminate the guesswork and the slew of post-show  inquiries once they received their final invoice.

How can you avoid “surprise” line items for drayage fees from happening in the future?  Consolidate! I understand the need to sometimes send a second (or even third) shipment for one event. For example, you might have your promotional items and/or printed marketing materials coming from different locations. What I suggest that you do is assess everything ahead of time to see what is going to be most cost-effective.

Questions to ask yourself:

  1.  Are all of my materials shipping from a single location?
  2.  What is the advance order deadline for materials shipping to the advance warehouse?
  3.  What is the target date/time for items shipping directly to show site?
  4.  How many pieces/pallets do I have?
  5.  Your shipping charges will be based on weight or the dimensional weight, whichever is greater.
  6.  Do I have materials coming in from somewhere else (i.e. promo products, printed materials, etc.)?
  7.  Promotional items can be tricky and are often difficult to locate. I have witnessed countless times where the materials are often improperly labeled; therefore, making it difficult to deliver to the correct booth space. I suggest sending your provider a copy of the Advance Warehouse Shipping Label located within the Exhibitor Service Kit and have everything clearly marked for the exhibiting Company Name (not an individual) and your booth number.
  8. When is everything going to be ready for shipping?
  9. This will determine what destination you are shipping to (advance warehouse or show site) and what kind of service your materials need to be sent by (ground, 2nd day, overnight).
  10. Does the GSC offer a discount for utilizing their preferred carrier?
  11. What is the best shipping option?
  12. In my opinion, your best shipping option is to send your materials via ground and go directly to the advance warehouse. Your target ship date should be at least one week prior to the advance order cut-off date (unless shipping internationally, which requires additional time and clearance through Customs). If you have planned ahead of time and can consolidate all of your materials at your office, you can collectively send all of your materials as a whole. Some people think it’s best to ship directly to show site. Keep in mind that with this shipping service, the arrival time needs to happen within a specific window and that will affect the shipping rate.

Guest Blogger: Melissa Michel of The M Factor Inc. - based in Orlando, Florida, they offer comprehensive Trade Show and Event Management services nationwide.

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Topics: events in chicago, managing your trade show, show services, trade show booth planning, trade show services

Free Trade Show Exhibit Resource Guides Now Online

Posted on Thu, Aug 14, 2014

CHICAGO – August 13, 2014 – The Tradeshow Network Marketing Group has published four new resource guides on custom, rental, modular and portable exhibits for trade show managers and event planners, available for free download at Each 20-page guide features examples of the latest trade show display designs in different sizes and configurations, along with budget guidelines, design considerations, accessories, exhibit terminology, planning tips, marketing, and show services.TRADE SHOW EXHIBIT DESIGNS

“Trade show and marketing managers face a huge array of choices when it comes to display designs, options and costs, which is why we developed resource guides to provide more information on four different types of exhibits with budget guidelines for each,” explains Chris Roberts, president of The Tradeshow Network Marketing Group. “Our goal is to help our clients identify the best, most cost-effective trade show solution for their business objectives, marketing goals, and trade show schedule.”

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Topics: modular trade show booth, custom island rentals, booth design, custom displays, custom 10x20 displays, 20 x 20 rental design

Finding the right mentor for your trade show marketing program

Posted on Tue, Aug 12, 2014

Let’s say you are getting ready to set up your first tradeshow booth or you are trying to figure how to close more sales. Then you may want to find a mentor, because they will be able to guide you in the right direction. Here are a few ways mentors can help you achieve greater success:

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Must have promotional products for your trade show event

Posted on Thu, Aug 07, 2014

Abundant sunshine, ideal temperatures and ample opportunities to play outside - it's hard to deny that summer is one of the greatest times of the year. While individuals take advantage of this season by going on vacations or playing sports in the park, companies can do the same by hosting a variety of outdoor celebrations for their employees or giving away some summer fun promotionals in their trade show booth.

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Topics: Trade Show Budget

Ease your way through international borders

Posted on Mon, Aug 04, 2014

As the old saying goes, nothing is free. While the lure of international business is strong and the opportunities may seem endless, any company that hopes to tap into the potential of international business needs to be prepared. One way of making things a bit easier is with the use of an ATA Carnet.

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Topics: managing your trade show, trade show business, custom trade show booths, Trade Show Budget

Table Top Digital Signage in Your Trade Show Booth!

Posted on Thu, Jul 31, 2014

When exhibiting, any successful trade show booth captures the attention of the attendee so the exhibitor can educate them about their product, service, or business.  Many trade show booths use pop up displays, retractable banner stands and backdrops for their booth.  A new product that has recently been introduced for trade show booths is a 22” table top digital kiosk.  Fascinating tradeshow attendees has never been easier than with this new light weight, portable display.  Easily display animated, graphic and video content media on a 1080P HD quality screen.  Incorporate live weather and traffic updates, social media and RSS website feeds, track analytics, and more. Having one at your booth will draw attention to your products so you can focus on creating new business.  The ease of use and transport of this attractive digital mini Kiosk combined with the vast number of capabilities will make your next trade show a huge success! 

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Why Hire a Copywriter for Trade Show Marketing Needs?

Posted on Thu, Jul 31, 2014

A graphic designer recently told me that her clients are often reluctant to hire a freelance content writer for their website.  ”Most of the time, my customers write their own web content,” she said.  I was taken aback, but certainly understood what she meant.  Few clients have the graphic design chops to create their own website, but since everyone “writes”, many business folks conclude that they can write copy for their own website.  And, from the number of poorly written websites out there, it seems this is exactly what is happening.

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Topics: tradeshow marketing, generating leads at trade shows, marketing at trade shows, trade show advice, marketing messages

SII Soars With Trade Show Marketing Program

Posted on Wed, Jul 30, 2014

This work demonstrates how creating a trade show marketing strategy and integrating branding throughout the collateral materials can build a new brand image and achieve results for any client.

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Topics: chicago trade show services, custom rental exhibits, Trade Show Marketing Tips, exhibit designs, 20 x 20 rental design

Making The Most of Your Used Trade Show Booth: Sell, Trade or Donate.

Posted on Thu, Jul 24, 2014

If you have a trade show display that’s been sitting in inventory for a while or you’re planning a brand makeover that requires a brand new exhibit, consider your options for recouping part of your investment.  If your exhibit isn’t too worn to refurbish or too heavy for shipping, consider selling your booth or trading it in for a new exhibit.  If it’s beyond its usefulness in an exhibit setting, you may find a local charity that would be happy to receive it as a donation and repurpose it.  Following are a few tips gleaned from our experience in the trade show exhibit business.

Sell your booth to a local buyer.

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Topics: used booths

"Countdown to Trade Show Success," a FREE webinar

Posted on Tue, Jul 22, 2014

We've teamed up with Classic Exhibits to host "Countdown to Trade Show Success," a FREE webinar with trade show marketing expert Marlys Arnold on August 7. Marlys will share simple steps you can take to significantly increase your exhibiting investment and help guarantee success. Reserve your free seat by clicking on this link:

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Topics: chicago trade show services, planning for a trade show, trade show advice, effective trade show business

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