How to Ship Trade Show Materials

One of the most important parts of planning to exhibit at a trade show is shipping your materials. Shipping trade show displays can be expensive and without proper planning you may encounter increased costs or even damage to your exhibit. So, how do you ship your trade show materials effectively? Crating and palletizing materials are a good start and make sure to use foam padding and bubble wrap and label everything. And with any purchase, always compare pricing across multiple shipping/drayage companies.

Step by step guide on shipping trade show materials:

  • Crate and palletize heavy materials:  Whatever parts of your display that can be packed into crates and boxes should be stacked neatly on pallets. Crating and palletizing trade show displays and materials will save you from shipping several items separately. You don’t want to overload one pallet or crate, but keeping your heaviest items together will help improve organization of your displays and might help you keep shipping costs down. Every loose piece you ship is an extra charge that is totally avoidable.
  • Insert foam padding or bubble wrap between boxes: When you are crating and palletizing trade show displays and materials, the best thing you can do is give them all extra protection. Using foam padding and bubble wrap in boxes and between crates will help preserve your materials during shipping.
  • Distinctively label boxes and palettes: When you pack a suitcase for a trip, you usually mark it with a discernable luggage tag or something that will help you pick it out from a crowd. Labeling your palette will help you do the same in this respect and individually labeling which crate or palette is carrying what display materials will help you keep track of what made it through shipping or if something did not.   
  • Don’t shop light items or expensive electronics: Anything that can be taken with you a plane or in a car can save you money on drayage. Determine if the weight of flying with it is cheaper than adding it to your shipping costs. If it will fit in a vehicle you are driving to a show, that’s also more idea. It’s also a better bet not to ship expensive electronics. If your booth depends on anything like LED screens and a lot of computer hardware, the risk of shipping it might be too great.
  • Compare shipping and drayage companies: Like any other travel or major expenditure, you should always check and compare rates from rival companies. Whether you choose FedEx, UPS or use a company that specializes in trade show drayage or go with whatever the show/venue recommends, comparing prices is always to your benefit.

Organize your paperwork: Being organized with paperwork for confirmation numbers, pickup time, unload/setup documents, your inventory sheet and a bill of lading as well as other important documents regarding the shipping of your displays will save you a ton of headaches. There is a lot of information to keep track of and missing one piece could throw plans and budgets off track in a hurry. Stay organized.