What you need to know about shipping your trade show exhibit

March 9, 2018

By: Heather Zabicki

Important Information!

When planning to ship your trade show exhibit, there are many variables to consider.  Trade show shipping can be tricky, but the team at Embarq Creative strives to make the best possible decisions when it comes to shipping exhibits to and from each trade show.

Most people think their shipment is insured by the carrier, should something happen to – this is not usually the case.  Shipping companies will typically only pay $0.30 – $0.60 per pound for your exhibit.  For example, if your exhibit cost $20k and weighs 3000 pounds, you might only receive $900-$1800 for your exhibit…YIKES!  Insuring your exhibit can help alleviate worrying about a damaged or lost exhibit.


Deciding on a Carrier

Trade show shipments are not your typical shipments.  Make sure to ask the carrier if they specialize in trade show shipping.  The carrier’s business should be at a minimum, 50% trade show business.  Make sure you ask for references and check them!  You want to make sure your carrier is a proven expert in the trade show industry.  Navigating the marshalling yard can be tricky and expensive.  You want to be sure the company hired to haul your exhibit understands the trade show complexities.


Insurance Coverage

Clients should provide their own liability insurance covering all of their materials.  You should review your business liability policy to ensure that all of your exhibit assets are covered while being stored in a warehouse, in transit to and from shows, and on the show floor.



Once you have committed to a show, you will receive an exhibitor’s manual.  Look for the exhibitor checklist and be aware of deadlines to avoid penalties. Make sure your shipping carrier meets the check-in deadline. Check on the show’s install times.  You may have a targeted date or you may need additional time to set up your exhibit.


Material handling/Drayage

Drayage is the movement of exhibit material to and from a trade show booth space.  The general contractor or show decorator is also responsible for taking the empty containers off the show floor when you are done setting up your exhibit and at the end of each show.  In general, material handling or drayage, can be a large cost of your trade show budget.  Most trade shows have a 200 lb minimum for each delivery.  You can reduce the costs by shipping smaller or lighter boxes on a pallet.  (Make sure to pack extra shrink wrap for the return shipping!)


Benefits of Shipping to An Advance Warehouse

Often, there are not many days available to set-up an exhibit at a show.  Usually, when shipping to an advance warehouse, your exhibit material will arrive to your booth space quicker then shipping it directly to show.

An advance warehouse allows for advance shipping up to 30 days prior to the opening of a show – that means free storage!

Peace of mind – knowing that your shipment has arrived on time and prior to the show installation period is a great feeling.  There is no worrying about missing a targeted time or your shipment arriving to the show floor late!


When the Show Ends

During the show, the show’s decorator will come around to each booth space to hand out Material Handling Agreement forms.  These forms will be asking who your carrier is for return shipping as well as who to bill.  Once your exhibit material is packed back up for return shipping, you will take the filled in form to the show decorator’s desk.  At that time, you should advise your shipping carrier that your exhibit is ready for pick up.

At Embarq Creative, we continually keep our clients at top of mind.  We are in constant contact with our preferred shipping carriers to make sure we can get your exhibit to the show in a timely and effective manner.  We work directly with trade show carriers because we know the importance of your exhibit showing up and looking its best on the show floor.

Contact us for more information 610-454-9300 or info@embarqcreative.com