Monthly Archives: January 2015

Getting to (y)our Show: Shipping to the Show

Now that I know the date we’re shipping out of Exhibitor, I’m working on getting the display and our staff TO Las Vegas.

Our display will be a custom linear 20-foot, with seating. Seating is bulky to ship, but it’s a critical part of our design so we are not renting at the show site. This means we’re shipping our display in a 50x50x100″ crate, thus managing the freight cost is paramount.

I start by looking at the move-in dates. Look for the move-in date for YOUR SPECIFIC footprint number, especially in a very large show such as IMTS. Large shows often schedule move-in dates by footprint number to allow the riggers and set-up staff to build from the rear of the hall. Don’t assume your hardware will move in on the first day of the show!

Once I’m sure of the move-in date, I check the cost of direct-to-venue freight vs. ship-to-warehouse freight. There’s some savings to be had here if you look carefully, but there are some things to be wary of:

1. Will your delivery truck have to wait for an unloading slot? If so, there’s a good chance you will be charged wait time by the freight carrier

2. The ship-to-warehouse trucks ALWAYS have dock priority over the direct-to-show trucks. Especially in a smaller venue such as the Hynes Convention Center in Boston, your truck WILL be bumped from the dock until the warehouse pre-shipment trucks are unloaded.

3. Be cautious, particularly in winter time. Weather has a direct affect on how a truck moves, and the direct-to-show dock will accept your freight only in a very specific day and time window. If your truck is delayed and misses the window, you’re either going to pay a lot of money for a special unloading, or you may be standing in your spot with no exhibit! We’ve had this happen.

4. On the positive side, if you ship direct-to-show-dock, very often your crates will be the last moved onto the show floor. This means they are last OFF the show floor into storage, and thus generally are the FIRST to come out!

This year, we want to ship to the warehouse. It’s slightly more expensive than shipping direct, but our airline schedule is such that we want to get off the plane and go directly to the show hall to set up. It’s important that the crates be on the floor when we arrive. Also, it’s winter and we are shipping from New Hampshire to Las Vegas. A lot can happen in 2800 miles.

Take a look at the first and last dates that the warehouse will accept your shipment. This is a safety window for you, and good project managers use this as “buffer” for clients who might be late in preparing for their show. (I know, that NEVER happens). We ALWAYS tell our clients the first date that the warehouse will accept the shipment, and we manage the production timeline to that date. Trust me, this hint will make you a corporate hero one day!

Now, back up from that date and figure your transit time. It seems obvious, but remember to take Sunday out of the transit days. From New Hampshire to Las Vegas, we figure on 4 transit days, then we add two more as safety.  This is your RELEASE DATE.

The RELEASE DATE is a very important moment here at Image 4. In our project planning software, we mark this date in CAPITAL LETTERS in RED. This is the date that the truck arrives to pick up the crates from the outgoing staging section of our warehouse. All work must be completed before this date, and all transit paperwork must be taped to the side of the crate on the night prior.

Now that you have the release date, you can go to bid with your freight requirement. I’ll share some ideas about that in the next post.