There are almost 12 million trucks, rail cars, locomotives, and sea vessels that move goods across the global transportation network. For many carriers, trade show freight makes up a major part of their business.

Between pickups and drop-offs, it shouldn’t be surprising that trade show shipments can wreak havoc on your trade show game. Depending on the trade show’s size, there will likely be trucks coming in and going out constantly, with hundreds of people all in a hurry to get around. It can be quite a mess. But don’t worry. With the following quick tips for shipping trade show freight, you’ll be free to rest easy on your big day.

The BOL You Give Your Carrier

The BOL that you use at pickup is absolutely crucial to the success of your trade show freight shipment. The freight bill of lading that you use at the time of pickup should feature the following information:

  • The physical address for the complex or building hosting the trade show.
  • The trade show’s specific name (multiple trade shows are sometimes held at the same complex at once, so this is important).
  • The name and number for your trade show booth.
  • The name of the trade show decorator and their phone number.

All of this information should be printed clearly and visibly, in a style that’s easy to read. It will need to be given to the company that’s participating in the trade show anyway, but you should also organize it on the BOL to hand off with your trade show freight at pickup.

Your Freight Carrier’s Qualifications

Trade show shipping involves certain paperwork and permits that not all carriers have. Some smaller or regional freight carriers don’t typically deliver to trade shows, and they may not have what they need to do your job safely and legally.

Before you hire any freight carrier to ship your trade show freight for you, just make sure that their business can and will participate in shipping for trade shows. If you contract a carrier without the right qualifications, you could end up with stranded freight on your hands — besides having to deal with storage or disposal charges, you’d probably miss the trade show. Make sure that you and your carrier are both informed.

Delivery Window

By this time, you’ve verified that your carrier of choice has permission to deliver to your trade show. You’ve also taken steps to ensure that all the necessary information is where it needs to be so your delivery gets to the right place on time. But even now, you’ve got to make sure your trade show freight arrives at the venue within the specified delivery window for you show booth.

Every trade show will have at least one designated date and time when vendors can drop off their freight. It’s incredibly important that your carrier arrives at the complex on the day before your booth’s delivery date. This way, they can set a delivery appointment with the venue for the next day. If a trade show delivery appointment is missed, the carrier will have to connect with the trade show authority and set up a new appointment, which causes delay and frustration at best, or a missed trade show at worst.

Avoid the Trade Show Storage

Unfortunately, the madness of trade show freight shipping doesn’t end when the trade show does. As soon as the show’s over, it’s imperative that you have your freight picked up right away. If you don’t have your booth packed up and removed immediately, the trade show organizers will go through the venue and clean up everything that was left, taking neglected booth materials to the trade show’s storage facility. Keep track of when the show will end, and make plans for getting your booth and materials picked up promptly.

By keeping these four tips in mind going forward, you can rest easy knowing your trade show freight is going to be taken care of.