The three most valuable commodities transported by the U.S. freight system are machinery, electronics, and motorized vehicles. But as a business owner or executive preparing for a major trade show, the shipment most valuable to you may well be your trade show booth.

Trade shows can be stressful even when everything goes well. To avoid unnecessary expense or headache, keep these tips in mind as you’re preparing for your trade show freight shipping.

Finish All Planning Sooner Than Necessary

To make sure your trade show freight shipping process goes as planned, make sure you plan ahead. You’ll want to choose the best option for trade show shipments that’s right for you — not the cheapest, but the most reliable. If you put off planning until the last minute, you’ll be in danger of paying extra costs and services. Or worse, you may not be able to work with the trade show freight carriers you needed in the first place.

As you’re figuring out what types of transportation options are best for your needs, answer the following questions:

  • Where is the shipment going? How much time are you allowing for delivery?
  • What are the packaging specifications for this shipment?
  • What special requirements are going to be involved for pickup and delivery?

Working on your trade show logistics planning at this advanced level will help ensure that everything goes right, so you can focus on the show once you get there.

Label All Shipments Carefully

Before you ever send anything critical through the mail you should carefully double-check your labeling, and the same is true for trade show freight. Carefully check, and check again, to ensure that your goods have been labeled properly.

Every item must be labeled with the correct show name and booth number, whether they’re all going to the same booth or not. Make sure any attached labels are fastened very securely, and that any previously-used labeling has been carefully obscured or covered up. Preprinted labels with an accurate return address should be used instead of inbound-only labels.

To make sure the delivery goes smoothly and on-time, there are many variables that should be taken into consideration. All packages must be labeled with all the appropriate information, including the name of the trade show event and the company running the booth. The business address and phone number should also be featured on each package.

Fill Out the BOL Completely and Accurately

Once the freight carrier has arrived at the venue, there are particular procedures that must be followed as the items are prepared to be moved from the loading dock. A carefully-written set of instructions should be included with these procedures on how to move and unload the packages correctly so that nothing is damaged. Make sure you inform the freight carrier what these details include.

The BOL that you need to fill out will say which individuals are responsible for the following tasks:

  • Moving all items to the correct booth
  • Removing empty packaging materials after the exhibit is assembled
  • Returning empty packaging after the show

Just like your shipping labels, the BOL must be filled out completely, accurately, and carefully. It’s easy to assume that your handling instructions will be followed just by leaving outbound paperwork with your shipment, but this is often a misconception. Instead, all paperwork should be delivered directly to a customer service desk at the venue to avoid any possible complications.

By being proactive, thinking things through, and remembering the tips on this list, you’ll stay ahead of the curve of events and make your trade show experience a success. Planning ahead and taking all the right precautions will help ensure that your trade show freight will arrive on time in good condition, and all within your budget.