As a marketer preparing for a trade show, you have a ton on your plate. Dealing with the shipping logistics behind your booth is not so fun, or so glamorous, but it's an important part of ensuring success at the show. So, let's break down the best ways to get your booth to the show and back again with as little headache as possible.
Shipping your booth to a trade show starts with strict attention to detail when packing. We recommend labeling every individual component and tagging each of them in a digital tracking system.
Components should be loaded onto secure skids or packed into wooden crates for extra protection. (Some people use other materials, but we’ve found that wood is the most durable.) Each should be photographed and labeled in a format that identifies how many total crates there are (e.g., 1 of 10, 2 of 10, etc.)
To get an accurate estimate for shipping, you need to know what all those parts weigh and how much space they take up when packed. Plus, once your booth arrives at the venue, you need to understand each trade show’s drayage policies to avoid paying special handling fees.
Trucking services do the vast majority of booth shipments. For ground transportation, there are two basic shipping options.
Ship With Show
In some instances, you can ship your booth directly to the general contractor for the trade show itself. Shipping direct to the general contractor is done well before the show starts, which can put additional demands on your timeline, but it does guarantee that your booth’s components arrive at the show floor well before most other brands, giving you plenty of time to set up your booth.
To find out how to ship your booth using the trade show’s official carrier, check with your specific show’s freight coordinator.
Ship With Experienced Trade Show Carrier
Delivering a booth to a trade show comes with its own set of unique challenges. Choosing a shipping company with demonstrated experience in the trade show industry is the best way to guarantee that your booth will arrive on time and in good condition. We use a network of preferred providers with years of experience to deliver all of our custom rentals.
Example Trade Show Carriers:
Setting Up Your Booth
Getting your booth set up demands careful attention to detail and excellent project management skills. Because most trade shows have agreements with local labor unions, you’ll want to make sure you have someone at the show who knows your booth down to the last bolt and has the skills to communicate and manage labor teams. Not sure what’s involved? Here’s a step-by-step breakdown.
- Step 1: Check freight to make sure all components have arrived and are undamaged.
- Step 2: Check electrical connections to make sure everything is in the proper place according to your design.
- Step 3: Check setup for hanging signs to ensure the installation of proper supports.
- Step 4: Lay carpet or other flooring, cutting in cords where necessary, and then cover with plastic.
- Step 5: Start building your structure.
- Step 6: Install panels, graphics, A/V displays, and other booth elements.
- Step 7: Do a walk-through once build is complete, checking all components to make sure they’re working correctly.
We always recommend having an on-site support person at every show you attend. They can handle your freight, locate your booth components, manage labor teams, and double-check that your booth is set up precisely as expected.
With a great support team, you can spend your final pre-show moments going over your marketing campaign instead of organizing labor. During the show, support teams should remain on hand to provide you with anything you need, from adding last-minute components to troubleshooting A/V systems.
Important Things To Remember At The Trade Show
During the show, your support team should be available at all times to give you any assistance you need. They should know your booth inside and out. We recommend carrying a folder of all your most important resources to keep you and your team organized. That folder should contain things like printed electrical layouts, booth plans, and shipping info.
In addition, stock your booth with handy items that you may need at a moment’s notice. Here are some things we always advise our clients to keep around:
- Promotional items
- Business cards
- Business card collector
- Name tags
- Portable steamer/vacuum
- Office supplies (pens, dry erase markers, safety pins, etc.)
- All-in-one tool (screwdriver & knife)
- Device chargers
- Extra cords, cable wires, and zip ties for cable management
- Comfortable shoes
- Gum and breath mints
- Hand sanitizer
- First-aid kit
- Ziploc baggies
- Stain remover
Taking Down Your Booth
Labor teams get back together after the show to tear down your booth. Careful labeling, tracking, and packaging of components is critical at this stage to ensure parts are not lost or damaged in shipping. Any damaged or worn components should be labeled and noted for future repairs.
On-site support teams can take care of tearing down your booth and preparing it for shipping, so you can focus on following up with clients and your marketing teams.
Shipping Your Booth Home
The same considerations apply for sending your booth home as they do for shipping your booth to the show. Preferred providers with trade show experience are the best option for brands that want worry-free shipping. If you’re renting with us, we take care of all shipping after the show.
Getting your booth to the show and back again is just one aspect of designing and renting an incredible exhibit. Find out what else goes into crafting the perfect trade show experience for your brand. Download our free white paper: The Perfect Booth, The Right Price.