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5 Questions – and Tips – to Prepare your Exhibit Freight for Shipping

by Candy Adams, a.k.a.,The Booth Mom,” CTSM, CEM, CMP, CMM, VEMM

Planning the shipment of your exhibit properties and supplies doesnt have to be painful if you follow these five steps:

  1. Manifest – Make a spreadsheet listing what youll be shipping, each pieces dimensions and weight, and the origin of the freight. Tip: Note, too, which ones will be returned after the show. 
  2. Packaging – Will your freight be shipped as loose, individual cartons; palletized (i.e., cartons banded and or stretch-wrapped on a pallet); in a D-container (palletized box); in rolling cases; wood crates; or pad wrapped? Tip: Check your exhibitor services manual as material handling costs may be affected by how your freight is packaged and the type of carrier it arrives on.
  3. Freight Origin – Where will the freight be picked up: at your exhibit house, promotional item vendor, corporate office, or graphics agency, etc.? Tip: Ask your exhibit house if theyll consolidate your marketing collateral and exhibit supplies with your exhibit shipment. 
  4. Destination – Where will you be shipping your freight: the shows general contractors advance warehouse or direct to show site? Check the deadlines in the exhibitor services manual for the dates when the advance warehouse accepts freight and if there is a freight target map for your show that shows when youll be allowed to unload freight onsite. Tip: You can always ask for a variance on your freight target if the one assigned doesnt work with your set-up schedule, but this, too, will have a deadline. 
  5. Timing – When will your freight be ready to ship? Share your manifest with your carrier and ask them how much lead time they need to get your freight to your chosen destination. Be sure to get your shipping order in earlier than youre used to pre-COVID, as theres now less capacity for moving freight. Tip: Always place your return shipping order at the same time as your shipping order to the show.

Planning ahead and working closely with your carrier will make sure all your freight is moved on time and on budget – because the worst show is a no-show!

Candy Adams is a multi-certified, veteran exhibit project manager, consultant, industry writer and exhibit staff trainer with over 30 yearsexperience managing exhibits, specializing in guiding exhibitors flawlessly through the tradeshow maze. Contact her

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