With the Fall tradeshow season coming on fast, Exhibit City News recently discussed exhibit transportation challenges and pitfalls with Guy Richards, executive vice president of Global Operations and Service for Global Experience Specialists (GES).
Under the watchful eye of Richards, GES Logistics provides exhibition transportation services including international air, ocean and surface transportation. GES also handles export and import customs formalities for its international customers.
Has providing an international logistics resource become a necessary component for US companies?
Our economy in general and our events specifically have evolved into a global environment. As such, providing a consistent, high-quality international tradeshow-focused logistics resource was a strategic desire for GES. As we all know, the movement of exhibit materials is not a universally understood, nor universally supplied, deliverable in the marketplace. GES has always felt a strong need to provide our show organizers and exhibitors with the best option when it comes to exhibits and events. Our enhanced offering gives GES Logistics the infrastructure to do just that on the international transportation front.
What are the most common pitfalls you see people fall into when shipping overseas?
International shipping, in and of itself, can seem daunting at times. With the unique characteristics of exhibiting, International Tradeshow Shipping can seem impossible. Common pitfalls include transportation options, payment schedules, ports, customs, bonds, international law and duties, just to name a few. The best advice to minimize pitfalls is to work with a transportation provider that understands both the intricacies of international shipping and unique requirements of trade fair materials.
What advice do you have for exhibitors when it comes to budgeting for their tradeshow program?
When it comes to budgeting, one must view and then understand the process in totality. Every dollar from your warehouse back to your warehouse counts. Throughout the process, view every decision as the buying decision it truly is. From a transportation perspective, make sure to use a provider who is knowledgeable and dedicated to the trade fair business. Occasionally, this may appear to initially cost more. But attention to detail in load pattern, on-time delivery, on-time pick up, and overall understanding of the process will often provide a return of dollars and peace of mind that dwarfs the perceived upfront cost.
What criteria should exhibit managers follow when selecting a shipping company?
The most important criteria in tradeshow transportation provider selection, in my opinion, is long-term dedication of purpose. Choose a tradeshow dedicated carrier that takes a vested stake in your exhibit each and every time out. Choose a carrier that consistently displays the sense of urgency and desire to make your company successful. Choose a carrier that views your tradeshow shipment as the single most important delivery it has today – just as you view it.
Should a customer be concerned if their contracted carrier uses third-party agents? Should they be made aware of this relationship?
The selection of third party agents is a very common practice in today’s marketplace. Some of the highest performing transportation providers in tradeshow transportation are third party providers. The answer is not necessarily in type, but instead in desire and ability.
What advice do you have to protect against damage or loss of exhibit components?
Unfortunately, loss and damage is a reality in transportation. Every carrier will experience it. The key for any shipping company is a policy of prevention and when necessary, remedy. Remedy is not always just reimbursement, but instead the ability to display. The cost of the materials within a crate can pale in comparison to losing your ability to participate in a tradeshow. As an example, GES Logistics guarantees your ability to display on GES tradeshow floors even in the unlikely event of loss or damage.
To protect oneself, first apply the advice consistently given above: deal with a transportation provider dedicated to this marketplace. This action will serve to minimize loss and damage. Secondly, ask your potential provider prior to shipment questions relating to its safety record. Most importantly, ask the potential provider for its contingency plan to allow you to display in case of a loss or damage. Finally, the shipper may elect insurance or “excess declared value” protection.
It seems that marshalling yards can be the test that separates the good carriers. Why is this so?
The marshaling yard; where quality carriers separate themselves from the rest. First, it is important to understand the necessity of a marshaling yard. The marshaling yard is the very nerve center of a tradeshow. Without it, there would only be only chaos and confusion. The marshaling yard is where the contractor contains the trucks and turns each delivery vehicle’s information into quality show data for the distinct benefit of its organizers and exhibitors.
The single biggest pitfall here is a lack of understanding. The purpose is for the tradeshow contractor to provide order to a delivery flow on the tradeshow floor that may not be one for one with the vehicle flow into the yard. Here, a quality transportation provider is knowledgeable, committed and prepared. The driver checks in on time with all relevant information relating to his load and his customer. He understands the purpose of the marshaling yard and works with the official services provider’s marshaling yard staff to be part of a solution for the exhibitors on the floor. The quality transportation provider is a long-term partner to the exhibitor and does not have 10 more deliveries to make before lunch. Instead, he has a vested interest in the exhibitor he represents and will work in concert with the official services provider to ensure complete success for their mutual customer.