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Understanding Freight Fees

by Candy Adams

 Theres a simple question exhibit managers ask when planning their tradeshow budget: How much will it cost to ship my exhibit freight to a show?”

The problem is theres not one simple answer. The final cost of your shipment is affected by many variables:

  1. What geographic locations are you shipping from and to? There are different tariffs–or rates–depending on if you are shipping locally, across state lines, and in commonly used freight lanes or to more remote areas.
  2. How fragile is your freight? Equipment and exhibit properties also ship on different tariffs, based on their fragility.
  3. Where are you delivering to? There are different rates if your truck will be dropping off at a warehouse (ie, advance warehouse or exhibit house) or waiting in line–sometimes overnight–at a marshaling yard waiting to unload at busy convention center docks.
  4. Whats the timeframe between pick-up and delivery? The quicker your freight needs to move, the more expensive its likely to be–from next-flight-out, to next day, two to three day, or a week-plus for cross-country shipments.  
  5. How is your shipment packaged? Will it be palletized, crated, in rolling cases, D-containers, cardboard cartons or odd-shaped pad-wrap?
  6. What type of carrier are you using? Common carriers, van lines, expedited freight and airfreight carriers, and door-to-door carriers (eg, UPS, FedEx or DHL) all have their quirks on what theyll move and what they charge. And some door-to-door carriers can deliver to–but cannot pick-up from–convention facilities.
  7. What does each piece of your freight weigh, and what are the dimensions (height, length and width)? Costs are generally computed based on the dimensional weight–a calculation of weight plus total cubic dimensions.
  8. Whats the current cost of fuel? There may be surcharges calculated based on the current cost of fuel to move the freight.
  9. Are you adding valuation to the very minimal coverage per pound you automatically receive? Make sure that if your freight were lost or damaged, you have coverage to replace it.
  10. What special equipment and services will you require (eg, a liftgate truck if there arent docks, pallet jack, wait time in the shows marshaling yard dropping off or picking up freight, additional valuation, etc.)? Ask your carrier what ancillary charges” you may incur when requesting a pre-shipment quote.

Working closely with your shipping agent will help you compute your estimated costs and make sure youve covered all your bases for an on-budget shipment!

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