Trade show freight is a very time-sensitive segment of the transportation industry. In fact, due to the extremely high standards within this niche, there are companies solely dedicated to trade shows. Trade show freight requires narrow pickup and delivery windows, no tolerance for damage and a “get it done-no matter what” type of attitude. Most transportation companies do not normally provide this level of white glove service, therefore a logistics company dedicated to trade shows and exhibits is usually called upon. These full-service companies will help plan, create, transport, set up and tear down trade show exhibits – all for a premium price.
According to an article in Exhibit City News by Zeenath Haniff, it is the changes that make trade show freight such a challenge. Brian Rutter of ICAT Logistics said, “Trade show freight is often designed to the last minute. Most shipments are changed from the time we quote them to when they’re booked, and again from the time they’re booked to when they’re shipped.” Rutter added, “Opportunity costs are huge when things don’t go well; it’s not worth making that risk with trade show material.” If a shipment is late - at best, there will be higher costs for last minute material handling - up to a 30% increase. At worse, it can cause the exhibit to miss the show entirely. Very high penalties are involved if that happens.
I learned my lesson the hard way when I transported construction equipment to Con-Expo, which is one of the largest trade shows in the world. I transported two rock drilling machines from North Carolina to Las Vegas and arrived a day early. That did not matter as the company that handled unloading adhered strictly to their timeline. I was told to arrive the next morning at 0600 in which I did - only to sit around all day and not get empty until 2000 (8pm) that night. No detention on trade show loads... But the good news is that I learned a lesson - not to transport to a trade show ever again!