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Trade Show Shipping Tips

April 26, 2022 by FreightCenter
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“The larger the trade show, the bigger the shit show.”

– Multiple Sources

Transporting your trade show materials can be a daunting challenge, but for people who do it regularly, it’s almost no problem at all. 



Imagine hundreds of trucks (sometimes THOUSANDS) showing up to one location at the same time, with a limited time to offload their freight and get out of the way. 


More established shows and locales are better equipped to handle this type of chaos than others, but that shouldn’t be your problem as an exhibitor.  


As a trade show exhibitor, you’re just trying to get your stuff to your little square on the carpet. You’re certainly not interested in the miles of highway your stuff will travel, the number of hands who’ll touch your stuff, or what the actual term of what those people handling your stuff call it (“Freight”. It’s actually called “freight”.  )



Most reputable, established trade show organizers have contracts with logistics companies and carriers who specialize in trade shows. Therefore, if you’re looking for someone to take your trade show exhibit to the convention center, first ask who the organizer recommends. They’ll probably have a handout or a list of trade show shipping companies they recommend or prefer. These are carriers and logistics companies who have a deep understanding of the time constraints and guidelines they need to follow for the safe, on-time delivery of your exhibit materials.  


Some smaller trade shows, conventions, or venues may have only one carrier or logistics company that they work with, ensuring that the process of setup and breakdown goes as smoothly as possible.  


To ensure that you get your exhibit to the show on time and for the best price, here are two tips that experienced exhibitors live by:


  1. Plan early. Like, REAL early.

    Most companies interested in exhibiting at a trade show will first go as attendees. That means that their research and planning are about 15 months out. Once they’ve attended, then they’ll decide if they want to be exhibitors the following year. A year of planning is NOT too much, especially considering the state of logistics today (9/2021). Getting the materials you’ll need for your exhibit will probably take longer than you’re used to – then getting it to the show will be a separate challenge altogether.


  1. Work with a logistics company or carrier who KNOWS trade show shipping.

    Trade show shipping is more than just getting your exhibit materials from point A to point B; it’s about getting it there within a specific time frame and understanding how to navigate the environment.  


Many larger conventions and facilities use an offsite marshaling yard to stage all the incoming trucks and put them in line by arrival time and delivery location. This is done to keep the congestion away from the loading dock doors at the facility and keep the movement of trucks and freight going forward.


If you are not hiring a shipper or carrier who specializes in trade shows, you could be charged a wait time by the shipper, or worse.

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