Exhibitors have multiple duties during a trade show. They have to be available to interact with any prospect buyers, sign up for networking events, interact with dissatisfied customers, but there’s a significant task that takes place well before you even pack your suitcase to fly to the event. We’re talking, of course, about trade show shipping and setting up your booth. After all, your booth is a representation of your company and you need for everything to go swimmingly on the first go.
Common advice is to start your preparations as early as possible. Earlier the better is what we say. A month in advance will give you room to look into your options at a more in-depth level. Prices won’t be so high and you’ll skip out on a lot of additional costs that arise from last-minute rushes to get promotional materials and booth backdrops shipped overseas. The extra time gives you a chance to save yourself needless headaches with your business trip. Here are our lessons:
Half the battle is knowing where your parcels have ended up. Most trade shows will offer a kind of shipping service at supposedly preferential rates, but we encourage you to look into providers that have real-time tracking. If you’re not pleased with courier services, there’s the option to bring your unit on your flight to the trade show. Either way gives you the ability to know where in the world at any given moment your shipment is. In the end, it’s really the most important thing in the entire business trip and you can travel safely knowing everything is going to be OK.
Tracking is useless if you haven’t filled out the shipping documents correctly. Couriers can only operate under clear instructions and this means that the BOL has to become your best friend in this process. For first time exhibitors, the BOL is the abbreviation of Bill of Lading, which is arguably the most important document when it comes to shopping. It covers how your packages should be transported and unloaded. BOL also handles other responsibilities like who is responsible for the removal of any empty packaging materials and crates. Take it from us, you want to spend a lot of time filling this out and confirming that the courier has received the documentation and will act accordingly. Always check with the customer service desk.
It’s standard practice to set up your booth, which can take up hours if you’re careless about it. A good plan always trumps enthusiasm, even if you’ve done this before. Booth installation always follows a strict procedure and you need to know which boxes and containers carry what. Label all boxes clearly and if there are any requirements for shipping (fragile items and pieces that have to be propped in certain directions), make it abundantly clear so you avoid damage during shipping and delivery to the exhibition venue. Knowing what box you need at each step is going to shave off valuable time during this day and conserve the energy of your team.
Trade show storage is another strain on your budget as you have to pay for your booth and materials to be stored away until you set them up. You have to accept that you will be spending money a lot for a trade show, but you have to think about how to spend it wisely. One way to guarantee you get the absolute most out of storage and potentially minimize costs is to check with the hotel, whether there is available storage space. Hotels have a reputation to uphold so the staff there is sure to be more mindful of the safety of your packages.
If that’s not an option, then you have to think about volume and sacrificing non-essentials. There are several alternatives to shipping every last bit of promotional materials. One way is to contact local print shops for promotional materials and local sign makers ahead of the trade show. Combine low rates by placing an order in advance with the lower costs of moving these materials on site and you get the perfect solution to your storage dilemma.