For trade show managers looking to improve their processes, use these 10 steps to help cut costs and become more efficient!

10 Steps Trade Show & Event Managers Can Take to Save Money and Improve the Logistics of Their Next Event

10 Steps Trade Show & Event Managers Can Take to Save Money and Improve the Logistics of Their Next Event


The logistics of trade show assets can make or break an event. A small error in the planning or execution of a trade show shipment can increase the cost of exhibiting or result in exhibit materials missing from the show- jeopardizing a company’s investment. For event planners looking to improve their processes and reduce the cost of attending large events this year, logistics is an important variable to review. Awareness, preparation, and careful management of shipment timing can help save money and protect a company’s trade show investment.

The team at EFW Tradeshow has compiled a list of 10 action items for event managers to improve the logistics of their next event.


1. Review your company’s entire show schedule and proactively plan. The logistics required to attend back-to-back shows can be cost-prohibitive if not considered well in advance. A plan that includes shipment planning, short-term storage solutions, temporary warehousing, and caravans can help save money.

2. Be aware of the deadlines listed in the event manual. Pay attention to the deadlines listed in the event manual, including timelines for shipping to the advance warehouse or show site, targeted move-in/out, and forced dates and times. Surcharges for missed deadlines can increase exhibitor fees and lead to timeline issues with delivery and booth installation.

3. Understand how drayage fees are calculated. Drayage, or material handling, is the roundtrip charge exhibitors pay to transport freight from the back of the carrier’s truck to the event space, and the return trip after the show is complete. Drayage can be charged as a flat fee, on a price per pound, or per hundred pounds basis. It is important to understand how your show calculates drayage and to follow the guidelines. This cost can account for a significant percentage of an exhibitor’s show budget.

4. Package freight carefully and appropriately. Use crates, pallets, bubble wrap and foam padding to protect your exhibit assets during transit. Additionally- make sure your carrier knows they are loading the truck for a trade show delivery. Special handling fees for shipments that require additional time, labor, and equipment to unload, as defined in the show kit, will increase the cost of drayage.

5. Label each shipment piece and remove old labels. Information such as company name, booth number, and number of packages on each piece increases the chance that your shipment will arrive on time. Without this information, pieces could get lost.

6. Weigh and dimensionalize your freight before shipping to reduce billing errors. The weight listed on your Bill of Lading (BOL) should be completed accurately. This is often used by the event to determine drayage costs or provide you support if the drayage costs are inaccurate.

7. Ask your carrier about wait time. Venue marshaling yards and wait times can cost you money. Carriers can wait in a marshaling yard for hours before being called to the dock for delivery or pick up. Check with your carrier to see how they are calculating wait time costs to ensure you don’t get hit with surprise charges.

8. Complete and submit your material handling agreement (MHA) at the end of the show to reduce forced freight charges. The MHA informs the General Service Contractor (GSC) that your materials are ready for transit, and without it, the GSC will not release the freight to your carrier and may “force” your shipment by sending your materials back to the advance warehouse or the next destination using their carrier of choice. Submit this document on time and send a picture to your carrier.

9. Review your insurance policy and understand your existing coverage. Too often, exhibitors assume that their assets are covered under the company’s corporate policy. However, many policies limit protections or don’t protect all property in transit or when it is temporarily away from the business location. Consider additional coverage options to protect yourself from unanticipated expenses.

10. Consider a transportation partner that specializes in trade show shipping. Carriers with experience in handling exhibit materials safely and delivering them to event venues have the specialized equipment and infrastructure in place to get your materials there on time and in one piece. Add-ons like proactive planning, short-term storage, and on-site support can save time and money. The EFW Tradeshow team is devoted exclusively to special event transportation and logistics support. For more than 20 years, we have been helping companies improve efficiencies and reduce transportation costs. Contact our team to see if we can help support the logistics of your next event shipment.


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About the Author

Let's Talk Supply Chain 10 Steps Trade Show & Event Managers Can Take to Save Money and Improve the Logistics of Their Next Event 1

EFW is a leading domestic and international freight forwarder in the United States, providing customized logistics and warehousing solutions for clients around the world and across all industries via air, ground, and ocean freight. To learn more about EFW, visit

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