Best Ways to Save on Exhibit Transportation

by Gwen Parsons 15. August 2013 17:38
Transportation accounts for about ten percent of the average trade show and event budget. Reducing the cost allows you to repurpose the savings and re-invest it in promoting your event to generate more traffic and more business. 

Use lighter weight display solutions
Itís no secret that weight dictates your freight and drayage costs. Display solutions that travel compactly and weigh less offer exhibitors BIG savings. Portable modular displays are designed to offer high style and built with fabric printed graphics and lightweight aluminum to lower transport costs.

Get accurate cost estimates
Nobody likes to return from an event to find invoices that are significantly higher than what was expected or budgeted. The best way to get accurate estimates up front is with the correct number of items and the weight for each of them (boxes, cases, carpet bags) in your shipment. With this information you can compare costs using different methods and service providers.

Airline Baggage
Check with your particular carrier on their policies and rates to take a portable modular display on the flight with you. For example, I called United Airlines about taking a display in two Rolluxe cases from DC to San Francisco as oversize bags and was quoted $200 per case.

UPS and FedEx
Exhibitors with smaller spaces love the convenience of collecting their display at their destination. These widely known and available services deliver anywhere Ė offices, hotels, convention hall business centers Ėat competitive rates for shipments weighing under 150 pounds. Built-in wheels on shipping containers make it easy for exhibitors to maneuver cases onto elevators and around the event floor. 

Be sure to ask what surcharges may apply to your shipment. For example, shipping display cases without an exterior carton or oversize cartons may incur additional fees.

Freight forwarders
When your shipment weighs over 150 pounds your best option is a freight forwarder. Freight forwarders manage a chain of suppliers and may use multiple carriers to deliver your display to its destination - by ground, air and water. Some are referred to as LTL which is light truck load meaning your shipment may be combined with others on the same truck.

Ask your estimator to quote different options. If you have multiple items to ship, compare the cost to ship them as individual items and together on a pallet or skid. Trucks delivering direct to the show or advanced warehouse have to get in line to unload. Check whether, and what, waiting fees may apply. Deliveries to locations without access to a loading dock will require trucks with a lift gate which may incur additional fees, too.

is the Senior Vice President of Marketing at Nomadic Display. She is a regular contributor to the Nomadic Display Blog and can be found at Google + and LinkedIn.

- See more at:
    Tradeshow and Exhibit Thoughtleaders
"The goal of education is the advancement of knowledge
and the dissemination of truth."

John F. Kennedy

Meet our Thoughtleaders: An Interview with
Gwen Parsons by Gordon Nary

Return to Gwen's Webpage
Thoughtleaders Main Page

Gordon:         When did your Nomadic journey begin?

Gwen:            In the summer of í86, Nomadic hired me to assist a gentleman with dealer support.  At that time Nomadicís dealer support consisted primarily of discount promotions and product literature.  Communication with hundreds of dealers in the US and Canada was by phone and snail mail back then.  I pitched the idea of a dealer newsletter by drafting one.  The company bought me a Mac and I learned desktop publishing. Today our marketing communications are sent to distribution partners around world via email in five different languages.   

Gordon:          What was your first trade show experience?

Gwen:             My first trade show was the TS2 Show in Louisville, KY.  Our west coast dealer designed the exhibit and all of the logistics were my responsibility.  I had never been to an exhibition before, much less managed one.  I remember it being chaotic and exhausting getting there.   I learned to fight fires when things didnít go according to plan.  Yet it was all worth it once the show opened.   It was exciting to greet our dealers for the first time, to talk with attendees about their event marketing needs and show off our products, to learn about our competition, and connect with members of press.  These are the opportunities that make exhibitors so passionate about face-to-face marketing today. 

Gordon:          What are your thoughts on the value of exhibit management education?

Gwen:             All I can think is, I wish I had the education opportunities back then that students and young professionals have available to them today.  Colleges and universities such as Bemidji, UNLV, and FIT, offer courses in exhibit design or management.  In addition, there are exhibit management certification programs sponsored by Exhibitor Media Group and associations such as the International Association of Exhibitions and Events and the Exhibit and Event Marketers Association.  Participation in these programs provides exhibit designers and marketers with tools to benefit their current role and better prepare them for careers in the exhibit industry.  

Gordon:         How have you seen exhibitorís display needs change over the years?

Gwen:            How much time do we have?  Just kidding, Iíll keep it short.  Exhibitor needs change based on the changes their business undergoes.   Business is a living organism with its own eco-system.  Science tells us that survival of the species is based on its ability to adapt to change.  Nomadic recognized the challenges marketers face and responded by introducing a portfolio of systems that support their businessí rapidly changing needs.

Nomadic invented the first pop-up display, Instandģ which enabled exhibitors to significantly reduce their trade show expenses.  Nomadic was also first to back exhibit systems with a lifetime warranty.  We developed a wide variety options to enable exhibitors to keep their presentation fresh, relevant and support new demands for greater functionality.  From there we developed new product lines designed to integrate, or connect, with one another and accept customized elements.  This enables Nomadic owners to have the individuality they desire along with the ability to reconfigure, adapt and expand their properties exhibits to serve new or different demands.

Gordon:         Marketing has undergone tremendous change over the past 25+ years that you have been with Nomadic.  How have your marketing programs adapted?

Gwen:             Before the turn of this century we invested heavily in print.  We had one of the top two advertising campaigns in the industry.  We took that strategy global and established domestic and international  call centers. But the Internet was a game changer.  It has been estimated that over 90% of B2B buyers start their buying journey on the Internet. So we redirected our marketing communications efforts accordingly.  We use search optimization, email, online ads and social media to drive customers to 16 content-rich websites in different languages.  And, of course, we participate in international, national and local trade shows.  

Gordon:          What advice would you give exhibit managers entering the field today?

Gwen;             Be fearless.  Try new things.  Walk shows as an attendee to see exhibitions from your audienceís perspective.  Evaluate your interactions with booth staff on the show floor and their post show follow-up efforts. Collect show promotions you admire from exhibitors. Take note (or photos) of the exhibit attributes that impressed you for your next exhibit design.  And establish a habit of measuring the performance of your exhibit marketing efforts. Itís an essential tool for reporting to your executive team and will also serve your program evaluations and future planning.

Gordon:        That is great advice. Exhibit managers should consider having Be fearless as a tattoo. With an increasing number of college and university students accessing our Journal and Library, I anticipate that we may soon see your advice in some unexpected places. I appreciate your participation as one of our Thoughtleaders and there are now thousands more who will have access to your insights and experience,