Avoid Disaster when Tradeshow Shipping

on April 8, 2019

For many companies, tradeshows are major events. The opportunity to physically put yourself in the middle of a crowd of your target audience is golden. Therefore, it’s vital that you put your best foot forward. No matter how much you plan, however, booths and other items aren’t in your control during shipping. This leaves a lot of room for mistakes that can lead to panic.

Fortunately, there are some things you do have control over that will help you avoid or recover should something go wrong. Here are four tips to help you navigate or circumvent the most common disasters.

Standing out
Whether you use cardboard, plastic, or wood crates, chances are good they look identical to many others. This can slow down the process of identification, separate crates that belong together, and in certain cases, put the wrong piece with an owner.  If you can put similar, visible markings on each of your crates, you can avoid a lot of hassle. Whether that’s a large sticker with your logo or simply using a marker to draw a symbol on each piece, you and others can quickly identify what belongs to you.

Staying found
This tip is about identifying your crates individually. Here’s a good piece of advice outlined in Exhibitor Online’s Q and A article by David Mihalik answering, “How can I customize and maintain my crates to make them easier to find and ship?”

“For example, let’s say a crate is missing. You describe it to your shipper as ‘the big wooden one.’ Of course, you have four other ‘big wooden ones,’ so you haven’t really narrowed the field. But if you had assigned your crate a name, you could tell your shipper ‘Big Bob is AWOL,’ and assuming you’d labeled your crate’s exterior and discussed your naming system with your shipper, he or she would know exactly which box was gone. Certainly, you could use a numbering system as well, but it’s just not as fun and certainly not as memorable as names.”

So while you may follow the first tip and make each crate clearly yours, it’s still a god idea to individually identify your pieces, too.

Structural integrity inside and out
Even worse than losing a crate is finding out that its contents have been damaged. You’re showing your company against all your competitors at a tradeshow, so it’s vital that you’re represented perfectly. If there’s anything wrong with your product, the entire event is a bust. Televisions and AV equipment are also damaged quite often – not just by shippers but event handlers. While it’s fairly easy to pick up new equipment, it’s costly and inconvenient. Since it can be hard to prove whether a shipper or event employee is the one who did the damage, you may not be covered for cost.

Therefore, it’s important to always use crates and padding that is going to do its job. Limit your reusage of cardboard, and fully inspect all crates before packing them. If you have fragile items, consider whether the investment of custom crating will save you in the long run. Companies that do customization well will not only completely protect your contents, but also make it faster and easier for you to set up and tear down. (Here are some real life examples of the benefits of custom crates.)

Hidden costs
Another cost you can gain more control over is how much you’re paying to ship. Some freight handlers estimate weight and dimensions, which could mean you’re paying more than you should. If your case and contents remain the same every trip, document the weight and dimensions right on the containers. Just be sure to be accurate. It would be disadvantageous to write yourself under and have the freight handler check.

Overall
The uncertainties of tradeshows are stressful, but with a few easy steps, you can assert some control over potentially bad situations. If you’re not sure whether a custom crate is right for you, talk to Packnet about your concerns. We want you to make the decision that is best for your company whether that’s our custom crating or not. Not ready to chat? Fill out a free assessment here. Reach us directly at 952.944.9124.