How to Protect Yourself Against the Hidden Cost of Shipping to Trade Shows


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Trade Shows are lots of work, but they can generate lots of new business for their participants. In addition to the expense of staffing your booth, food, lodging, display, travel, etc. you need to consider how will you transport your equipment to and from the event. This sounds like a simple task, but few freight carriers deliver to trade shows. Why don’t many carriers ship to trade shows? Anytime you have lots of businesses shipping to the same destination on the same day there will be problems. Every hour the driver must wait in line to unload their delivery will cost the shipper extra money and delay the remaining deliveries in the trailer. This “waiting charge” is in addition to the freight quote given by the freight forwarder or carrier.

As a general rule shippers should only be charged waiting fees 30% - 40% of the time. Some of the larger conventions and trade shows incur wait times of four to six hours. The hourly charge, depending on the location, could be $30.00 - $100.00 an hour. Remember that you will need to transport your shipment to the convention center and return the shipment also. Waiting charges can occur on both the delivery and the return trip.

When counting the cost to participate as a vendor in a trade show remember to budget for the waiting time. There is only one trade show Logistics Company I know of that doesn’t charge any wait times. They charge a little more on the front end, but they accept all of the risk of the wait time charges. All of the other trade show logistics services do pass on the waiting fees of the carriers.

There are some carriers that inflate the waiting time charges consistently. Let’s say a driver had four shipments to a convention center in New York and had to wait four hours to unload his truck. The ethical thing to do would be to charge each shipment a one hour waiting fee. Since none of the four shippers knows how long the driver must wait or how many shipments are being delivered there is no recourse for the shippers to challenge the wait time fees. If the driver is charging $100.00 an hour they just made an extra $1,200.00 in profits. If the wait time is inflated the profits are increased even more. If you are consistently getting charged high waiting time fees I suggest you find another carrier.

Paul Buisson has been helping small businesses save on their shipping expense for over three years. He specializes in helping start-up businesses and businesses that don’t know anything about shipping. He can be contacted at 985-727-2992.


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