Shipping Tips for Trade Shows


When exhibiting at a trade show or event, shipping items for the show is inevitable. Making sure that your items will arrive ON TIME and INTACT is crucial to having a successful show.

Three ways to successfully ship your exhibit to show are:

  • Ship to Advance Receiving

  • Ship Direct to Show Site

  • Ship to Your Hotel

When shipping to a trade show MYDISPLAYSOURCE recommends sending your material to the advance receiving warehouse. This will allow you to have your exhibit properties at your booth space as early as possible. Generally, the show contractor will charge a higher material handling rate, but the convenience and peace of mind are worth it. In some cases, shipping to a trade show may be less expensive than shipping direct to show site because trucking companies tend to add a surcharge if they need to deliver to a convention center. Depending on the event, your waiting time charges can exceed the difference in the material handling rates.

Shipping direct to show site is a little trickier. First, you must find a carrier that will deliver at a specified time to a specified venue. While the material handling rate is generally a little less – whatever savings you may receive could be offset with surcharges and waiting time. In addition, you may encounter delivery delays that could affect your scheduled installation and dismantle start times.

Sometimes, direct to show site is the only option due to a project that finishes at the last minute. If you are considering shipping to the show site, please consider using a trade show carrier who has the proper amount of experience with this specific type of shipping and make sure to get a latest pick up date to ensure an on time delivery.

Shipping to hotels – So many of our clients ship to their hotel then find out that they have to haul all their gear to the trade show floor. This ends up being an inconvenience for them and sometimes a costly one too. Package fees, extra transportation costs and possibly even labor to help get the packages there can be involved.

We recommend only sending a small box or two to the hotel at the most.

A perfect example of shipping to hotels option is company ABC Widgets who had a booth at Widgets Expo. Thinking they would save some money on shipping and material handling, they had multiple boxes sent to the hotel not realizing that the hotel charges a premium to receive packages. On top of that, ABC Widgets had no way of carrying 30, 40, 50 boxes of widgets to the convention center without making multiple trips. In the end, they had to rent a van, buy a hand truck and deliver the packages themselves. Time that could have ben better spent on getting ready for the event was instead used to do a task that could have easily been avoided.

Here is a list of things to consider when preparing for a trade show shipment:

  • What is the latest date I can send a shipment without having to incur additional costs to make the advance receiving deadline date?

  • Are there any upcoming holidays or inclement weather that can delay my shipment?

  • Is sending my shipment via courier my best option or should I consider using a trucking company to help with shipping costs?

  • Does the shipping company I selected deliver on weekends (if applicable) and who can I call if I have a question during non-business hours/days?

  • Is the packaging of my equipment sufficient enough for round trip shipping?

  • Before shipping – did I take photographs of my packages in case they go missing?

  • Are my packages properly labeled specifying the event name, exhibitor name and booth number?

  • Once my packages have shipped, do I have tracking numbers and proof of delivery?

  • Ask yourself, what do I do with it after the show? Discard, ship back or give away the items?

  • If shipping via a courier service, be sure to include return labels and instructions along with account numbers so you get your corporate shipping rate instead of a marked up shipment from a third party. Make sure to keep your tracking numbers and take photos of your boxes and labels.

  • If using a trucking company, ensure you have a contact name and number that you can call at any time to verify a pick up is scheduled. Remember, not all trucking companies work on the weekends, but in most cases your pick up can be on a Saturday or Sunday.

  • Use experienced trade show carriers and know their limitations.

MYDISPLAYSOURCE hopes these simple tips will make your exhibiting experience better.

Contact us at 855-MYSOURCE (855-697-6872) or email for more.

Going International? Here is special information regarding International Trade Shows

If you are exhibiting at an event outside of the United States, it is important to take into consideration the Customs procedures for the country where you are exhibiting. Every country is different and making a mistake can be very costly.

For exhibitors that are exhibiting internationally, we strongly suggest using a logistics company that is well versed with shipping to international trade shows. In some cases, your standard freight forwarder may be able to ship your freight to the destination city/country but is not able to maneuver through the various Customs procedures for international trade shows,

Some important tips to consider when shipping internationally:

  • Depending on where you are exhibiting, the customs clearance process can take between 2 – 4 weeks. Make sure to get a shipping deadline date from your logistics company as soon as possible to avoid having to pay expedited charges or not being able to ship to the event.

  • Never send your packages to an international trade show via a common courier company such as FedEx or UPS. Although they may seem like the more economical option, in most cases they will not be able to get your shipment through Customs and you will not have your goods for the event.

  • Make sure to discuss with your logistics provider any special packing or document requirements for the country you are shipping to. This should be done before you pack your items for shipping.

  • Before purchasing any giveaways make sure to check with your logistics provider about any shipping restrictions for each specific country.

  • Always get an estimate before shipping your products to ensure you budget accordingly and make sure the estimate includes customs clearance charges.

To learn more about cost savings when it comes to trade show services contact us at 855-MYSOURCE (855-697-6872) or email