Best Location to Ship Your Trade Show Exhibits

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Categories: Trade Show Shipping & Freight, Trade Show Tips

This post is more like a frequently asked question that needs some additional explaining. We often get asked: “Can you ship to our show?” or “Can you ship to our Hotel?”. The answer is yes and yes. Actually, we can ship just about anywhere in the U.S. and Canada.

Whether it’s shipped to your place of business, your residence, direct to show site, an advance shipment warehouse or your hotel, we can make shipping arrangements for your trade show display order for all-of-the-above. But there are a few other details that will help you in deciding the best location to ship your Trade Show Exhibits.

Here are the most common ones:

Shipping Exhibits to Your Place of Business

This is one of the best ways to receive your trade show display order. If you have enough time (and time is the operative word here), then you can’t beat sending your order direct to your workplace.

Advantages to shipping to your business:

  • Gives you an opportunity to inspect the order to make sure everything looks correct
  • Gives you an opportunity to set up the exhibit and become familiar with how it goes together
  • Let’s you decide how to take it to your show whether it is driving it or shipping it
  • Usually larger window of delivery
  • Less of a chance of it getting lost/ misplaced

Disadvantages to shipping to your business:

  • You will still need to transport or ship your exhibits to the show

This is the least stressful way of handling a new exhibit order and the extra time gives you the luxury to identify any problems *early* so that by the time your show starts, you can feel good knowing there aren’t any surprises waiting for you.

Shipping Exhibits to your Hotel

This one we get a lot. It can be super convenient to ship your trade show displays to the hotel you are staying at. Especially if you are attending a conference that is inside the hotel. Sometimes they receive packages at reception and other times (especially for larger hotels) they have a shipment receiving area. This is true for a lot of the big hotel/ casinos in Las Vegas. So just something to be aware of if you call the desk and they don’t have any record of your package, it may because it was received in a different department.

Shipping Exhibits to your Hotel
Photo by Marten Bjork on Unsplash

Advantages to shipping to your Hotel

  • Receive your trade show exhibits right when you arrive
  • Avoid drayage or cart handling fees at your show
  • Avoid having to check additional bags if flying

Disadvantages to shipping to your Hotel

  • Hotel may charge a handling fee
  • Higher likelihood of lost packages
  • If show is not at hotel, you still have to transport to Convention Center (might need a big taxi or Uber)

As you can see, shipping direct to your hotel can be good, but not without risk. On a couple occasions over 13 years of being in business (still extremely unlikely) we have had a few packages go missing. Hotels will receive packages as a service for their guests, but they are not in the shipping logistics business like a convention center where they have sophisticated systems on the back-end to track everything, so just something to be aware of.

Shipping Exhibits to Advance Shipment Warehouse

For most of the larger shows, the general contractor will have an Advance Shipment Warehouse. This is a holding area where the show can receive packages, pallets or crates days or weeks before a show actually begins for any given show and place them in truck trailers that will later be driven to the trucking dock at the convention center when it’s time for set up. It is a really great way to send all of your trade show exhibits before set up starts so you can have one less thing to worry about.

Trade Show Exhibit Crate
Photo by Stephane YAICH on Unsplash

This information is typically found in your Exhibitor Manual (example link). You can look under shipping/ freight for the information. You can refer to our post on Trade Show Freight Tips on how to best handle this. Just remember, you will need special ‘Advance Shipment Warehouse’ labels with the name of your company and booth number affixed to the outside of any and all packages and/ or crates. This is how the show routes the packages to your booth during the target move-in dates. This is in ADDITION to any UPS/ FedEx or Bill of Ladings.

Advance Shipment Warehouse Label
Advance Shipment Warehouse Label for a Trade Show Hanging Sign

Advantages to shipping to Advance Shipment Warehouse

  • Large Window of Delivery
  • The show will deliver direct to your booth for you during set up days
  • Usually less expensive than shipping Direct to Show Site
  • Benefits those who plan ahead to avoid last minute shipping arrangements
  • Exhibitor Manual may have a preferred shipping vendor for better rates

Disadvantages to shipping to Advance Shipment Warehouse

  • Freight or Packages will be subject to ‘drayage’ which is a fancy name for fee on the weight of your trade show exhibits
  • May be handling fees
  • May have to wait for packages to arrive in your booth space during set up date. (may come early in the day or it may come later)
  • Requires special label with company name and booth number affixed to the outside of each package

Shipping Exhibits Direct to Show Site

Shipping Direct to Show Site can be a good way to send your displays, but there are some very important things to know. The delivery window is MUCH smaller than the Advance Shipment Warehouse option. For the big mega shows, it is usually about a 3-Day window. For smaller shows it can be 2-Days or even 1-Day.

So be very mindful about whether the delivery window falls on a weekend or holiday since this will spell disaster especially for UPS or FedEx if they aren’t delivering on those days. If the delivery date falls on a Friday, you better make sure it gets delivered on that Friday, otherwise it won’t arrive until Monday and that won’t work if your show begins on a Saturday or Sunday.

If you try to have it delivered earlier than the delivery window, the show halls aren’t open yet and so they will just refuse the delivery or in a lot of cases, the UPS/ FedEx driver will show up and there won’t be anyone to receive it. In most cases they will return the following business day to try again.

Also, keep weather and time of year in mind. If it’s snowing in Chicago, it might not look good for hitting your target delivery date if there is a snowstorm.

Advantages to shipping Direct to Show Site

  • Great for last minute orders
  • Don’t have to carry or transport packages from hotel to convention center
  • Packages or Crates will be routed direct to your booth

Disadvantages to shipping Direct to Show Site

  • Narrow delivery window
  • Weather delays can mean missing the window
  • Delivery window may spill into weekend and/ or holiday
  • Requires special label with company name and booth number affixed to the outside of each package

Hopefully this post takes it one step further than just a FAQ and really helps give you enough information to determine which delivery option works best for you. Keep in mind, we do all-of-the-above A LOT. There is no set way of doing it. My favorite is shipping to the Advance Shipment Warehouse since that is usually the smoothest, but time doesn’t always allow for that.

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