Exhibitor Manual Explained: Shipping Labels

Categories: Exhibitor Manual Explained

Shipping labels are very important when shipping your exhibit material to a show.

Get it right and it will be a huge relief to know everything is safe and sound at the show or warehouse.

Get it wrong and you may spend hours tracking down your shipment or worse never finding it at all.

Not to worry, this post will explain everything you need to make sure the labels are properly identified and filled out to make delivery a success.

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Information to Add to your Shipping Label

Each label will need the following information so that everything goes smooth:

  • Your Company Name- This should be the company name that the show has listed for you. Make sure it is spelled and listed exactly the same way as the show has it recorded so they can identify it easily.
  • Your Booth Number- Once you have reserved your booth space, you will get a Booth Number, this needs to be written on the label clearly and is very important so they know which booth to deliver to.
  • Number of Packages- This will help the receiver at the warehouse or convention center know how many packages are in the shipment so they can all be accounted for. If it says 1 of 3 packages and they only receive 2, that is the fastest way to know if there might be a missing package.

Finding Your Shipping Label

First things first, your shipping labels can be found in your Exhibitor Manual. You should have this sent to you as either a link to the show’s website where you can download and print, or it may be emailed to you.

Either way, it is vitality important to locate your Exhibitor Manual, since this will have everything you need to navigate your pre-show planning.

Once you locate the Exhibitor Manual, download it to your computer where you can easily access it and be able to print from.

Now comes the fun part…

There are usually 2 or 3 types of shipping labels depending on the show. They are:

Advance Shipment Warehouse Shipping Labels

Direct to Show Site Shipping Labels

and sometimes Hanging Sign Shipping Labels

Let’s cover each.

Advance Shipment Warehouse Shipping Labels

The Advance Shipment Warehouse Labels look like this:

Advance Shipment Warehouse Shipping Labels Example
An Example of what an Advance Shipment Warehouse Label might look like

This is for any shipments where you can send out well in advance of the show and they will receive, store, and record your shipment at an off-site location near the convention center.

This is a great way to send your materials to your show for the following reasons:

  • Send shipments to Advance Warehouse up to a month before the show begins
  • Large Delivery Window
  • The show contractor will deliver your packages, crates or pallets direct to your booth at your target move-in date.
  • Low-stress knowing your shipment has arrived and you won’t feel as rushed

Delivering to the Advance Shipment Warehouse is by far my favorite way of shipping to any show that offers it.

This option rewards those that plan ahead and give themselves plenty of time before the show starts.

But what happens if we are stretched for time or can’t get our act together to take advantage of this option?

Well, that’s when you ship Direct to Show Site

Direct to Show Site Labels

Missed the cutoff for shipping to the Advance Shipment Warehouse?

No problem, you’re in luck!

The other VERY common way of sending your trade show exhibits and materials is to send them Direct to Show Site.

Here is an example:

Direct to Show Site Shipping Labels Example
Example of what a Direct to Show Site label might look like

These deliveries are made direct to the Convention Center during the days and hours leading up to the start of the show.

The delivery window can be very small (sometimes just a day or two) and you will also want to make sure one of those days doesn’t fall on a weekend which does happen often to where UPS or FedEx won’t delivery on those days for ground delivery.

Deliver too early, and it will get refused or there won’t be anyone there to receive it.

Deliver too late and you literally just missed the show.

Here are the pros for sending direct:

  • Allows for last minute shipping Direct to Convention Center
  • Great for last minute packages to send

Here are the cons for sending direct:

  • Narrow delivery window and one of the days can fall on a weekend
  • If it arrives too early it may be refused or no one there to receive it
  • Delivery happens during the crazy move-in period and may take a while for it to get routed to your booth

So how do you go about navigating the Direct to Show Site option and it’s narrow delivery window?

Look on your calendar and determine based on the dates that are on the Direct to Show Site Label what your window looks like and if any of those days fall on a weekend or holiday where UPS and FedEx won’t delivery without a ‘Saturday Select’ option.

If you only have a 1-Business Day window (gulp!) which does happen pretty often like if it falls on a Friday/Saturday, then you may want to either ship it ground so that it gets scheduled to arrive on Thursday. Yes, Thursday. Doing it this way, it will get refused since no one was there to receive it, but they should try again the following day for another delivery attempt on Friday.

This works well if you are concerned about weather delays since you have an extra day buffer… just in case!

The other option would be to expedite it so that it is a little more reliable and you can even put ‘Saturday Select’ so that they will deliver on a Saturday.

It’s always a bit of a gamble anytime you send “Direct to Show Site”, but it is certainly widely used and something we do all the time.

Trade Show Hanging Sign Shipping Labels

The other shipping label commonly found in the Exhibitor Manual, especially for larger shows is a separate label for Trade Show Hanging Signs.

Here is an example of one:

Trade Show Hanging Sign Shipping Labels Example
Example of what a Trade Show Hanging Sign Shipping label might look like

These get their own label so that once the warehouse receives it, they can bundle all the Trade Show Hanging Signs in a separate trailer because these are the first to get rigged and set up. It is easier for the show to go through with the tractor and hang all the signs while the show floor is still clear.

How to Properly Apply the Show Labels on your Shipment

Now that you have identified the correct label and printed it out and made sure to fill it in properly, the next step is to affix it to the outside of your shipment.

Applying Shipping Labels to Cardboard Box

If it is going on a cardboard box, use clear shipping tape and carefully adhere it to the package right next to the UPS, FedEx or other carrier label so that it is clearly visible. Cover the whole thing with clear tape so it doesn’t run the risk of ripping or tearing.

btw: I like Scotch Tape since the adhesive sticks better than a lot of the generic tapes.

Applying Shipping Labels to Pallet

If the labels are going on a pallet that is shrink-wrapped, then apply the label using clear packaging tape next to the Bill of Lading (BOL). I also recommend adding the shipping label with your booth number on both sides of the pallet.

Redundancy is your friend!

Applying Shipping Label to a Crate

If the Labels are going on a wood crate, then you can use staples or even better a glue so that it doesn’t come off. The next time the crate is shipped, you can simply glue the new label over the old one. Again, make sure it is next to the Bill of Lading.


I hope this helps with your planning so that your shipments arrive safe-and-sound. Remember to remove any old labels so that it doesn’t cause confusion!

For more information about shipping via Freight, head over to an article we wrote called ‘9 Trade Show Freight Tips‘ that will help explain even more.


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