ILLUSTRATION: MARK FISHER
What are the pros and cons of shipping my exhibit to an advance warehouse versus directly to the show site?
The main benefit of shipping to the advance warehouse is that your freight will be delivered to the show floor before any targeted freight shipped to the show site, which can give you a bit of a leg up on your installation schedule. In fact, you may be able to avoid potential overtime labor charges on setup, as your freight will be ready for installation earlier and possibly on straight time. Plus, you won't have a crew waiting around on the clock for the freight to be brought to the booth.
As another bonus, any time your freight is sitting in the advance warehouse, you're essentially getting free storage for up to 30 days. Sometimes you can even plan shipments to travel directly from one show to the next advance warehouse for multiple shows in a row, dramatically reducing storage fees and shipping costs.
The trouble with shipping items to the advance warehouse, however, is that your shipment has to be ready for transport much sooner than if it were simply headed to the show site, and if you miss the target date, you may end up paying a financial penalty. So if you're pressed for time, the advance warehouse may not be an option.
Another pitfall is that this option can increase material-handling charges. Drayage rates vary from show to show, and sometimes drayage related to the advance warehouse is more expensive. Plus, this additional handling increases the risk of loss or damage. That is, every time your crates are hoisted onto a forklift, there's a chance of a mishap – and of various pieces within your shipment becoming separated or lost. So when you increase the number of times you move your freight, the chance of costly dilemmas also goes up.
In addition, exhibit materials are not always stored inside a climate-controlled warehouse; they may be relegated to old "cartage" transportation trailers, which frequently lack any sort of HVAC system and are not always secure when parked in a storage lot. This is particularly problematic with regard to locales that have bouts of extreme heat or cold, which can wreak havoc on exhibit graphics, plastics, adhesives, and more.
Clearly, there's no standard "right" answer to "Where should I ship my freight?" But if you consider these critical pros and cons as they relate to your shipment, you'll surely identify the best solution to fit your needs.
— Betsy P. Earle, CTSM, founder, Event Driven Solutions, LLC, Clearwater, FL