Before you elect to ship your trade show booth using an expedited service, such as UPS or FedEx Express, be sure to consider the size and weight of your shipments. Most 10ft displays, such as pop-up displays, are packaged in cases that these carriers will ship, but tack on additional fees for oversize parcels. This makes for a very expensive shipment when expediting.
For example, a 48 x 24 x 10 inch case will weigh in at 70 lbs even if the case is 15 lbs when shipping empty. Why? Because carriers use weights that are classified by a dimensional calculation (dimensional weights).
Even if a project is behind schedule, there are alternatives to shipping with an expedited service that professionals often overlook. Sometimes a company will offer to complete a project in a faster time period, kind of like skipping to the front of the line, in exchange for a rush fee. Be sure to check and see what this rush fee will cost, and if it corrects your schedule. In most cases a rush fee will cost less than the expedited shipping costs.
Shipping direct to a trade show can be tricky. Trade shows have specific deadlines for shipments to arrive, and some will refuse packages that miss these deadlines, in some cases even by a few hours. But most trade show service companies will have an allowance window, or grace period for late arrivals. For example, if the booth will arrive to the pre-show warehouse a day after the deadline, in the majority of cases the show staff will accept the package and bill the exhibitor a small fee. This fee is nearly always less than the cost of expedited shipping.
Carrying a booth on a plane as checked luggage should always be considered. Depending on the airline, it may classify as over sized luggage, but could still fly as one of the bags. Some airlines allow extra luggage to fly for free, some airlines have additional fees. The point is to check every option before making the call to spend exorbitant amounts of money on expedited shipping.
The best way to avoid expedited shipping costs is to complete projects weeks in advance. While this is not always achievable with every company, it should always be something to strive for. Allow for plenty of time to design, review, and ship the trade show display, and the company bank account will avoid the hefty charges of expedited shipping.
Exhibiting in Canada? Europe? Australia? Japan?
Expanding into the international market is always an exciting venture, but it can be a challenge when shipping your trade show display from place to place. Country codes, shipping insurance, duties, taxes, timing windows, and more can all impact your shipping schedule and quickly drain your accounts if they aren’t previously researched.
Avoid using FedEx or UPS for international shipping. They are extremely expensive and have numerous hidden fees. DHL is a much better choice for expedited shipping, and USPS works well for smaller shipments. If you have a large booth (20 x 20 and up), you may wish to consider an ocean shipment for a cheaper price. Just keep in mind you will need at least 4-6 weeks for the shipment to arrive, so plan accordingly.
International shipping can be a hassle, but if the methods are researched and documents are prepared correctly, everything should go smoothly.
We shipped a 20 x 20 truss display to the UK in 2010. It was in the UK for only a week and then sent back to the US. The customs company was not aware the booth shipped out of the country, so heavy import fees and taxes were applied to our account. When we were able to track down the paperwork to prove the booth was shipped out, several months had passed before it worked itself out. We could have saved ourselves the hassle of unpaid invoices and unneeded charges had we properly documented our shipment.
The experience taught us we didn’t know all there was to know when it comes to international shipping. There can always be surprises, so now when we ship internationally we are sure to research everything before making the shipment.