Tradeshow Shipping


Exhibit City News

This article was originally published in the January/February Issue of Exhibit City News and is reprinted below with permission. Jason Olinger of YRC Freight was interviewed and shared his insight into the complexities of tradeshow shipping. Special thanks to the editorial team at Exhibit City News for keeping the pulse on the tradeshow industry.



by Amber Johnson, Exhibit City News

As company belts tighten and exhibit managers search for ways to cut costs, the low-hanging fruit is often transportation – namely what a company spends to move freight to and from a trade show. After all, shipping costs are padded with plenty of luxury and convenience items like air-ride trucks, free storage, and hired logistics professionals, and trimming those costs won’t impact the customer, right?

Well, not so fast.

The reality is that you get what you pay for, shipping experts say, and hiring a budget-priced common carrier or handling all the logistics in-house might seem to save money on the front end but, in fact, can end up costing a program much more in the end.


  • Because tradeshow shipping is a unique animal, unlike any other in the freight moving universe, and there are 1,000 ways for it to go wrong.
  • The unaware, the ill-prepared, and the time-strapped are often headed for disaster which, at best, can mean spending thousands on penalties or repairs, and at worst can mean not having an exhibit for the show at all.

Exhibit Shipping

“Shipping for tradeshows is very complex. It’s probably the most complex kind of shipping there is. It’s so important to hire someone who understands the rules of engagement for tradeshows and specializes in them.”
— Jason Olinger, Exhibit Services Director, YRC Freight Inc.

Navigating advanced receiving warehouses or targeted move-in dates, marshaling yards, loading docks, and where to be when can come as an unpleasant surprise for a trucker not skilled at the tradeshow grind.

“The time windows are extremely tight,” Olinger says. “If someone chooses a carrier that doesn’t understand the rules, they might get there at the wrong time and then have to wait all day. Drivers may be very unhappy if they show up and don’t understand that they have to sit in line for seven or eight hours.”

That estimate for wait time probably wasn’t included in the low-budget quote, but it almost certainly won’t be free either. Detention charges – times when a truck is sitting and waiting – can top $1,000 a day from some carriers, Olinger says, and he’s seen it happen.

Exhibit Shipping

There are fines and fees from show organizers, too, for shipments that arrive too soon and too late, and if freight isn’t picked up on schedule after the show, it will become forced freight cost to the exhibitor.

Indeed, transporting goods on schedule and navigating the marshaling yard and loading docks of a tradeshow is like threading a needle, and somebody somewhere along the way needs to have perfect vision if it’s going to go well.

Exhibitors trust YRC Freight to ship their trade show booths.

Our dedicated Exhibit Services team is ready to tailor the perfect transportation solutions for your shipment.

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