Where Are My Crates?

Ever wonder why it takes so long to get your empty crates back to your booth at the end of your event, or why they get so banged up when you do get them back? If you don’t go to shows or ever step outside of the show hall then you would never see the pile of empty crates that often sit OUTSIDE stacked one on top of another. They must be stored somewhere during the show, and while at a recent show in Las Vegas (where it rained one day) this pile of crates sitting outside caught my eye. The one with the PINK label is one of ours, and it’s on the very bottom. I also found another from the same booth further down the pile, and on the bottom as well.

Do you think a fork lift driver moving and stacking empty crates really worries about handing these crates with care while there is nothing inside to damage? Nope. Do you think those folk lift drivers will report when their forks miss the bottom of the crate or one falls off the pile? Nope. Now I have nothing personal against fork lift operators, but not everyone is as skillful and careful as we would like them to be with our tradeshow crates. Crates can suffer the most abuse when they are being handled with nothing inside of them, and this can affect the longevity of that crate when damage to it occurs. Even the best, well-built crates are subject to the hazards of empty storage and material handling, so please keep this in mind before assuming that the carrier who last touched your shipment, didn’t handle it with care.

-Brad Jarzemski / ELITeXPO Account Executive

Pre & Post Show Shipping Tips

Entering my 27th year in the Trade Show industry and having spent many a day (and night) on a show floor checking in freight and examining shipments piece counts and inspecting for damage, there are some basic things you can do to prevent possible situations down the line once your Trade Show freight leaves your facility.

When shipping your freight from your office, warehouse facility or show site to show site, it is always best to itemize and manifest what you are shipping (unless it is one self-contained crate), and send this to the person that will be on-site for you to confirm upon arrival. That manifest should contain a piece number and description of contents and type/size/color description. If you are skidding materials and shrink wrapping the skid, we recommend that you always individually label each piece so if for any reason the skid is broken down it will be easier to find a loose piece at the agent’s dock or on show site. We also recommend you take a picture of the freight before it is picked up so you have that for your records as well.

Upon your arrival at your booth space in the Convention Center, inspect your freight before unwrapping the shrink wrap or opening cases or crates. If there is any visible damage we highly advise you to take pictures and then report it to the Decorator and obtain a copy of the proof of delivery and scan it for any exceptions. If you freight arrived at show site (Or advance receiving) and was signed off free and clear, chances are the damage may have occurred on-site or being taken to your booth or when moved from the Advance warehouse to show site.  If it was signed off for with any damage noted, please contact us immediately.

When the show is over, we also recommend you keep handy, a copy of your MHA and take a picture of your freight before you leave show site. Again, please make sure you have enough labels to label ALL your freight, even if skidded and shrink wrapped.

Lastly, here at ELITeXPO we are always shipping via the most trusted partners, but occasionally skidded shipments may be broken down or damage may occur in transit. Therefore, we always recommend you purchase our “All-Risk” Shipping Insurance. This covers your shipment from the time it is picked up at your facility until the time it is returned to you, even when it is out of our possession.  This is the broadest and best possible form of cargo coverage available in the industry. There is typically no deductible and reimburses full freight and insurance costs as well as damage. Please ask your ELITeXPO Sales professional for more information.

-Michael Reed / ELITeXPO Show Management

Hit the Ground Running!

What is the last day I can ship ground and still make service?

I am asked this question all the time when planning for event logistics, and my answer to this question always comes with options. My objective is to provide the safest and most economical option first, and then adjust based on our client’s schedule and/or requirements. I always start with the due by or on date and work backwards. If the show you are going to has an advanced receiving location I will use the deadline date to avoid late fees as my deliver by date. If going direct to show site then the first day of receiving is our delivery date. Depending on the date you can be ready will affect which option is best, if the first option may not work for your schedule. For example, sometimes shipping late the advance warehouse is more economical then shipping direct to show site.

The distance between pickup location, delivery location, day of the week and if either location is outside of a major city airport terminal will affect how long standard ground services my take. Although ground shipments do not fly on aircraft, truck schedules work in a very similar way that air travel works for passengers. Your shipment needs to move from your location to the city terminal, which is often close to the major city airport terminal you would fly out of. Then your shipment will move on a truck with other shipments to the delivery terminal sometimes making a stop in the same way airlines have connecting flights. Once your shipment arrives the delivery terminal (which again is often located by a major city destination airport) it will be recovered and scheduled for delivery on the next regular driver schedule.

Unlike air travel ground services takes days vs hours. Plus, there are normal delays that are caused by increased freight volumes, driver absences, mechanical issues, weather and/or road traffic that can add an extra day or two to a regular ground schedule. In order to plan how many days, you should give yourself to ship your items please try this formula if you have traveled by air before. If it takes you one hour or less to fly between two cities take 1 add 4 and give yourself 5 business days for shipping. If it takes you two hours or less to fly between these two cities take 2 add 4 and give yourself 6 business days. If it takes 3 hours or more add 4 and give yourself 7 business days.

Now most places that you can fly to in an hours’ time are likely places that would be serviced on the ground in one or two days. However, if a shipment doesn’t make the first truck, connects or gets in later than expected due to any number of the normal hazards I’ve mentioned above then it’s subject to the risk of increased costs and/or missing the intended date. Giving yourself, extra time is the best way to avoid added cost or risk to any shipment you are planning, and if you’d rather ask then using this formula please don’t hesitate to ask us.

-Brad Jarzemski / ELITeXPO Account Executive