Monday, June 16, 2008


Drayage....even if you haven't heard the word before, it seems a bit ominous by it's sound.

Drayage, or material handling, is the cost the general contractor of a trade show charges exhibitors to move goods from the dock to the exhibit space on the show floor. Charged by the hundred weight (CWT), it is a fee that grows as the weight and size of your exhibit grows.

To calculate CWT, take the total weight of your shipment and divide by 100. Multiply that number by the rate. For example, 4,200 pounds of a shipment equals 42 CWT. At a rate of $40/CWT, that works out to $1,680. Be aware that there are minimums, so that even the smallest FedEx box dropped at your booth counts as a shipment and will be charged. Note that there are different rates for show-site deliveries versus advanced warehouse shipments and crated versus skidded shipments.

If you are a company growing from a small, in-line portable exhibit (say, in a 10x10) to a 20x20 or larger, you need to be aware of these charges. If you are handling it for your company, be sure you understand the material handling form in your show packet and can describe your incoming shipments on those forms.

If your exhibit company is handling this for you, be sure and have them disclose the cost to you prior to the show, so that there are no surprises when the final bill comes and/or you can plan your pre-show budget appropriately.

Even better, if you are new to using a custom exhibit, have your exhibit company do a "total cost of program" estimate for all of your shows for the year so that you realize what the increased expense will be. Be sure and go through this exercise when you are building a new booth as it may impact how many and at what size you do shows.

Lesson learned: be wary and aware of the Drayage Monster.


Monday, June 9, 2008

Daily rates

It's up for discussion: how much should you pay (or be charged) to have someone as an on-site supervisor for a trade show?

This might be a specialized situation, but what I'm talking about is those cases where a company or program doesn't have a dedicated trade show manager or has a show conflict where you need a second pair of arms and legs to make sure things go well on set up, during the show and at the tear down.

Most freelancers or show houses charge $400 to $1,500 per day for an on-site supervisor, with the typical fee being $600 per day. The on-site supervisor does three things:

1. Supervises the labor for installation of the exhibit and management (on-site) of all of the service orders.
2. Manages the staff and company employees, helps manage the lead process and collects bills on site.
3. Is the go-to person when there are issues that have to be dealt with in real time at the show.

This is a lot to ask of anybody. Whether they are a freelancer or an employee of an exhibit company or other agency, here's why you are paying the fee:

1. For their expertise. Chances are they know your company, the people and your products and things will go smoother when you have this dedicated person on the floor with the staff.
2. You are taking them away from other work. Hey, they are out of circulation with other clients or projects. They belong to you for whatever days you have contracted for.
3. You are buying an insurance policy. When they are there, they are yours, it's their job, their only job. If something goes wrong, they can be there to fix it. But chances are, they have already solved it before you notice it.

Lesson learned: don't be afraid to pay for solid, knowledgeable talent and be sure to use them to the fullest extent.