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Save Money On Exhibiting By Limiting Drayage Costs

There are many costs associated with trade show exhibiting, but perhaps none are quite as inflated and onerous as the dreaded drayage charges. For the uninitiated, drayage is the local delivery of materials (typically within the same city or urban area). For trade show exhibitors this is everything from the various components of your trade show display to marketing materials and technology.

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CC Image courtesy of 401(K) 2012

The term drayage has its origins in the name of a kind of horse-pulled cart called a dray that was regularly used for short-distance shipping a few hundred years ago. Obviously, this was rendered obsolete and replaced with modern delivery trucks. Now, drayage services are used for everything from international shipping to coordinating the delivery of goods and materials for events that involve a large number of companies receiving shipments in a small area (such as a convention center during a trade show).

Working With Limited Options

In many trade show situations, the show organizers will require that you use a designated drayage service, instead of contracting with another company of your choice. The rationale for this is that it prevents dozens (or even hundreds of companies) clogging up the delivery facilities of the convention hall or hotel.

Unfortunately, this also means that you can’t easily find a cheaper option by going with a different vendor. Further compounding the cost-saving effort is the fact that a lot of show organizers will also require that you use the drayage services for anything beyond what you can easily carry without equipment. This sometimes precludes you from using even a small cart or dolly to bring in items yourself and lower your drayage bill, forcing you to be more creative to reduce drayage costs.

Less (Weight) Is More (Money In Your Pocket)

There are a few more creative ways to reduce your drayage bill for your next trade show, but the key is really relying on drayage for moving less materials and just limiting those materials overall.

There are many ways to do this. For example, you might cut down on the number of printed marketing materials that you bring for your trade show display. This will allow you to reduce the items you need to ship, without compromising the integrity of your exhibit design. In fact, switching to cards with your website and a QR code on them or using other digital means of conveying information can often create more interest.

If you need or want to have more printed materials but don’t want to pay the extra shipping and drayage costs to bring them in by the bundle, you could consider printing materials locally or even bringing your own printer in order to make them on-site. Again, it’s important to check with show organizers to see what the restrictions are (if any) on doing this.

Since drayage and other material shipping fees are based on the amount of weight that workers have to move from one place to another, it behooves you to take a deeper look at your exhibit design. Plan in advance to create a trade show display which is as light and versatile as possible. Improvements in metals, plastics and other materials mean that you can easily find components that will fit that bill. If you need help with this, don’t hesitate to contact us at Blazer Exhibits & Events.

Pay Attention To The Details To Save Even More

Although limiting the weight of items that you pay to have moved and shipped to your trade show display is ultimately the best way to reduce your drayage bills, there are also a whole host of other ways that you can save. Most of these involve understanding how these services levy additional charges and avoiding them if at all possible.

Since the cost of drayage is chiefly the cost of the labor to get your items from point A to point B, you want to make it as easy as possible for drayage professionals to get that job done. This may mean offloading some of the work onto you (or your employees), but in many cases this tactic can probably get it done cheaper than if you were to completely outsource the entire process of shipping, storage and drayage to another company (or series of companies).

Here are a few extra tips to save you time and money off of your drayage costs:

  1. Pay attention to weight minimums for shipments and never ship below those minimum amounts because you will always be charged for the higher minimum cost.

  2. What you ship in matters. Look into different materials and options for crates and other storage devices. The standard wooden shipping crate isn’t always the best option.

  3. Know the weight of your items ahead of time so that you can double-check any invoices and insure that you aren’t being overcharged.

When it’s all said and done, saving money on drayage (and other shipping costs) comes down to limiting the overall weight and materials that you are moving and knowing your items and the way they will be charged inside and out.

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