Trade Show Shipping, What's the real cost?

Trade Show Shipping

Every business owner knows that the best way to grow your sales is to get your business name out there and your products into the hands of potential customers. One of the best ways to accomplish this is to attend a Trade Show or Expo in your industry. The investment you make in a trade shows can be substantial. By the time it's said and done, you're likely to have spent thousands of dollars including the cost of trade show freight.

Shipping to your next trade show
  • Floor Space: $300 - $5,500
  • Booth Equipment: $300 - $1,500
  • Travel Expenses: $300 - $1,000+
  • Samples: $100 - $1,000+
  • Brochures: $100 - $400
  • Trade Show Freight: $200 - $700 

Estimated Total:  $1,300 - $10,000+


Just last week, while walking an expo, I met a single sales-man behind a booth. After some small talk about his products, I mentioned that I manage freight and logistics. As it turns out, the reason he looked so tired that day was because the shipment with all of his booth equipment, brochures, banners and samples never arrived at the trade show. He was up hustling at 4AM that morning, frantically putting together materials to substitute everything that was lost. He did a great job, the displays came together! No one would ever guess what had happened. This does beg the question though: what is the real cost of shipping trade show freight?

When planning in advance, great care is taken to make sure you have an attractive display along with enough materials and samples. Usually, items are packed onto pallets and shipped out before the event. When the materials don't arrive on schedule, what effect does the stress and chaos have on performance? With expectations high, long days of constant interaction with potential prospects, and all the money invested in promotion, it's an innoportune time to have your freight get lost. After the investment you've made to be there, your shipment needs to arrive on-time!  


Trade Show shipping is handled differently from other types of freight. Carriers need to be notified of the shipment type in advance. They will carefully follow the proceedures and timelines outlined by the event coordinators. The additional labor and storage expenses should always be included in your freight shipping quote. Here are a few more things that should be considered to ensure your delivery makes it on time.

  • Allow a few extra days for transit
  • Keep eyes on your shipment every day - make sure it's moving. 
  • Make sure storage until the appropriate delivery day and time is included in your quote
  • 3PL experts can help manage load-in, load-out moves
  • Always request realtime tracking, proactive status & delivery notifications  

These shipments are unique, so it can be risky to use someone who advertises the absolute cheapest price. Those savings are minor compared to the investment in the show. Don't take a chance that could result in lost pallets, damaged goods, or late deliveries. 

For help, Download our trade show quote checklist



Trade shows are a fantastic way to grow your business! It's a valuable investment and the delivery of your goods and materials should not be left to chance. Consider using an experienced logistics professional to manage the on time delivery for trade shows. If possible, make it someone that you trust so that you can focus on what you do best! 

Winning business is critical to your success. It's critical for us, too. That's why we offer guaranteed services and a committed team of specialists who are on call after-hours and on weekends. Our team can create a precise transportation plan for your needs and will provide the customer service you demand. Your urgent needs are ours as well.

Do you have any questions about freight or new suggestions for blog topics?