Budgeting for your first trade show can be a tough proposition, especially if you aren’t aware of all the various fees that may pop up. But don’t worry — we’ve got your back!

Here’s a list of the fees that often take most first-time exhibitors by surprise.

1. Drayage

Drayage refers to the service that includes delivery of materials onto the trade show floor and to the exhibit space, removal of empty crates, storage of crates during the show, returning of crates at the end of the show, and delivery of materials to the carrier loading area. It’s important to remember that this will be a two-way charge — incoming and outgoing. Drayage fees are usually calculated by the weight of product you’re moving from the loading dock to the show floor.

You might be thinking, “I’ll just save some money and move everything myself.” Unfortunately, this isn’t an option. Many trade shows require the use of union labor for drayage, and those that don’t still require you to pay drayage fees. There are also regulations that must be abided by when moving materials onto the show floor.

The good news — your exhibit house should be able to  provide you with all of the costs associated with drayage and some even handle the service itself. Selecting an exhibit house that works with you throughout  your trade show preparations, the show itself, and the aftermath can be extremely valuable to both new and seasoned exhibitors. We pride ourselves in being a one-stop shop offering a full range of services, as well as your trusted partner each step of the way.

Not only will we provide you with an accurate estimate of drayage fees, we have an abundance of resources and contacts available to alleviate many of the pressures that come with exhibiting.

2. Service Forms

Trade shows will provide exhibitors with a service kit, also known as an Exhibitor Kit, which includes show-related information and order forms for services provided by show management. Each exhibit will have varying needs, but the services offered could include labor, forklifts, electricity, rigging, plumbing, etc.

In regards to labor costs, try to hone in on the exact times you’ll require additional labor. For example, if you hire contractors to help you with booth setup before your materials have arrived, you’ll still be required to pay for those hours when they’re “standing around,” plus any overtime hours you end up needing them for.

3. Shipping

When it comes to the shipping and transportation of materials, it’s always best to prepare sooner rather than later. Doing so will help you avoid last-minute expedited shipping fees and any errors that may occur as a result. Often times errors or supply shortages aren’t realized until right before the show, so getting ahead in your preparations will be crucial to the success of your event (and not to mention your stress levels).

Working with a shipping company that specializes in trade shows can be advantageous because they understand the importance of timely delivery and will work with a sense of urgency. Other shipping companies may not realize that a delay of a couple hours can indirectly cost you more money in fees or overtime labor for contractors.

4. Missed Deadlines

Your Show Manual, Trade Show Contract, and Exhibitor Kit will provide you with important deadlines and schedules that you’ll need to adhere to when setting up and breaking down your booth.

For example, a trade show will often charge exhibitors 20% of their show handling fee if you miss the show’s move-in time. We recommend shipping to an advance warehouse whenever possible (usually available 10-14 days before the show date). Doing so will allow your shipments to be brought directly to the show floor, giving you an early start on setting up. It’s not uncommon for trucks to wait in line for hours on the show’s primary move-in day, causing unexpected delays and costs.

Being able to ask your exhibit house for different services based on your own capabilities and experience is vital to your trade show success. Feel free to contact us you have any questions about forms and fees. We’re always happy to assist and put you at ease when preparing for your show!