Cut Drayage Costs With These Helpful Tips

Understanding Drayage

Understanding drayage and how it is calculated can help you have a more successful trade show experience.

One of the most important concepts connected to the expo logistics world – drayage – is also one of the least understood. Drayage is the charge exhibitors at a trade show have to pay out to have their shipment sent from the dock or advanced warehouse to the show floor and back. It is one of the expenses companies should expect to pay when planning out a trade show – in fact, it can account for as much as 30% of total show charges. However, while it is unavoidable, there are a few steps you can take to reduce the costs associated with drayage, minimize problems and headaches, and maximize the ROI of your next trade show.

Understand Your Options

One thing to keep in mind as you plan for a trade show is that you have some options available to you when it comes to getting your materials to the show site. Shipping to the advanced warehouse is certainly the best fit for some companies and situations even though you will incur drayage fees while doing so. Shipping directly to the show site might be a better option, and despite its disadvantages, it will save you from paying those fees. Conducting a full analysis of your materials and the needs of your company will reveal which option is better for you. Don’t forget to take various deadlines into consideration – your materials will have to be shipped by certain date depending on the trade show location as well as whether you use direct-to-site or advanced warehouse/drayage.

Packaging Best Practices

  • Drayage costs are usually calculated at a rate per 100 pounds with a 200 pound minimum per package. So if you fill four packages at under 200 pounds, you may end up being charged more than if you filled two packages weighing over 200 pounds. You’ll want to ensure all of your materials are being shipped together in as few packages as possible to minimize your drayage fees.
  • Another great way to reduce these fees is to pack light. If you have been using an older booth, it may be time to consider upgrading to a more light-weight option, particularly since new technology has helped many companies travel light and reduce their drayage costs.
  • When packaging your shipment, ensure that everything is packed efficiently. If your packages need to be handled with special care, they will be subject to an additional handling fee that could range up to 30% over the standard drayage rate. Use pallets and crates and pay special attention to your packaging to avoid being charged this additional fee.

Completion of the Bill of Lading

A bill of lading is required paperwork for exhibits moving in or out of a show site, so it’s important to make certain it is filled out completely and accurately. Because drayage fees are based on the actual weight of the shipment, you’ll have to be accurate to avoid the chance of overestimation when the fee is determined – the decorators use this document to determine the charge. In addition, if the form is not filled out completely, the decorator may not release your shipment to the carrier after the show, creating a situation known as forced freight. This could potentially cost you much more money in additional drayage fees later.

Before Shipping, Check Again

Do a last-minute check before your shipment is picked up by the carrier. Your packages should be labeled with important information such as show name, booth name, and booth number so that they all arrive at their final destination smoothly. And at the end of your show, review your preliminary invoice prior to leaving. It is very difficult to make changes to your shipment after you leave the floor, so a quick check can potentially save you money and a few headaches!

AFP Expo Logistics

For the highest-quality logistics handling experience that will be customized to the unique needs of your business, AFP Expo Logistics is the best and only choice! We offer a comprehensive range of shipping services, and our 25 years of experience in the business have given us the tools we need to create personalized logistic solutions for each and every individual customer. For more information or to start designing your own logistic solutions today, get in touch with AFP Expo Logistics at 410.590.1234 (toll-free 800.274.1237), email us at, or fill out our quick and easy contact form here!

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