While we understand drayage can be confusing and take up a large line in your invoice, we're here to help make things simpler and more cost-effective.

3 tips to reduce your drayage costs

We understand drayage can sometimes be confusing and take up a large line in your invoice, but exhibition booths and displays can often be very heavy projects that soak up a large amount of your budget.

While it’s difficult to completely avoid drayage, it’s possible to lower the cost as much as possible. It still remains a costly venture – that’s more often than not worth the price – but saving just a few dollars can make the difference between an exhibition being in the red or in the black.

1. Ship direct
Drayage is normally calculated by weight per 100 pounds, also referred to as CWT. According to the 2015 Exhibition and Event Industry Labor Rates Survey, drayage sent to the advance warehouse cost organizers $102.88 per CWT. This number has gone up substantially since 2011, where it clocked in at $83.51, Skyline Tradeshow Tips reported.

Shipping directly to the show site cost just $96.96 per CWT in 2015, and was $76.72 per uncrated CWT in 2011. There are advantages to paying the premium and shipping to the advanced warehouse such as knowing that your properties will be first on the floor.  However, if you do not need that service, take advantage of the difference in pricing by shipping all of the gear direct to show, instead of the advance warehouse. Either way, make sure that you understand your target dates and times in the show kit to avoid paying additional off-target surcharges.

Shipping your gear direct to show will save you money on drayage.Shipping your gear direct to the show will save you money on drayage.

2. Tone down printed materials
Exhibitor Online estimated that 80 percent of all promotional materials are thrown away by the end of the event. User engagement is best achieved digitally and through social media these days, and shipping flyers, business cards and any other items that may promote your event will only raise the cost of drayage.

It’s the digital age. Move your promotion online, to newsletters and to e-document delivery. Avoid high drayage costs by cutting down the amount of paper you’re sending to the event. Not only will you appreciate the high user engagement from moving online, but it will be nice not to have to look at your promotional pages in the trash at the end of the event. This is only contributing to climate change, even if it doesn’t seem so at the time. By shifting your promotions completely paperless, you can also add that your event is environmentally friendly.

3. Consolidate items
Think of the drayage process in literal terms. It’s going to take more effort for the handlers to move multiple loose items instead of a crate. As you create your exhibit with your event contractor, keep this in mind.

Substitute heavier items for lighter ones whenever possible. Use boxes and crates if you’re able to. Both of these will keep drayage fees down because handlers simply have less to deal with. Making their life easier can also help make yours easier. Also, uncrated items cost exponentially more to ship than crated.

Using these tips will ultimately leave a noticeable effect on your budget. If you find that your initial mark-up for drayage is a tad too high, consider implementing some of these tips into how you operate to bring that cost lower. While drayage is completely necessary for an event, it’s entirely possible to keep that price down below the industry average.

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