Trade Show TalesBlog

Trade Show Material Handling Calculator and Infographic

May 9th, 2017 2 COMMENTS

Drayage or Material Handling

Drayage or Material Handling CalculatorIf you are familiar with trade shows, you are all too familiar with material handling or drayage. These two terms, which mean the same thing, often elicit a very strong emotional response from exhibitors.

So what is drayage? Drayage refers to the movement of your trade show booth items from your carrier’s delivery vehicle to your booth space. This service includes:

  • Unloading the trade show freight once it has arrived at the receiving dock,
  • Transporting the goods to the trade show booth space,
  • Removing empty shipping items (such as crates and pallets) from the trade show booth space,
  • Ttemporarily storing empty shipping items during the show,
  • Returning empty shipping items once the show is over,
  • Transferring the freight back to the loading dock, and
  • Loading the items into your carrier’s delivery vehicle.

Is it expensive? Yes. Is there a logical reason? No. So, rather than age six months each time you receive your material handling bill, it might make more sense to manage your freight to minimize your bill. Use this drayage calculator to estimate your charges. Note how overtime and special handling will significantly increase what you pay.

If you are not already suicidal about drayage, this blog post from three years ago might be the tipping point. It discusses the rising cost of material handling:  You Can’t Fix Stupid — Material Handling.

Helpful Advice:  Although shipping to the Advanced Warehouse is more expensive, it’s a better financial decision since you are less likely to pay for waiting time from your carrier, and you have greater control over scheduling the delivery of your exhibit to your booth space during regular straight-time hours.

For an overview of material handling, see this informative infographic by TS Crew, an exhibit-appointed contractor for installation and dismantle.

Drayage Infographic


Classic Exhibits Inc. designs and manufacturers portable, modular, and custom-hybrid exhibit solutions. Classic Exhibits products are represented by an extensive distributor network in North America and in select International markets. For more information, contact us at 866-652-2100 or


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2 Responses to “Trade Show Material Handling Calculator and Infographic”

  1. I by no means am defending the high cost of ‘drayage’ and fully agree with the suggested ways to save money on material handling.
    Material handling in Europe and Asia is usually handled by your exhibit provider at show site. They deliver to site in their own trucks, unload themselves at site, deliver and unpack at site, pack empty crates back on their truck, hold offsite till show finishes, and then return to show site to repack. This service is not free, but probably cheaper than the drayage model.
    Next time you have a show in Europe ask your supplier what the cost was do do this. There will be a cost gap, but not as large as you may think.
    As long as American show organizers hire a show contractor to manage the site services, it will be hard to eliminate a material handling cost to meet the showtime deadlines. The average US show has 3-4 days to get the hall ready and begin set ups, more time is granted in Europe for this. The drayage model is more costly, but is more efficient to unload freight in an orderly way vs a free for all to get in first and begin a set up. Exhibitors need to push the show organizer to push the show contractor to recalculate the drayage model to help reduce costs here. Perhaps show organizers can raise the price of booth space to include a portion for material handling? Kinda like IMTS. Since organizers and contractors wish to maintain their profit expectations, it gets to be a difficult challenge, but somethings gotta give.

  2. Mel White says:

    Thank you for your explanation Larry. Good information.

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