Advance Warehouse or Direct to Show Site?

Advance Warehouse or Direct to Show Site?

It’s a question that comes up over and over. You’ve got your exhibitor show kit, you’ve decided what you’re sending to the event, and now you have to decide if you’re shipping your booth to the Advance Warehouse or Direct to Show Site. There are reasons to send to both, not limited to but including time, money and ease. 

For ELITeXPO, our recommended choice will usually be Advance Warehouse when you have time. We do recommend you do the math when you are choosing one way over the other. You may think shipping direct to show is the cheaper way to go, however there are other things to consider.

What are the fees involved?
What kind of time frame do I have?
How much am I shipping in?
Will I be sending multiple shipments to the show?


I’ll open this up with an example. Handling rates for a show (taken from the General Contractor’s information):

Material Handling rates for – 

Advance Warehouse: $113.25 per 100 pounds

Advance Warehouse, Late Delivery past deadline: $141.75 per 100 pounds

Direct to Showsite: $108.25 per 100 pounds

At first look you think shipping your display Direct to Show is the way to go! However, when you factor in the shipping, that advantage is lost. Let’s say you are delivering to the Show on a Saturday. Usually, your shipping company will charge the same amount per pound for your shipment whether it is going to the Show or to an Advance Warehouse. However, when delivering to showsite, you may be paying up to $180.00 in extra services (Saturday Delivery, Convention Fee) on top of your per pound rate. In addition, you could be paying $65.00 per hour in waiting time while your trucker sits waiting for the Decorator to unload him.

Taking the rates and applying it to a 300 pound shipment –

Advance Warehouse

Material Handling: $113.25 x 3 = $339.75
Additional Freight Costs: None
Total: $339.75

Late Shipment to Advance Warehouse

Material Handling: $141.75 x 3 = $425.25
Additional Freight Costs: None
Total: $425.25

Direct to Show

Material Handling: $108.25 x 3 = $324.75
Additional Freight Costs: $180.00
Total: $504.75

In this case, shipping Direct to Show is more expensive even if you were to pay the Late to Advance fee. The weight plays into this math as well. Let’s look at a 3,000 pound shipment.

Advance Warehouse

Material Handling: $113.25 x 30 = $3397.50
Additional Freight Costs: None
Total: $3,397.50

Late Shipment to Advance Warehouse
Material Handling: $141.75 x 30 = $4252.50
Additional Freight Costs: None
Total: $4252.50

Direct to Show
Material Handling: $108.25 x 30 = $3247.50
Additional Freight Costs: $180.00
Total: $3,427.50

At 3,000 pounds, the pricing has shifted in favor of a Direct shipment vs Late to Advance, but it is still more cost effective to ship to Advance if you make the deadline. But even here the price is comparable for Advance as opposed to Direct. There is more to consider!

Time Frame

Time frame is important to consider on both ends. When will you be ready to ship your exhibit? When are you setting up your booth?

You may not want to fly your freight to save on drayage, as most likely that would be more money, and may not even be a choice. But on the other end, if you have labor setting up your booth and you ship direct, you would never want labor standing around on the clock waiting for the truck to be unloaded. Labor at showsite is charged by the man, by the hour and this may cost way more than the drayage savings.

Therefore even if the math comes out more by shipping to the Advance Warehouse, the advantage of having the freight there early and ready to set up may outweigh the dollars you save on the front end. It could even mean labor on Straight Time versus Overtime.

Multiple Shipments

One more thing to consider is, will you be sending multiple shipments to showsite? You may have your main booth ready to go, but are waiting on literature or giveaways to be produced. Calculating each shipment is important, as a 50 pound box will be received at either Advanced Warehouse or Direct to Show as its own minimum shipment – so you could end up paying $226.50 at the Advance Warehouse just to receive your Literature, if you send it separately on a different day than your booth! But it might make more sense to send your booth ahead to the warehouse, so it is there and waiting for your Labor crew, and pay the extra money to ship your literature by itself Direct to Showsite.

IN CONCLUSION: When you use ELITeXPO, this is the kind of stuff we think about and discuss with our clients. We know you may not have the time to “do the math” on all possible scenarios, but we are diligent in showing our clients that we will show you ways to save money. Not just in shipping costs, but the ripple effect shipping has on Material Handling and Labor, and even more importantly, on where your valued time is considered.

Our trade show freight services are unmatched and hundreds of clients use ELITeXPO for our excellent customer service. Let us help you with these decisions so you can spend more time on other aspects of your shows!