Drayage And Material Handling

Understand the term drayage/material handling and how it affects your spend for your next trade show.

What is Drayage? Trade Shows | Conventions

Simply stated, drayage is the cost to bring your materials into a convention hall. Drayage is an industry term typically used when referencing freight/logistics. As an exhibitor or event manager, you’ll find it’s used very often when shipping your materials to a convention center.

Drayage is also referred to as “Material Handling” by show decorators such as GES, Freeman, etc. How do these show decorators determine that cost? There are a number of factors that will influence cost to bring your materials from your freight truck to your booth. Typically, you get charged ‘X’ for every 100 pounds of material.

Advanced Warehouse vs Direct-to-Show
Costs vary based on  how  you ship your materials to the show and  when  you ship them to the show. When shipping to advanced warehouse the drayage rate per 100lbs will be more expensive and you must send your items 2-3 weeks before the show opens. However, there are some major benefits when shipping this way.

ADVANCED WAREHOUSE: Shipping to advanced warehouse will ensure your pallets, crates, etc. will be one of the first items to arrive on the show floor. This is especially important when you have a more complex exhibit and need to get a jump on your build. Even more, this will give you some buffer room should you have any issues during transportation.

Also, you’ll avoid paying your truck driver the additional hourly rate for significant wait time that most shows carry. You can expect several hours (4+) at shows like CES, Toy Fair, NYCC, etc.

DIRECT-TO-SHOW: This is exactly how it sounds. You’re shipping your items directly to the show on your targeted move-in time. You’ll receive a targeted move-in time for your booth space depending on where you’re located in the hall.

Shipping direct-to-show is a slightly riskier way to bring your materials to a trade show. Why? Because there is no guaranteed time for when you’ll get your exhibit materials to your booth. It could be an hour after check-in or or several hours after. Also, it’s riskier if you finally get an item and discover damage. This gives you little time to problem solve.

Of course, on the plus side you’ll save money on your drayage rate.

How You Ship Your Items to the Show
Usually, you have the following classifications:

  • Crated or Skidded
  • Special Handling
  • Carpet and/or Pad
  • Uncrated

See below example rates for NY Toy Fair. This comes from Freeman’s exhibitor manual for the Javits Convention Center.



    √ Consolidate your materials onto one pallet or crate as much as possible
    √  Find out if your show offers “drayage assistance”
    √  Find out if your show offers a POV program
    √  Do not send individual boxes. Send them to your hotel instead.

If you still need help understanding these terms and the process do not hesitate to reach out to one of our experienced account managers. We’re here to help your exhibition display standout from the competition and maximize your spend.

Trade Show & Event Marketing eBooks

Download any one of our useful Ebooks. They’re designed to help you with your overall marketing efforts when planning your next experience.

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Marketing Genome is the leading provider of lightweight modular trade show booth exhibits and displays. Our versatile system allows the use of SEG fabrics, hard panels, curved walls, and illuminated graphics. Endless configurations allow you to expand or reduce your footprint.

We are strategically located on both East and West Coasts, saving our clients on costly shipping charges.

We use the lightest exhibit materials in the industry to cut weight and save on drayage costs

Our trade show displays consistently boost clients revenue, increase leads and skyrocket brand awareness.

Just storing booth materials can be expensive. If you choose to rent an exhibit, those costs virtually disappear.

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Strategic placement on the East and West coast guarantees Marketing Genome can handle any trade show display … anywhere.

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Simply reach out, and one of our expert marketing consultants will get on the phone for a complimentary brainstorm and evaluation session to find out how we can help you with your next trade show display.

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