Ah, drayage. The word has been known to strike fear into the hearts of many an exhibitor. What is it? Why is it so expensive? What can be done to help the struggling masses of innocent companies victimized by its cruel and unrelenting path of destruction???

Fear not friends, RGo is here to help.

To overcome our enemy, we must first understand what the heck our enemy actually is. The term “drayage” describes the following actions, performed by the show’s General Contractor (GC) at all trade shows:

1. The GC will receive your exhibit from your trucking company at the show’s designated Advance Warehouse or on site after passing through the marshalling yard.

2. Forklift service is provided at the exhibit hall to unload your exhibit from the truck it was shipped in on.

3. Your exhibit is brought to your designated booth space from the loading dock.

4. Upon completion of your exhibit setup, after your team puts Empty Storage stickers on the crates/skids, forklifts will pick up these materials and bring them to what’s commonly referred to as “the bone yard” for storage during the show.

5. At the close of the show, the empty crates/skids will be brought back to your exhibit location so your labor team can dismantle and repack your exhibit.

6. Once dismantle is complete and your truck arrives to pick the exhibit up, the forklift team will bring the packed cases and skids to the truck and load it up so your truck can bring your exhibit to its next destination.

It’s amazing that such a small word can cause so much grief and be so complicated at the same time. However, what is important is that we understand exactly what’s involved in that task, as outlined above. It’s not a small amount of work by any means, which is why the costs can end up being so expensive.

So how do we overcome these costs? The most important thing to consider is weight, as the vast majority of drayage charges are calculated using this measurement.

Drayage costs are calculated by the hundred weight, or as it may be written out, “cwt”. For example, if your exhibit weighs 9,000lbs, that would be 90 cwts. To determine how many cwts you have and what the drayage cost will be, follow this simple formula:

• Total Exhibit Weight / 100lbs = Total cwts * Drayage Cost/cwt = Total Drayage Charge
• For example, if your exhibit weighed 9,000lbs and the drayage rate was $75/cwt, the formula and cost would be: 9,000lbs / 100lbs = 90 cwts * $75 = $6,750

As you can see and have most likely experienced, drayage adds up FAST. Because of this, it’s critical to keep your exhibit as light as possible. We’ve talked in depth about the benefits of fabric when it comes to weight, so if you haven’t already read our blog on that, please do so.

In addition to working with fabric to keep things light, there are other materials that can really lighten the load up.

If your exhibit requires metal, always insist on examining the cost option of using aluminum. Steel is typically about 2.5 times denser than aluminum. If you’ve got a big need for metal in your exhibit, such as with a deck, it’s definitely worth checking out the cost differences between the two. Although raw aluminum can be more expensive in certain instances than steel, more often than not the drayage factor will more than negate any cost benefit steel provides on the construction side. There are many other benefits seen when using aluminum over steel, but we’ll save that for a separate blog 😉

Another great way to help with weight and cost is to keep a close eye on what you’re really being charged for on show provided rental items. It’s a little reverse in thinking, but sometimes that bargain show carpet or rental table that “includes drayage” isn’t really the bargain it sounds like when you realize that a 15lb table may be pennies worth of drayage! At RGo we provide a wide range of rental items that are highly competitive with typical show rates, even when factoring in drayage costs!

Lastly, always make sure to take a good look at drayage rate changes when shipping to the Advance Warehouse vs. Direct to Show Site. Oftentimes drayage rates are reduced when shipping to the Advance Warehouse, as it allows for the General Contractor to more efficiently ship in exhibit properties to the show, allowing for cost reductions. However, at some shows, such as many at the Javits Center, the Advance Warehouse is so far away from the show that drayage rates are actually more than direct to show site rates. This is typically uncommon though, and more often than not, shipping to the Advance Warehouse will yield less drayage costs.

There are definitely more weapons in our arsenal to combat the drayage monster with, but we’re pretty sure you’ve read enough at this point and we don’t want to give away too many of our methods to the competition 🙂 Looks like you’re going to have to drop us a line at 888.508.0890 or email us to see what else we can do to help lower your event service costs at your next event!