What Truckers Need to Know About Hauling Freight to and from Trade Shows?

Last week, we found ourselves in the Dallas, Texas area searching for freight opportunities. Operating in the flatbed/step deck space prompts the question, “Why were you in that area in the first place?” since it’s not known for abundant outgoing freight. Our goal was to head back east, focusing our efforts on the southeast region during the slower winter season. Unexpectedly, we secured an opportunity to transport freight destined for a convention center in New Orleans, which we gladly accepted. However, not realizing it was destined for a trade show, we ended up sacrificing not only our Thursday but also our Friday.

Hauling a boom lift, along with smaller man lifts/platform lifts, seemed routine when we picked them up on Wednesday. However, the delivery wasn’t scheduled until Friday. This lack of experience in delivering to trade shows led us to understand the unique challenges and time constraints associated with such events. Beyond the low payment rates for loads out of Texas, around $2 per mile or even less, we thought securing a load around $2.75 was a win. Here are some key considerations for carriers when hauling freight to and from trade shows:

  1. Time Management:
    • When dealing with shippers or brokers, consider the time required for loading and unloading.
    • Unloading typically takes longer due to the rush during loading, especially when events are back-to-back.
  2. Documentation:
    • Ensure the driver has the correct paperwork; lacking it can cause delays in obtaining a number for delivery.
  3. Directions and Planning:
    • Have accurate directions to the marshalling yard and convention center.
    • Pre-plan your trip to verify the provided directions and avoid surprises like ending up in a residential neighborhood, as we did.
  4. Waiting Time:
    • Be prepared for extended wait times, especially at the marshalling yard.
    • Delays in paperwork processing and booth number identification can add significant waiting time.
  5. Communication and Compensation:
    • Effective communication with brokers or customers is crucial.
    • Negotiate rates considering the extra time spent waiting; layover rates typically range between $200-$500.
  6. Detention Time:
    • Detention time is typically charged after the first 2-3 hours, often between $50-$70 per hour.
    • Establish clear company policies on detention and layover, particularly when dealing with brokers.

In conclusion, our experience taught us valuable lessons. We share this to inform fellow carriers, shippers, and brokers about the nuances of hauling freight to trade shows. Effective communication, well-defined policies, and contractual agreements are vital to avoid potential issues and keep carriers satisfied. Our involvement in putting together the 2024 ARA show in New Orleans was humbling, and we’re grateful for the experience. Keep on trucking!

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