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The Value of a Trade Show Crate

When reviewing the total cost of new exhibits, a frequent hiccup in otherwise smooth pricing reviews is when the buyer bumps into the expense of ‘Crating’.  Sometimes referred to as ‘cases’ or ‘packaging.’ It is one thing for a buyer to spend money on the exhibit since it will pay for itself many, many times over.  But why are the darn crates so much?

In layman’s terms a properly designed Exhibit case will take all of the following into account:

External materials that make up the bulk of the crate Wood, metal, pressboard, vinyl, blow molded plastic, fiber could all be used in a crate. Can it be shipped to certain countries that ban certain materials?

Interior surface(s) that come into contact with your assets Some cases will be lined to protect what you are transporting inside the crate. The flexibility of materials may be needed to separate or stabilize the contents.

The individual item packaging that will be inside Even on smaller rolling cases, will there be protruding straps, pull tags or buttons that could get damaged by exposed hardware on a case’s interior?

How the various pieces and parts of the crating are held together A crate “banged together” with nails is likely less costly than one with brass fittings covered in protective rubber.  Do you need a crate that is airtight or could a cagelike structure meet your shipping requirement?

The security aspects of the crate Are their handles?  Hasp locks? Would it be helpful to have an embedded chip inside the case that can radiate its GPS location in the event your crate gets lost?

How will it be transported? Will the crate be rolled, lifted, moved, or shoved, by humans or by forklifts? The weight of the case itself can sometimes be considerable. Now add the contents.  Are polyurethane wheels needed or would minimal plastic ones be OK?  Does it need casters?  Does it need forklift access from 4 sides or are 2 ok?

How will the case be helpful for the at-show experience? It’s helpful to minimize labor costs and avoid your staff resenting you, so facilitate the unpacking and repacking experience by remembering grandma who said: “a place for everything and everything in its place!” There are certain exhibit systems that pack into a crate that can be used as a table stand during the show to maximize effectiveness.

The degree to which it is customized to meet specific placement of specific items With the placement of items in mind, remember that a crate that is designed for placement of specific items will cost more than a crate of equal size that is just a big open ‘tub.’

The usage expectation If an item only has to ship to your facility and its being displayed on-site instead of at events and shows, then in most cases alternative and minimal crating can be utilized instead of tying up valuable money in something that won’t be needed in the future.

Most importantly, what you are buying is a system to protect what is inside.  Your exhibit assets go on a horrendous journey once they leave the loving care of your office or exhibit house storage facility. From trucks to planes, ships or warehouse transfer facilities, they are manhandled, pallet-jacked and forklifted  – and that’s before your show’s general contractor gets their caring kid gloves on them!  Pity the poor case that is on the bottom of a 20’ stack of “empties” during the show and further victimized by the race to dismantle after the show.  Be safe – Pack Smart!

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Trade Show Planning Timeline (PDF)

Download this all-in-one trade show planning timeline to keep track of your trade show deadlines. Our timeline includes exhibit design & build tasks, technology considerations, pre-show promotions, booth staff tasks, lead management and miscellaneous items. Also included is; budget planning information, a booth staff schedule, typical show services deadline list and a budget calculator perfect for trade show veterans and those newer to the industry.

About the Author

Steve Hoffman, President of Skyline Exhibits & Design, Inc. has spent almost 30 years in the selling and marketing of marketing products. Following a successful career in the TV Program Syndication business, he joined The Holt Group/Skyline Displays as a Marketing Consultant, then moved into management, ultimately purchasing a portion of that company. He is the author of “The Reality of B.S. (Big Sales…That Is).” Steve is dedicated to helping his South Carolina trade show displays clients achieve their worldwide exhibit marketing goals while improving their efficiencies, too.

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