Journey of a Tradeshow Setup

November 2, 2023

By Owen Hurst

For those of us who frequent the tradeshow circuit you are well accustomed to both the amazing opportunities that shows can offer, but also the logistical issues that can arise.

Recently I enjoyed the fun of shipping my tradeshow setup for a show in the southern US that ended up turning into a nightmare that saw my setup go between Canada and the US twice, result in two tradeshows without our setup, and in the end getting it back with the packaging looking like it had been through a mulcher. Thankfully a thick case and wrapping preserved the contents without damage.

As a different approach for editorial, I thought it would be interesting to show the journey of our tradeshows set. It is not a unique situation; I have heard very similar stories many times. Do you have a unique story, or have you found a solution that always works? Let us know!

But now to the journey.

It started when I thought I was saving myself some trouble by shipping the setup rather than checking it, which I typically avoid at all costs.

As most package shipping starts things went fine in the beginning. The package was picked up and by the second evening tracking showed it leaving Canada and on its way to the US, well within the timeframe to make it.

However, this is where the wheels started to fall off. Although tracking showed it going to Michigan on a Saturday evening it appears to have either been an error, or it did make it there and then was sent back to Woodbridge, Ontario where tracking says it was ‘On the way’, although that is the same message from Woodbridge we received Monday through to Friday.

The show was mid-week, so our calls began on Tuesday. They couldn’t find the package, so we instructed that when they did to simply return to sender, it was already too late. Of course, they tried to assure us it would get there, but I didn’t want it to finally show up when I was back in Canada and get further stuck.

On that Tuesday we requested it be returned as it was still in Canada. Although we requested this on Tuesday it somehow was shipped down to Chicago that Friday, and then on the Saturday, after calling again wondering why it was going south when I needed it back for another tradeshow, I was told a mistake was made and they finally put a note in the file to return to sender.

The Journey

The Return

It finally arrived back 2 weeks after it began its rather slow and long journey. And keep in mind this weighs 36lbs, so I question how much weight really matters after seeing them not overly concerned with sending in and out of the US. But it was returned and although the packaging and the case was destroyed it did protect the actual booth setup.

And I must admit it was not an all-bad experience. On one call when I was very frustrated that it was sent to Chicago, I got a wonderful person that was very helpful and kept me on the line while they made direct warehouse calls to have my package found. She was incredible and I am sure it is thanks to her that I even saw it again.

Of course, in the end it is just a tradeshow setup and life will go on, but it certainly can cause stress, especially if you travel the circuit and have dealt with this many times.

So again, if you have a fun tradeshow story, or have had similar issues and found a better solution please share it, we all want to know!

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