The Super Show Finds Flat-fee Drayage a Hit

Overtime charges, special handling fees, outrageous small package delivery charges, late penalties at the warehouse…it’s the little things that get exhibitors down. So The Super Show, an annual 80,000-attendee, 2,500-exhibitor sports product and apparel trade and marketing event owned by the Sports Manufacturers Association and managed by Communications & Show Management, Inc., decided to implement a flat-fee-per-booth drayage program for The Super Show/s0-01 that would eliminate those niggling extra charges exhibitors love to hate.

The result was an all-inclusive package that was designed to eliminate charges by weight and all extra charges related to moving freight from the loading dock to a booth and back. Instead of incurring additional charges for loose and uncrated material, overtime charges, and charges for small-package delivery to the booth, exhibitors found no extra charges or hidden costs on their final bill—in fact, there was no final bill and no paperwork on site, because all drayage was prepaid. They also were charged per booth, not per weight, and they weren’t charged for using carriers other than the preferred one. There were two main pricing plans: one for the small-sized exhibitor (10 x 10-foot and 10 x 20-foot booths) and another for anything three booths or bigger.

Hardy Katz, The Super Show’s director, says the first hurdle was to find a contractor willing to handle drayage on a per-booth basis: The winner was SHOW BIZ USA, based in Chicago. Show management also had to find a service contractor willing to work with them without handling the drayage piece. The Expo Group out of Dallas jumped on board and, as Katz says, "The synergy between Show Biz USA and the Expo Group made the program work very well." Dutch Antonisse, executive vice president of The Expo Group, remarks, "If it wasn’t for the different colors of shirts employees of the two different companies were wearing, you’d never know there were two companies there."

Besides working with a new drayage plan and new contractors, The Super Show went to The Sands Expo Center in Las Vegas for the first time after a long run in Atlanta. "It was a little scary for us," Katz says. "We had about 10,000 booths, so it was a real challenge to go to a new building in a new city and not have any problems." But everything worked out: They even beat the moveout time by several hours on a two-day moveout. Michael Hogan, CEO of Show Biz USA, says that even the unions like the all-inclusive plan because no one can blame them for add-on fees. "I think you’re going to see a lot more of this in the future; every show in the country could take advantage of this type of plan," says Hogan, who also organizes two expos.

But did exhibitors walk away happy? Oh yeah. "Some exhibitors saved up to $25,000, and overall exhibitors saved more than $800,000," says Katz, adding that the show has signed up The Expo Group and SHOW BIZ USA for the next two years. "There’ll be a little tweaking to do, as there is with any first-year plan, but everything went very, very well."