Hotel fees for storage and handling of incoming and outgoing packages vary widely and may be well worth your attention in thestage if you have a lot of shipments coming in. Typically, hotels waive handling and storage fees for five or six boxes related to an event but charge after that. One 20 lb. box can cost from $1 to $30 per day for storage and handling when it arrives, and the same when it's shipped home. While these fees should be reasonable, they're not necessarily a bad thing. Most planners are willing to pay something to assure that there are systems in place to handle packages professionally and to know that there's accountability in the shipping department.
Probably the most important shipping rule is to put a piece count on your labels: “1 of 8,” “2 of 8,” “3 of 8,” etc. It also helps to add the name and date of the meeting and a contact phone number. Another good idea: Put two labels on every box. It makes identification easier in the warehouse. And be sure to rip off any old labels completely before putting on the new ones. Electronic scanners will read bar codes on old labels.
Don't pack boxes that are too heavy for you to lift yourself. Heavy boxes get dropped. Consider plastic containers rather than cardboard. They stack well, have handles, and the corners won't dent. Plus, they're reusable.
For events to which attendees are bringing skis, golf clubs, or other large items that could mean significant extra baggage fees from the airline — or if you just want to add a little ease to your VIPs' travel plans — consider third-party luggage-handling companies. Luggage Express, Luggage Free, Luggage Forward, and Sports Express are among the companies that pick up luggage and/or gear from travelers' homes or offices and deliver it to their destination.
International shipping issues deserve a book of their own. Visit “Shipping 101” for full coverage of the world of customs brokers and freight forwarders, in which shipping schedules, packing requirements, and other customs documentation can make or break your meeting. One piece of advice to emphasize: Work with a customs broker or freight forwarder that has experience in the country in which your event will be held. Each country has unique rules for bringing in goods for meetings and trade shows, and an experienced partner can not only ensure that your packages make it into the country in a timely fashion but also that you pay the minimum possible duties and taxes.