Here’s Something To Be Excited About: Changes To Freeman’s Material Handling Fees!

The 2020 coronavirus shut down has had an unanticipated positive effect within the trade show industry. One such effect that was recently announced by Freeman, the world’s largest Show Organizer –   Freeman has significantly streamlined how Material Handling fees will be calculated moving forward.

Freeman announced a simplified fee structure to move away from the many contingencies that can catch less savvy exhibitors off-guard. Now, Freeman will simply charge one flat rate per 1 pound of freight shipped to your booth space, regardless of whether you choose to ship early to Advance Warehouse or later Direct to Show.

Prices seem to be in the same ballpark as they were previously, however, they have simplified them in a way that makes it much more possible for exhibitors to understand what they will be paying. This transparency will allow exhibitors and EAC’s to more accurately estimate and budget for an upcoming show.


So, what was the old Freeman situational policy?

In the past, there were numerous conditional situations that could add additional fees to your Freeman Material Handling bill. The larger your booth, the more significant difference this could make in the final amount you pay under these conditional situations.

One such situation pertained to how your freight was packed. In the past, if the dock workers somewhat subjectively concluded that your freight was not properly crated or shrink-wrapped, they could mark your incoming freight as special handling. Special handling would typically add 30% more to your material handling bill, which could amount to thousands of dollars.

Another such situation dealt with how your freight was delivered. In the past you might pay more per pound if you shipped your freight to advance warehouse. Now, the price will be the same either way. This change benefits Freeman too, as it is better to receive the majority of freight early, reducing congestion during your booth install. You pay less to ship to Advance Warehouse, and we all deal with less install congestion.

It’s understandable how exhibitors have felt tricked by small print, but these changes will help to facilitate trust and a more positive trade show experience. Many of us are watching to see if Freeman’s competitors will follow suit.


Influencing Other General Contractors

GES, the second largest Trade Show General Contractor, recently implemented a hugely confusing way of charging for overtime handling. This new Material Handling policy bases the rate at which you’re charged on the time they decide to move your freight from the warehouse to the show hall. So, if GES decided to move your freight from the advance warehouse to the show hall at midnight, then your entire material handling bill would be slapped with an overtime rate of charge. Regardless of what time of day you delivered it to them or what time of day you return to collect your freight after the show.


We hope to see GES follow Freeman’s lead on simplifying material handling charges. This transparency does a lot of good for our entire industry and removes some of the mystery and fear of exhibiting at US trade shows. Very often we find ourselves arguing with the general contractor, on our clients behalf, to remove many of these unplanned charges, with little success.

We are relieved to see Freeman making changes to how they will charge material handling. Changes that rightfully move us closer to how shows are done in other countries, as a huge percentage of exhibitors are coming from outside of the US. Now more than ever, it makes sense to recognize that we are competing for event dominance in a world market. Singapore, Hong Kong, Macau, Shanghai, and Dubai would love to take our place.

It’s no secret that trade shows notoriously have a history of what seem to be extra fees and hidden charges that are not disputable. This material handling news from Freeman is one such example of how the exhibit industry is looking inward to improve and provide a more streamlined and straightforward trade show experience.

The US is the world’s leading destination for major international trade shows. Coronavirus has helped us remember this, and given us some downtime to develop and implement changes that keep the US the top business destination.

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