First up; the good news. Australia is now seeing more international shows – especially in the medical field – being held in venues across this great land. This is fab, it means a boost for our local industry and suppliers, brings cashed up delegates pouring money into economy and some kangaroos get patted.
The bad news: with international shows, brings international organisers and their way of doing things including their own suppliers. Nothing too evil in that but a number of the international organisers have tie ups with international logistics providers and this means heart stopping charges in relation to getting your stand and client gear off a truck and onto the show floor. By heart stopping I mean whatever you are paying now for forklifting to and from the truck and the stand and THEN the storage of your empty crates and road cases whilst the show is on, goes up by 3 or 4 times (or more) what you would normally pay an Australian provider to do. Now I won’t be riding Dobbin so hard if the international logistics providers were providing logistics labour that looked like Tom Morello or Josh Homme, turned up with Haighs chocolates and offered to do my ironing but the level of service is on par with what is experienced at non-international shows. So on a straight comparison on services provided by an international organiser tie up and the local services, there is no perceivable difference. And therefore, no reason that exhibitors and stand builders are being stung with charges 400% and beyond of what they normally pay for logistics services. GAH!
We have been pretty lucky in Australia that we have been immune to the rort otherwise known as drayage that our American eagle friends have to live with on a daily basis. Drayage is essentially the on site logistics handling services that get your gear on / off track and to / from your stand. With the prices you pay you would expect a team of white-gloved efficiency experts lovingly placing your goods on gold-edged flat-topped trolleys and then gently pushing them through the show aisles with the utmost care. But no. For costs that rival some countries GNP, you get some clapped out forklift driven by some bloke called Bubba get your gear to your stand sometime between “What? Never saw your gear lady…” and “I am on SMOKO”. Hell, they are always on smoko.
So with some many companies questioning the value of their exhibit program, we need these high logistics costs like a NRL player needs another sleeve tattoo. And I’m calling it as it is, it’s a rort, with kickbacks between the international organisers and the international logistics firms ensuring that the exhibitors and the service providers are getting billed way in excess of what they should. But it is just not enough to bang on about it in a blog post. Here are some tips to tackle this bullshit:
- Get in touch with the organisers and explain – perhaps with use of a map and a stuffed koala – that we are in Australia and we don’t do drayage.
- Write letters to the organisers and telling them the costs are outrageous and ask what the hell they are on about. People get all freaky with letters these days as so few people actually write them. We get all worked up about something, like a post on Facebook thinking that will bring effective change and then forget about it. But agitating for change takes work and we can’t be flakey about this. It takes work but if you are committed, you can make a difference.
- Demand a fixed price for the logistics services in writing. This really puts the international logistics provider on the spot as they like to issue a sliding scale of fees, based on another currency, with penalty rates added in that are all so complicated to figure out they assume that you will give up and sign off on anything. Be tenacious about this. This is your money they are siphoning off. Insist upon measuring your gear yourself, compact your delivery into a small enough footprint as possible (think of these Russian Dolls with stuff sleeved inside other stuff) and give them the two fingers by bringing in whatever you can via the carpark and your own hand trolley.
- Be pleasant about it but when on site ask the organisers why the charges are so high. Come at it from a curiosity point of view rather than white-hot anger that has the veins in your neck bulging as we are trying to get a positive outcome here, not an apprehended violence order issued against us.
Ok, so Dobbin and I have to move along as I feel compelled to tackle other issues like Christopher Pyne being…Christopher Pyne. In the meantime, add to add your suggestion in the comments section to tackling the wackness that is creep in of drayage across this great land.
And! Want to get your FREE 11 step checklist for awesome and stress free exhibitions and displays? Go here to get your immediate download.
Let’s end this rant on a happy vibe with a gorgeous slice of pop from LEN.
See you next week!