How to Ship to a Trade Show in Orlando: Best Practices

Get the best advice on how to ship to a trade show in Orlando from industry leaders. Our experts have the guidance you need....
Joe Weaver
November 16, 2023
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Considering the popularity of the fast-growing city as a trade show destination, knowing how to ship to a trade show in Orlando is important for vendors. One of the biggest challenges? Finding the right shipping partner who can handle the nuances of trade show logistics, ensuring your trade show supplies arrive in pristine condition.

The International Association of Exhibitions and Events (IAEE) indicates that shipping to trade shows in Orlando, Florida requires the following:

  • Careful planning
  • A reputable logistics partner
  • Secure packaging
  • Scheduling shipments

Always have a backup plan in case of delays, given the Sunshine State’s tendency toward powerful storms.

How to Ship to a Trade Show in Orlando, FL: Trade Show Logistics

An aerial view of the Orange County Convention Center. How to ship to a trade show in Orlando

There are many reasons to attend a trade show in The City Beautiful. These include:

  • World-Class Venues: The Orange County Convention Center, one of the largest in the U.S., offers expansive space and modern facilities.
  • Accommodation Options: A variety of hotels cater specifically to business travelers and trade show attendees.
  • Excellent Connectivity: In addition to land and air freight, Florida hosts ports for ocean-going cargo.
  • Business-Friendly Environment: Local businesses and services, such as printing and shipping, meet the needs of trade show exhibitors and attendees.
  • Pleasant Climate: Florida’s warm weather is appealing to attendees. This is especially true during winter months, when many other locations are cold or freezing.

Shipping to any trade show isn’t as simple as boxing up some goods and dropping them in the mail. As an exhibitor at a trade show, your shipping needs can include large displays and cumbersome booths. This means you’ll almost certainly need to work with a freight shipping company that can handle large payloads.

Preparing for a trade show means having a few of your ducks in a row prior to shipping. You’ll need to purchase booth space at the show in question (assuming you have a display), and have products and/or services to exhibit. 

For our purposes, we’ll assume you’ve met these goals, so we can narrow our focus to trade show delivery and other logistical concerns.

Orlando Trade Show Logistics and Shipping Services

For all the enticing reasons to hold a trade show in Orlando, shipping freight to Orlando does carry a handful of challenges. Some are common to any large city, while others have more to do with Florida’s volatile climate. 

These challenges are:

  • Severe weather
  • High traffic volume
  • Complex venue rules
  • Tourism overlap

Given these potential issues, the best trade show shipping partners in and near Orlando have access to multiple warehouses, transloading facilities, and different types of delivery vehicles. This allows for contingency plans when storms and flash floods close roads or damage infrastructure.

When searching for quotes to ship your trade show materials, make sure you ask questions about how well-established the service is in the Sunshine State.

Trade Shows in Orlando in 2024: What to Expect

A blurry image of several individuals on the floor of a trade show.

No matter what business or field of interest you’re in, you’re likely to find a relevant Orlando trade show in 2024. At the Orange County Convention Center alone, some upcoming shows include:

Show NameDate of Show
The ASI ShowJanuary 3-5
PGA Merchandise ShowJanuary 23-26
Global Pet ExpoMarch 20-22


The type and amount of items you’ll be shipping will be affected by the type of trade show you’re attending. Heading to a culinary trade show? You may need temperature-controlled reefer trucks to transport your goods. Shipping out a large display? The right logistics company can not only ship your display, but set it up on arrival, saving you time and effort. 

How Florida Weather Impacts Trade Show Shipping

Florida’s weather is notorious for being unpredictable and extreme, often affecting the logistics of trade show freight with unexpected delays and operational challenges. 

Here’s a short list of common natural disasters in Florida that cause shipping disruptions:

  • Hurricanes: Florida’s position in the Atlantic hurricane belt subjects it to powerful storms that can halt shipping operations, damage infrastructure, and delay deliveries.
  • Tropical Storms: Less severe than hurricanes, tropical storms nonetheless bring heavy rainfall and flooding, leading to road closures and hazardous driving conditions for carriers.
  • Thunderstorms: Frequent and intense thunderstorms, particularly in the summer, can disrupt air and road transport with lightning strikes and severe turbulence.
  • Tornadoes: Although less common than in other parts of the United States, tornadoes do occur in Florida They can damage roads, bridges, and warehouses used by freight carriers.

Each of these weather events can close ports, cancel flights, and obstruct roadways, causing uncertainty and delays in the precise timing required for trade show shipping. When planning for trade shows in Florida, it’s crucial for exhibitors to work with freight forwarders who have contingency plans to reduce these weather-related risks.

Shipping Trade Show Materials: Key Considerations

Downtown Orlando as viewed from I4.

When deciding how to ship items to a trade show in Orlando, your first concern should be the size of your shipment. If you’re a vendor on your way to a trade show, it’s likely you have a large display or booth. This will probably need to be shipped via truck and trailer. 

Booths and displays are usually made of a variety of materials, such as

  • Wood
  • Steel or aluminum
  • Plastic
  • Glass

When shipping to a trade show, ensure that different materials are insulated from one another or packaged separately, if possible. This will cut down on potential damage in transit.

Since Florida experiences high, sustained heat throughout the year, you may find it wise to use refrigerated shipping where it wouldn’t always be necessary. For instance, if you’re shipping delicate electronics, using a climate-controlled trailer can stave off heat damage.

Depending on other factors, you may also need resources and services such as white glove delivery. Let’s take a closer look at how different goods have different shipping and packing requirements.

Trade Show Displays: Best Shipping Practices

Trade show displays, exhibits, and booths usually start at about 10’ x 10’ in size, going up to 20’ x 20’ and larger. Many have a modular or collapsible design, but to ship them to a trade show, you’ll probably need to work with a freight shipper.

If you’re looking for more about trade show booth and exhibit shipping, check out our exhaustive guide to trade show display shipping here

Shipping Products and Samples to Trade Shows

Two individuals reviewing paperwork at an Orlando trade show.

Bringing products for sale, swag giveaways, and free samples are essential for showcasing your offerings and engaging potential customers. These samples can range from branded apparel to high-tech gadgets, each with its own set of shipping challenges.

Some commodities that are often shipped to trade shows include:

  • Electronics: Often made of delicate, fragile materials, the challenge lies in their need for secure packing to protect against impacts and static.
  • Apparel: Fashion items require careful packing to prevent wrinkling or damage. Climate control is crucial to avoid moisture, which can damage fabrics.
  • Printed Materials: High-quality brochures or banners must arrive without bends or creases. The main hurdle is keeping them flat and protected from any dents.
  • Food Samples: They often require temperature control and swift delivery to ensure freshness. It’s a challenge to prevent spoilage, especially in the unpredictable Florida weather.
  • Cosmetic Products: Like food, cosmetics can be temperature-sensitive and need to be shielded from extreme heat to prevent melting.
  • Machinery: Large and heavy, these items need special handling equipment and careful scheduling to ensure timely delivery and setup.

No matter what products or commodities you plan on shipping, choosing the right shipper for your goods is crucial to ensure your trade show experience is successful. 

How to Choose the Right Trade Show Shippers 

Selecting the right shipping partner is pivotal to the success of your trade show participation. When shipping to Orlando, you need a company that is adept at navigating the logistics process of this bustling event hub. 

Here are some key skills and resources to look for:

  • Local Knowledge: Familiarity with Orlando’s trade show venues and the local logistics network is vital for efficient navigation and on-time delivery.
  • Experience in Trade Shows: A shipper with a history of handling trade show materials (also known as trade show drayage) understands the details of the industry. This will save you time at the show’s staging area, also called a marshaling yard.
  • Versatile Fleet: Access to a variety of transportation options, from small vans to large trucks, ensures flexibility in handling shipments of all sizes.
  • Specialized Equipment: Having the right tools, from climate-controlled units to secure straps and padding, is necessary for transporting sensitive items safely.
  • Expert Packing Services: Knowledge in packing a wide range of goods, from delicate electronics to bulky machinery, is essential to protect your investment.
  • Timely Delivery Track Record: A history of punctuality is a non-negotiable trait, given the tight schedules of trade shows.
  • Emergency Response: The ability to manage last-minute changes and provide expedited services can be a game-changer.
  • Positive Customer Feedback: Reviews from previous clients can offer insights into the reliability and customer service of the shipper.

When you’re shipping a variety of goods to a trade show in Orlando, partnering with a shipping company that boasts these skills and resources is critical. It ensures not just the safe and timely arrival of your materials, but also that you have a stress-free experience in the process.

How to Cut Costs Shipping Materials to a Trade Show

A pair of trade show staging area workers overseeing the removal of palletized goods from a pair of semi trailers.

The desire to cut shipping costs is understandable, and most businesses pay close attention to these costs. In practice, legally and responsibly keeping your shipping costs low is a matter of preparation. There are two sides to this preparation: planning out your shipping needs as far ahead of time as possible, and having a backup plan in place should things go awry.

Keep these steps in mind when you need to minimize shipping costs.

  • Early Booking: Freight shipping rates tend to be more favorable the earlier you book. Last-minute bookings can sometimes result in premium charges. Book early and you’ll save compared to booking later out.
  • Consolidate Shipments: Instead of sending multiple smaller shipments, consolidate your materials into fewer, larger shipments. Not only does this typically reduce the per-unit shipping cost, but it also minimizes the risk of something getting lost or delayed.
  • Compare LTL to FTL: Depending on the volume of your shipment, you might want to consider less than truckload (LTL) versus full truckload (FTL) shipping. LTL is ideal for smaller shipments as you only pay for the truck space you use, while FTL might be more cost-effective for larger, bulkier shipments.
  • Plan for Return Shipping: If you need to ship materials back after the trade show, plan this in advance. Round-trip bookings or open return tickets can sometimes be cheaper than two separate shipments.

When it comes to minimizing trade show shipping costs, long-term preparation and a dependable logistics partner are your best friends. The consequences of waiting too long or shipping with an unknown, unproven provider can be costly.

Last Minute and Expedited Shipping

In the world of trade shows, things don’t always go according to plan. Whether it’s an oversight, a sudden change in requirements, or unforeseen circumstances, there might be times when you find yourself needing to ship materials at the eleventh hour. 

While expedited shipping can come to the rescue in these scenarios, it’s important to understand the costs associated with last-minute freight arrangements.

Charges associated with last minute and emergency shipments include:

  • Expedited Shipping Fees: Most shipping companies charge a premium for fast-tracked delivery. This fee ensures that your shipment gets priority over others.
  • After-Hours or Weekend Pickup/Delivery: If you need to schedule a pickup or delivery outside of regular business hours, you might incur an additional fee.
  • Special Material Handling Fees: Rushed shipments may involve delicate or specialized equipment. Handling these items can require special equipment and added charges.
  • Dedicated Vehicle Charge: In extreme cases where the fastest delivery is required, a shipping company might dedicate an entire vehicle to your shipment. This is an example of FTL shipping.
  • Air Freight Rates: When ground shipping isn’t fast enough, air freight becomes the go-to. While it’s much quicker, it’s also notably more expensive, especially when booked last-minute.

In addition to the financial cost of expedited shipping, consider these points as well.

  • Increased Risk: The faster the shipping process, the less time there is for inspecting, loading, and unloading. This can sometimes lead to a higher chance of mishandling or misrouting.
  • Limited Options: Depending on the timing and the specifics of what you need to ship, you might find fewer available options or carriers willing to accommodate last-minute requests.

While last-minute and expedited shipping can be lifesavers in pinch situations, they come at a considerable cost. If you find yourself in a bind, partnering with a reputable trade show logistics company makes all the difference in ensuring your trade show materials arrive safely and on time.

USA Trade Show Shipping: Your Partner for Shipping to Orlando Trade Shows

There will be plenty of opportunities for individuals and businesses to make a mark at one or more Orlando trade shows in the coming year. If you plan on shipping to an Orlando trade show, we can handle your logistics needs from arrival and set up to break down and beyond.

Trust USA Trade Show Shipping for expert assistance with:

  • LTL and FTL truckload shipping
  • Expedited freight
  • Crating services
  • And more

Contact us online or call our expert shipping team at (866) 415-8986. With an extensive presence in central Florida, we’re well-suited to partnering with trade-show vendors and attendees in Orlando.

Need help shipping your trade show booth and materials? Fill out a short form or give us a call and one of our trade show specialists will answer your questions.

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Need help shipping your trade show booth and materials? Fill out a short form or give us a call and one of our trade show specialists will answer your questions.

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