Shipping to Shows

June 11th, 2013 - What companies need to know when planning exhibitions and events

Last May, a famed French luxury goods group staged a fashion show in Istanbul, Turkey, to present its latest ready-to-wear collection. The group created a palatial atmosphere with intricate staging and lights.

The show marked the end of a complex journey. The group had transported the scenery, lights and backdrops to Turkey from France in two trucks. The transport took seven days, including the time needed to secure the goods and complete the customs formalities, says Laurent Canot, head of events and exhibitions at SDV that handled logistics for the show.

The clothes and accessories meanwhile, valued at 1.5 million euros, travelled by air. They had to be insured and SDV provided the necessary bank guarantees for customs. After Turkey, the group needed to ship some scenery to Beirut. The French group had planned to dispatch the materials by boat but that solution proved impossible because of only one sailing per week. With no cargo planes flying between Istanbul and Beirut, SDV trucked the goods through Syria instead.

“We are always working to tight deadlines and at each stage we have to find solutions to get the goods to the event on time,” says Canot, who has organized transport for around 170 events worldwide so far this year for clients ranging from small and medium-sized companies to the biggest international groups.

When launching events from fashion and car shows to trade exhibitions and demonstrations, companies must carefully plan their logistics in advance, Canot addds. Companies must chose the event and location and consider the stand's surface, the type of materials and the decoration of the stand, he says. Materials can range from small machinery parts and foodstuffs to replicas of helicopters and concept cars. Some events qualify for funding from regional and government bodies.

Transport and logistics should be at the heart of the planning process, Canot says. Companies must select the most efficient transport within their budget while ensuring they comply with international regulations, he says. SDV helps manage planning, packing, delivery and the stocking of packaging during the show. The company can also group goods from several companies at the same event to reduce transport costs, Canot says. The time scheduled for transport should include a two to three-day margin for customs clearance and formalities, he warns. For example, companies should plan for ten days for materials to cross from France to New York by sea, he says.

For the past two years, companies have sought to send more goods by boat in an effort to reduce costs, Canot adds, noting that sea shipments are typically around 30% cheaper than air.

But maritime transport requires even more advance planning, Canot warns, citing the crossing from Europe to Hong Kong that can take up to three weeks.

“Many companies contact us too late for maritime to be a viable solution,” Canot warns. “Planning transport for an event is very different to loading a suitcase onto an aircraft.”

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