Labor and drayage costs are a significant cost center for exhibitors, and by extension, a major concern for show managers. They’re two critical factors in choosing a city and a venue for your show.
Expo, in conjunction with Michael Hughes, managing director of research and consulting for Access Intelligence, has complied average advance order rates charged to corporate exhibitors in 45 U.S. and Canadian cities for its 2013 Labor Rate Survey.
While costs have risen as the tradeshow industry and the economy have improved in the last two years, overall price increases have stayed in line with inflation. The compound annual growth rate (CAGR) for common labor, service and material handling prices was 3.9 percent from 2011 to 2013, just a tenth of a percentage point ahead of the U.S. inflation rate (3.8 percent) over that time.
Labor and drayage have gone separate directions since the last survey though. Growth rates for general display, rigger and electrical labor have stayed flat or decreased since the 2011 Labor Rate Survey; drayage costs have increased significantly however. CAGR for direct crated shipments to exhibit halls has gone from 1.3 percent to 4.9 percent.
“Where the survey shows higher rate increases is for material handling shipments direct to exhibit halls,” Hughes says. “This may be a way for contractors to encourage more shipments to be sent by exhibitors to the advance warehouse ahead of the show, and to reduce or compensate for shipments sent directly to the exhibit hall during the move-in process which can create bottlenecks.”