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Managing Your Material Handling Agreement Like a Boss

BY: Rex Houlihan     Oct 15, 2015 10:09:00 AM

Manage your shipment like a boss image

What's the #1 mistake made at tradeshows?

Not completing a Material Handling Agreement and returning it to the service desk at the end of the event! 

One could argue that pre-show marketing or post-show marketing is as important, and you may have a good point. But stay with me for a short while longer. I have heard all sorts of excuses as to why the MHA form is not completed and turned in.

Here are a few that often come up: 

  • Had to catch my flight
  • I forgot
  • My gal at the office turned it in
  • I have already filled out a million forms; there can't possibly be another one
  • It's in there somewhere!
  • I'm not sure where we're supposed to ship the display
  • I taped it to my display case
  • My coworker has it
  • The line is too long to return it

And my personal favorite:

I have no idea what a Material Handling Form is.

All are valid points if you wish to increase your tradeshow cost, have your display rerouted to an unfamiliar carrier, miss your next event, or — at the extreme — get fired! 

So how do you prevent such a catastrophe? Grab a seat and let me explain.

Whether you are working your exhibit space in marketing, sales, or as the CEO, it is critical to your overall tradeshow program to complete a Material Handling Agreement or Decorators Bill of Lading and turn it into the service desk at the conclusion of the event. 

What is the Material Handling Agreement?

The MHA is an agreement between your company and the Service Contractor that includes the exact number of pieces to be picked up from your booth area, the materials description, the materials destination, and your designated carrier, among other information.

Material Handling Agreement Best Practices

  1. Retrieve your MHA near the end of the event from the Service Contractor at the service desk.
  2. Once you have the MHA in your hands, pack up, label your material, fill in the appropriate fields on the MHA, and sign it.
  3. Stroll over to the service desk one last time and turn in your your MHA.
It's as simple as that. Once you have a copy for your records, you are free to depart.  

Having just returned from an event it was fun to watch the exhibitors hustle over at the end of the event to turn in their MHAs. Flowers were given to the first three! They were tradeshow rookies and veteran road warriors alike. All well-schooled in the art of moving out successfully from an event. 

Next time you exhibit at an event, remember to complete the MATERIAL HANDLING AGREEMENT.

Looking for some free resources on tradeshow shipping? 

Visit our Resource Center

Topics: Tradeshow Shipping


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