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What the Heck Does MHA Stand for?! (Helpful Tips on Understanding Tradeshow Shipping Jargon)

BY: Rex Houlihan     Nov 5, 2015 10:30:00 AM

Having played in the events industry for over 25 years, I tend to get a little too loose with the industry terms and jargon at times. “Please keep the MHA, housebill, and CI together and attach them to the MAWB so the shipment can make it to YYZ by next week.”

My not-so-keen self-awareness kicks in when I see eyes rolling, knees buckling, and heads swaying side to side in sheer confusion, boredom, or both!

We all want to be knowledgeable and belong at some level. Using industry terms allows us to feel that connection to our fellow events professionals. I get you and your dim weight; I belong!

Many of our customer contacts are new to the events industry and have received little to no training. Loads are just struggling with learning the basics of professional employment. As an events professional there are a mountain of tasks to remember, schedule, book, and tend to. There are industry rules to follow and some to break.

But here’s what I didn’t know…

What the heck is a pallet jack and why do I need an inside pick up?

That’s right, drive the truck right up to the convention center dock and have our exhibit team take it to the booth space. I’ll just order the MHA ahead of time so my guys at show site don’t have to fiddle with it.

In this age where there is an avalanche of information floating around 24/7, making sense of it all and taking action can be a challenge… particularly if you are new to your role… and have not received any guidance from your predecessor.

Based on my conversations with dozens of less experienced event coordinators over the years, I have come to realize:

  • Folks don’t know what they don’t know. They will muddle through seeking a solution until they stumble upon a solution or give up in frustration.
  • Many individuals will suffer quietly and not reach out for assistance. The boss is pushing hard and the pressure builds.
  • Little to no training leads to frustration, burnout, and eventually turnover.
  • It is okay to burst out in tears of frustration when your shipping contact pays a visit. Gives you both something to laugh about in six months when you are up and running.
  • It takes a slice of chutzpah and a slathering of personal perseverance, but eventually the door opens up and one starts to get acclimated.

If you are new, there are so many resources to assist in your knowledge grab. Join an industry group like IAEE or PCMA (there I go again), or join groups on LinkedIn. There are even books to read like The Art of the Show.

It is okay to raise your hand and ask for assistance. Hey, Coach, not sure what I am doing here — can you lend a hand? It happened again last week. As I was speaking to a new event coordinator, we were chatting about the show move-out process for her exhibit team and the delivery back to her office. After fumbling around with some quiet spaces in the conversation, I realized she was brand-new and hesitant to say as much.

We took a step back and talked through the big picture. I sent some hand written diagrams of the move-in and move-out processes and added a few steps she would need to take to make it all happen. In addition, I put together a list of words she would likely encounter when prepping for her events.

Download our Helpful Guide to Understanding
Tradeshow Shipping Jargon!

Above is a basic list of industry terms, but realize this is just the beginning. In the coming weeks, I will cobble together the basics of event shipping, whether you are shipping from your office, storage location, or exhibit house.

Welcome to the NorthStar events sandbox. Jump on in and play, and feel the frustration dissipate.

If you have any comments or wish to share, please reach out!

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Topics: Tradeshow Shipping, Event Shipping


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