Tradeshow Transportation Industry Definitions

Here are some common tradeshow industry standard terms you should know and understand. If you have any questions for our team at Tradeshow Transportation Specialists about our tradeshow services, don’t hesitate to reach out to us today.

Service Contractor

A general service contractor performs many functions at a tradeshow. These duties most noticeably involve moving exhibit freight in and out of the exhibit hall, storing of empty containers, creating floor plans for show management, handling equipment requirements, liaison between convention center and show management, signage, and a multitude of other “behind the scenes” responsibilities.

Bill of Lading

This is also called a waybill, and it is a shipping document (required by Interstate Commerce Commission) describing an agreement between a shipper and a freight carrier as to pieces, weight, origin, destination and billing information.

Chargeable Weight

Weight that is charged by the carrier. Either actual weight or dimensional weight, whichever is greater.

Actual Weight

The physical weight of the total shipment when weighed on a scale.

Dimensional Weight

Weight of a shipment based solely on the dimensions of the shipment. In other words, a large crate full of goose down feathers will be charged based on the size of the crate NOT the actual weight of it.


The term used to describe freight that is moved at show site from trucks to the assigned booth spaces.


100 pounds in freight parlance.


Exhibit Appointed Contractor; non-official service contractor usually supplies services related to exhibitor displays by exhibitor request.


Installation and Dismantle; a common function EACs perform for exhibitors at trade shows.

Marshalling Yard

A designated area (usually off-site from the convention center) where freight carriers park until they are called to the convention center loading to offload or pick up freight. This is done because of space constraints around hotels or convention centers and also alleviates traffic issues.

No Freight Isle

Usually indicated by red tape and are the “streets” of the show floor where no freight may be placed due to fire marshal restrictions.

Number of Shipments

The number of separate shipments each booth contains. A booth may have some of its freight going back to the office while the other part is going back to a display house or another show. In this case, a separate Material Handling Agreement (MHA) must be filled out for each destination.


Privately owned vehicle; usually refers to an exhibitor’s car or truck when they are providing their own shipping.

Pro Number

Number used on a Bill of Lading or Material Handling Agreement (MHA) to track the shipment.

Shrink Wrap

Individual pieces of a shipment wrapped together (usually on a skid) in clear or dark plastic sheeting. Each piece of freight still needs to be individually labeled in case pallet is broken down.


Freight term used for the base on which freight is placed, usually a pallet.

Target Date

Larger shows will have targeted move-in/out dates. This is done to systematically move a show floor without congestion. It’s similar to loading an aircraft by row number.