International events planning away from your home country may take you outside your normal comfort zone. This is true especially when it is the first time you are embarking on a venture like this. Although this challenge can be exciting, it is also a daunting task if not scary.
The fact is that even the most experienced and accomplished event planners can find it tough to deal with all the cultural, legal, and social barriers that do not exist at home. So, if you are planning a conference in a foreign country here are some useful tips.
- Research the new culture
In case the destination of the event is already selected, then a good place to make a beginning is in the library or online, doing some cultural research. There is an online resource called Kiss, Bow, and Shake Hands by Terri Morrison about doing business across the world. It is a renowned publication that describes cultural etiquette and business practices across all the important destinations and provides tips for winning people over.
- Collect overseas references
When you are trying to understand the nuances of a foreign culture, it is a fascinating experience and is quite useful during negotiations. However, it might not be sufficient when taking into consideration some of the more technical aspects of planning the event. If you are looking for some industry terms you can refer to Conventional Industry Council’s APEX industry glossary.
This is a useful resource that concentrates more on North American industry. However, it has also included global terms and their usage. Many countries have professional and association bodies that are devoted to planning events. It might be a good idea to contact these bodies for getting recommendations about the best practices and prospective partners.
- Never be afraid to ask for help
It is a good idea to ask for help even when you feel you do not need it. Most planners are okay with sharing their experiences and they can also make recommendations for destinations that are familiar to them. For instance, if you need translation equipment it might be a good idea to get in touch with a local professional network for recommendations.
You can use email or even some forums or social media platforms to tap the knowledge of many people with a single post. Many industries related associations have their own set of forums that may be used for members to ask questions openly and get recommendations.
- Find professional local partners
This is possibly the most important recommendation for international events. Finding a local professional partner could be the most important step of all. Local knowledge of professional organizations can easily make or break an event. A good place to start is the Convention Visitor Bureau of the destination.
You can also get in touch with Destination Marketing Organization or the DMO for this. The CVBs are non-profit organizations and can offer a range of complimentary services for planners. They can offer help in the selection of local DMCs, or Destination Management Companies for international events. Although this might increase the costs, there is value in better service, local expertise, and resourcefulness.
- Meet face-to-face with people
There are several CVBs out there that offer Fam trips or familiarization trips. This is a perfect opportunity for event planners to experience the destination for themselves. They may wish to meet prospective clients or select the venues.
Please keep in mind that budgeting and funding for these trips will differ in various parts of the world. Therefore, ensure that this is clear before accepting some proposals. There are trade shows such as IMEX that are a terrific opportunity for exploring the destinations that offer different alternatives. Many CVBs, DMOs, and DMCs allow attendees an opportunity to meet face-to-face before making significant business decisions.
There are some groups in operation across social media that may be utilized for this international planning. However, all these groups have sets of rules that you need to read before you post. There you are, these are some easy tips and resources that will help you in planning your international business event. There are some floor plan apps available as well, that will help in ensuring that the event fits into a certain space.