Running a Successful Event in Another Country

For the vast majority of exporting businesses, the time comes when staging your own event in another country becomes more or less inevitable. Although we live in a digital age, where electronic communication is immediate, inexpensive and (if done correctly) highly effective, many will find that face to face contact is crucial when trying to make an impact.

In general, something that works in the home market is worth considering as part of promotional strategy in another country. But there are pitfalls. Following these basic rules will help to avoid disappointment.

1.       Allow plenty of time
The chances are that things will take longer than usual. Communication may be more difficult and there will be unexpected complications. Plan well ahead.

2.       Take local advice

From the very start, seek advice from contacts in the country. If you have a distributor or agent, it’s usually best to let them make the key decisions and oversee the day to day arrangements. If not, seek out local contacts you can trust, such as existing customers, suppliers or other business contacts who operate in the target country, or the commercial section of your country’s Embassy.

3.       Take account of local culture

There are ways that things get done in other countries that rarely gets written about. Some places have a strict respect for time keeping, and will expect an event to start exactly at the stated time. In another place, it may be quite normal for hardly anyone to turn up until half an hour after the start time.

In some cultures, people listen to presentations politely, and may be reluctant to ask questions. Elsewhere, people may enter and leave a room repeatedly during the event, even take phone calls. Understand that you can’t impose the way you normally do things.

4.       Agree objectives and budget

It’s essential to be clear at the outset what you are seeking to achieve, and from that, decide on the appropriate budget. You may find you need to revise this later, but putting expectations in writing helps to keep the plans in perspective, and to see if it is getting side tracked.

5.       Find out what others do

Check out what competitors are doing, as well as comparable businesses in other sectors. Get a feel for what works, and don’t assume that just because something went well in another country that it will work this time.

6.       Plan your event promotion

Intensive work is usually needed to get your event to the attention of the target audience. Know from the start who you want to attract and how to reach them. Prepare your message carefully and ensure it takes account of local issues and values.

7.       Physically check the venue

Whenever possible, visit the venue well in advance of the event and check details meticulously. Is the location suitable? Can it be easily reached by car and/or public transport? If participants will need overnight accommodation, check that too. Ensure that all required resources will be available and reliable.

Make personal contact with the individual who will have overall responsibility for the event at the venue, and keep in regular contact with them.

8.       Pay attention to detail

Always good advice for events. Proper Preparation Prevents Poor Performance. This is even more important when working in another country.

9.       Double check all arrangements well in advance

Anticipate and check technical issues in particular such as electrical plugs/adaptors and compatibility of any local equipment.

10.   Arrive in plenty of time

Use the time proactively. Have a check list of all issues, and take nothing for granted.

Article written by Tim Hiscock - Associate of Strong & Herd LLP

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