The goal of every event manager, whether planning a small incentive gathering or large-scale international conference, is to provide impressive experience. More and more corporations, venues and brands are searching for unique methods to intensify their event marketing activities.
Hosting an international event is an appealing and beneficial initiative, but also a challenging experience for every event manager. CoCo Agency has produced various events in international locations including London, Paris, Brussels, Sofia, Kiev, Bucharest, Plovdiv, Tirana, Warsaw, Krakow, Tel Aviv, Dammam and Riyadh. Based on our broad experience in hosting international events, we’re sharing 5 key tips that every event planner should know.
LOCATION ALWAYS COUNTS
Location is always first on an event planner’s mind. Choosing the location where you want to hold an event means not only selecting the country but the city and the venue as well. Some useful tips to make the right choice, as location can make or break an unforgettable event, are:
- Visit the shortlisted venues in person before selecting the exact destination.
- The venue has to be easily accessible from the airport and connected to the public transport network.
- You have to find a local resource.
- Check in advance the different technical options that the venue have included in the price like sound, light, backstage, parking, etc. Sometimes such services are not included in the final offer.
- Be cautious when working with the venue’s security staff. The security has to cooperate with you as a client. We have worked with the venue’s security staff on various international events. We’ve quickly realized that it was the wrong choice, knowing that they were following only venue’s requests and our demands were not taken into consideration. It’s better to rely on your trusted security firms. They know what your goals and needs are.
Connecting with a local resource will help you bridge the gap between cultures and connect you with inside information that may be difficult to research even online. Gathering local references will help expedite the vendor research process and will provide peace of mind when booking a recommended service.
One of our biggest mistakes was to book a venue that doesn’t have a good connection with the municipality and local police authorities. In 2013 we’ve decided to make an event in Brussels Event Brewery and we signed a contract for approximately 7 000 EUR. Unfortunately, the venue’s license was revoked by the municipality just three days before our event because the managers of the place haven’t done anything about the loud sound and violence compliances. Within only 72 hours our company had to search for a new venue to accommodate the event (what we have done successfully), but it was really a bit of a challenge. The situation made the crew covering crazy hours shifts to create a great event of the visitors. In the end, it happened to be one of the craziest events we’ve organized that everybody will remember. Through, the Brussels Event Brewery didn’t want to return us the money with the explanation that the decision of the municipality was “an act of God”. Finally, we have got our money back but we had to get it through justice procedures.
FIND YOUR “HEROES”
Once you’ve decided where the international event will be held, you have to find your local heroes, to prepare your team and to select a date. Usually, the local “heroes” will help you throughout the entire process of planning, conducting and finalizing the event. You have to find local event managers with vast experience that know the market and suppliers.
When you choose the exact date of your event the “heroes” will also encourage their attendees to stay a couple of days longer or to come in a few days early to attend your happening as well. Consider offering those attendees all the information about accommodation possibilities – how to reach the venue from the train stations or airport. It is really important to support your attendees with all the information they need to make their experience as great as possible.
CoCo Agency cooperates with local heroes when it’s impossible to hire our staff within the international offices. Usually, almost 90% of the logistics for exhibitions or big design concepts are organized without local staff support.
RESEARCH THE COUNTRY’S CUSTOMS
It is important to do some research on proper etiquette because every country has different business customs. Online research will help you to understand how to show signs of respect, especially upon introducing yourself. A simple gesture showing you’ve done your “homework” and honour their culture can go a long way when doing business overseas.
Recently, our company has worked a lot in different Muslims countries. When I traveled for the first time to Saudi Arabia I was not aware of many local customs of their culture. Looking back on this time, I realize I’ve made many mistakes. For example, in Saudi Arabia, local people stop working during prayer time and sometimes I get confused to find myself left alone in the venue. If organizing an event in Saudi Arabia, you should keep an eye on your crew, as the staff is likely to disappear for more than 30 min. for each prayer, and there are five prayers each day. It really can ruin your time management.
After some years working in this country, I realized how to handle this kind of situations and now I am very strict with my team. Another thing that we’ve learned is that if you need any material in countries like Saudi Arabia – Israel or any Middle East calculate at last 24 hours before you will get it from your runner. 🙂 They will bring you the material that you need for sure but it is not like in our European culture. Usually, in the European countries, you get it in a couple of hours.
In Ukraine, we’ve encountered another issue. When we were working outside at -20 °C, some of our crew were drinking tea with vodka (by the way, it is the greatest drink to get hot when you are working outdoors) still we had to aware the crew that such kind of practice is not allowed in the working hours.
TAKE INTO CONSIDERATION THE TIME DIFFERENCE
Planning an international event means that you’ll be cooperating with companies and third parties that are in completely different time zones. Mind the time difference when planning out communications and deadlines. If you have more than 2 hours time change between you and the host country, make sure to reflect the appropriate date in your timeline to accommodate the time change. Additionally, set up phone calls and meetings that fall within their workday, not yours.
FIND OUT WHAT ARE THE VENDOR’S AND VENUE’S PROCEDURES
Working with vendors abroad is a little tricky. Always search for information instead of assuming something is included to avoid hidden/additional charges. For example, some countries do not include the load-in/set-up time in the venue contract, so you can be charged with an unexpected fee. Walking step-by-step through every order and confirming your needs will help to be prepared for any misunderstandings.
Make sure to ask for 3 to 5 offers (minimum) for each logistic that is needed. Another good practice is to research the venue’s and vendor’s background. Ask them directly what kind of events they have done and try to find out if they are flexible enough to adapt to any situation. You don’t want to choose a supplier that won’t agree to your terms and will constantly ask for extra fees.
Most of the time, managing an event is super stressful. That’s why you need to have the right soldiers that can go to the maximum of their abilities and knowledge. Never make a deal with a supplier by phone conversation only. Follow the conversation with an email, each time when the supplier confirms the deal that you’ve made. Trust me, it can save you from many annoying conversations and discussions before, during and after the event. I know that many suppliers will ask to be pre-paid, especially if your company is from Bulgaria and you’re organizing an event in Western Europe. Still, keep negotiating for paying 50 % of the fee at the signing of the contract and 50 % after they’ve done the job. Sometimes they never show up at the event with 1001 excuses and it is hard to get your money back for services that have never been done at all.
NEED HELP ORGANIZING YOUR INTERNATIONAL EVENT?
Our friendly & experienced staff is happy to provide planning and managing assistance to ensure your international event is a success. Contact us here.
The author of the article is Sir Firoiu Dan. He has extensive experience in all aspects of Communication, Marketing, Accounting Management, Event Coordination and Budget Coordination. He is specialized in the management of administration and logistics in a busy special environment. Passionate for marketing strategies, brand development and event coordination, while consistently providing outstanding customer service. Enthusiastic professional, successfully building profitable relationships with new and existing clients.
You can contact him at any time at firstname.lastname@example.org