Globalization is a trend that has revolutionized the world as we know it. Be it trade, healthcare or tech, every industry has seen the effect of this trend.
Event industry is no exception. According to a recent study on mega-trends in meetings and conventions 2030 by the German Convention Bureau,
“Approximately 28.6 percent of professionals felt very strongly that globalisation will have a major impact. Meetings will be all the more important to address issues that arise through increased inter-connectivity of cultures and peoples.”
Nations are trying to build better and stronger relations with each other. This has been a major game changer in the events industry paving the way for international events.
These are large scale events that require a lot of planning and precise execution for it to be a success. Hence, in this article we are going to discuss some crucial aspects to be considered while planning and executing an international event.
What exactly are international events?
International events are those where representatives of two or more nations get together with the purpose of mutual benefit and exchange.
International events are different from other events mainly because of the added responsibility of managing attendees from two or more different countries all together. The event will reflect the host country as a whole and will play a major role in terms of its agenda.
A recent example of such an event is the 52nd Annual Meeting of the African Development Bank (AFDB) group that was held in Ahmedabad, India from May 22–26, 2017. India-Africa partnership in developing agriculture and trade was central to the entire event.
For organizing such events, there are certain additional points to be kept in mind while planning for and executing these international events.
Here are a few things to consider while planning international events:
1. Pricing and Currency:
The major challenges that an organizer or a planner may face while planning such events are - the currency exchange rates and the difference in pricing strategy for each country. The prices for ticketing, resources, logistics, etc. have to be negotiated beforehand.
Also, there is a possibility of sudden change in economic policies as well. For e.g. the introduction of Goods and Services tax in India. Such policy changes are sure to affect the pricing strategy for such events. Exchange rates too may vary at any given time.
It is impossible to forecast such major changes beforehand. In such cases, it is better to negotiate a lock-in exchange rate if possible. It is better to consult a tax advisor for the same.
It is also necessary to inform the delegates arriving from other countries about the currency system of the host country.
Taking note of the AfDB event, the attendees were briefed about the currency exchange and banking system of India, the host country, through its event website. They were also informed about the ban on Rs. 1000 and Rs.500 (old) notes in lieu of the demonetization policy.
2. Cultural Diversity:
The culture of no two countries is exactly the same. There are bound to be differences in behaviour, attitude as well as social conduct.
The organizers must embrace the cultural diversity. The goal should be to educate the representatives of both countries on each other’s cultures. A few ways bridge the cultural gap are organizing cultural entertainment sessions, visits to local attractions and interactions with natives, etc.
Africa and India are two developing countries with diverse cultures, bonded by their history. AfDB had organized a cultural night; ‘The sounds of African Transformation.’
3. Language barrier:
Unless it’s an English speaking country or a neighboring country with languages similar to yours, language barrier will definitely complicate the communication process.
Right from negotiation, the event planner should be prepared to deal with this language barrier.
Hence, it is good to have all your signage, conference material and handouts in both languages. The best option would be to go paperless and opt for digital alternatives to conference material. Apart from being a greener alternative, it’ll really help you save up a lot on resources. This will also make your conference material more accessible to the delegates.
The countries participating in the AfDB meetings were mainly Francophone countries with their primary language being French. And the best strategy they implemented to keep their delegates updated was by releasing an event app — AFDB AM 2017 which was a bilingual app with all the content available in both English and French.
To facilitate the attendees, interpreters were also appointed from a local French Institute. An added bonus in such cases is the economic benefit and the temporary job opportunities created for locals.
It is necessary to understand the legality of such an event and hence, laws of the host country should to be studied properly before the event.
Even while booking the venue, the planners need to consider the laws related to organizing such events on the property. Laws also play a major part in pricing. For e.g. the GST law will be considered while deciding the prices of event venue, accommodation and other logistics for such international events in the future.
While briefing the delegates for such events, it is necessary to explain the laws of the land to them beforehand.
For e.g. For the AfDb event, the venue chosen was the capital city of Gujarat- Gandhinagar. Gujarat is one of the dry states in India where alcohol is banned. There are laws pertaining to provisions for foreign nationals with regards to consumption and possession of alcohol. Delegates must be informed about such special laws and provisions prior to their arrival.
Remember that your event is going to reflect the entire country as a brand. It is better to make a list of the amenities required and work as per that list. The list must include facilities required at the venue, including AV, transportation, accommodation and other basics.
One of the key aspects in terms of logistics is transportation and accommodation. Transportation must be arranged for the same. Again, planning ahead of time is extremely crucial in order to book the best accommodation facilities within budget. Remember, it’s your brand that shall be reflected through the facilities that you arrange.
In case of resources, it is better to obtain everything locally. It will help the economy of the host country and benefit the locals too. You must also take care of the basic requirements that arise in a new country. For e.g. the AfDB event website had mentioned details regarding electric outlets in case the delegates may require an adapter to charge their electric gadgets. It is attention to such small details that counts.
Considering recent events like the Manchester bombing, event security has to be given prime importance. People flying in from another country must feel safe and secure in the country overall.
From selecting the destination to finalizing the venue, event security facilities have to be considered. Certain venues have their own security team in place. But, it is always advisable to hire a private security team. An effective risk management plan should be in place before the event.
A certain part of the budget should be allocated solely to security. The planner must keep in mind that the high-profile delegates arrive safely at the destination and have a security team with them while travelling within the city. Like in the case of AfDB where the delegates had a team in place with them. Even in case of the selection of venues, Gandhinagar is considered to be one of the safest places in Gujarat, being the capital of the state.
When it comes to travel, the main issue that may arise is Visa. The event planner must go through the travel and visa requirements for the host country from the country’s tourism website.
Nationals of certain countries may get visa on arrival while some may require going through the long procedure of acquiring a visa. The provisions and formalities for the same are to be noted.
Apart from this, the attendees may also require medical and travel insurance before the trip. It is better to sit down with a professional and sort this out. The attendees must be provided information and contact details of the concerned authority for them to fulfill the visa requirements.
People travelling to India for the 52nd meeting of the AfDB Group were given the guidelines for visa on their event website itself.
8. Weather and Climate:
Weather and climate conditions differ everywhere. It is necessary to study the weather forecast prior to the event. Especially, in case of an open venue, the date and time of the event should be fixed keeping in mind the seasons in the host country.
For e.g. Monsoon (June-September) is an unsuitable time for such events in India.
Also, the attendees flying in from other countries should be informed about the weather and climate conditions. This will help them in preparing for the trip. Like in the case of AfDB, the weather details were listed on their website itself.
The convenience of the attendees is always a priority.
From economic gains to strengthening national ties, international events have multiple benefits for both participants. It is upon the event planner to see to it that these benefits are gained from the event and that everything runs smoothly.
Organizing such international events is not everyone’s cup of tea (or coffee, depending on where you’re from).
In order to fulfill the agenda with which these events are conducted, a lot of precision and efficiency is required in organizing them. One way to do it is by using event tech tools like an event website & event app.
As seen in the case of AfDB, these tools simplified a lot of tasks for the planners. All the necessary information that needed to be communicated to the attendees was done through them. From weather forecasts to visa requirements, the website & app had listed it all.
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