The economic growth of developing countries has seen a huge rise in the number of British businesses dipping their toes in the sometimes daunting waters of overseas business in an attempt to tap into these up and coming markets. When it comes to trying to establish relationships abroad, exhibitions are an extremely effective way to reach prospective B2B clients. Exhibiting abroad however can involve more risks and expense than exhibiting domestically.
The desirable jet-set image that comes with business abroad is an exciting prospect for many. But the difference between coming out as an international business demon and flopping can usually be sourced back to the planning of the event itself. We know that the first show abroad can be stressful and it is not easy to know what to plan for. So before you start looking at hotels and planning your trip to the Burj Khalifa on your day off, here are a few tips on what to consider:
Planning (especially when it comes to shipping)
Oversight when exhibiting abroad can cause problems that may otherwise be easily solvable on home turf. However, if you allow yourself the time to plan meticulously and research properly then this may not be an issue. When organising the shipping of your stand be sure to pay particular attention to the build time, travel time and show deadlines.
You need to allow plenty of time for your stand to be shipped to it’s destination so that if any incidents do occur then you will still be able to meet show deadlines. You must be prepared for hold ups caused by uncontrollable factors such as bad weather, cargo checks, regulations and even bank holidays in some countries can effect the speed at which things are transported especially outside the EU.
It might be tempting to use your own familiar logistics company to transport your stand to it’s destination. However, this may not always be the fastest or most cost effective solution. Most exhibition stand builders will advise you to use the show’s own recommended shipping company, and from experience we have found this often to be the best option. By using the company with an recognised by the show then they are more likely to be aware of deadlines, regulations and any passes needed to enter the show.
Use the research that you have done on your chosen show to work out your stand options, as there are different options available to you when it comes to choosing your stand that will be directly influenced by the show. You may choose to use your existing exhibition stand, or it may work out more beneficial to rent or work with a contractor closer to the show location. You should be able to find an exhibition manual from the exhibition organisers themselves that will help you to address these considerations, and build a framework for your strategy.
Travel and Currency
We all make mistakes, and getting ripped off on holiday is common one made bymade by many a holiday maker abroad; confused by local currency and overwhelmed by unfamiliar currency it is easy to inadvertently spend the equivalent of about £4.80 on a can of Coke. So make sure that when you are exhibiting abroad you are clued up on the currency that you will be dealing with, and also have a rough idea of how much you will have to spend on things. This article in Forbes contains information on things to consider on a personal level to foreign countries for work to help you look after yourself and your money.
If you are working outside of the EU then you will be needing to obtain working Visas or work permits to work in these countries. The amount of time you will have to wait to receive Visas is dependent on factors such as the country you are visiting, amount of time spent there and the level of skill involved in the work. It is best to apply as soon as you can for them, but at minimum you should allow 3 weeks for the processing of them. You can find a lot of information relating to entry requirements and other travel advice for specific countries through this link.
Culture and Language
It is often the case that most places you will visit on business will have English translations on signage and literature. But it is still important to some research into the language of a country. By trying to engage in the native tongue of potential clients, they may well hold you in some higher esteem due to the extra effort you display in doing so.
Language Specialist at Euro London, Irene Missen has researched into the links between language and business. She said, “It is so important for client retention,” says Missen.
She says many people will conduct meetings with foreign clients in English, but “if you can speak to people in their language during breaks, then they will see you in a very different light. I think they appreciate it if somebody has bothered to learn the language and come off their high horse of thinking that English is the best language; it helps with building relationships.”
Something that will not be so obvious however is the differing etiquettes in certain countries. Making a faux pas is a common downfall of many a traveller and can be great source of embarrassment and confusion as to the sharp demise of a conversation. For example, in some parts of the Middle East inter-gender handshakes are highly frowned upon. And in China it can be considered rude if you finish everything on your dinner plate. So try your best to know the basic do’s and don’ts in your chosen country. This infographic lists a few surprising but easily made mistakes by travellers to different countries.