Exhibiting in your own country can often be difficult, but taking your company overseas can open up a whole new world of issues. Whether your business is a multi-national company maintaining brand awareness in various locations, or a smaller entity looking to break into an international market, overseas exhibitions are a great platform for showcasing your services, provided you know what to do and what to avoid.
With over 30 years of experience delivering exhibition stands in multiple countries across the world, our team have put together some of the important aspects to look out for when exhibiting abroad.
Understanding The Market
The first and arguably most important step is understanding your target market. In a previous role I helped businesses expand operations into overseas markets and from experience I know that even very large companies often do not fully research or understand the international markets they are trying to move into.
Have you undertaken suitable market research? Who are your main competitors? What sets you apart? How big is your market? What are the risks? What are your goals and how do you aim to achieve them? Who are the people involved? What is the investment? How will you market yourself? All of these are important questions that must be answered before you even get to the question of “Is this the right event for my business?”
Getting this stage right can avoid wasted investment and taking the time to truly know your market will be an immeasurable help in every stage after.
Transport and Logistics
Stands & Equipment
The sheer logistics involved in moving an exhibition stand to another country is often under-estimated. With issues such as customs, storage, safe transport, and delivery to contend with, having the right professional help is invaluable. Fortunately there are some very reputable companies who treat this step as second nature and can ensure your stand is transported to the venue without a hitch.
For a lot of locations, it can be far easier and more cost effective to find an in-country stand builder who will manufacture everything required for your stand within a convenient distance of the event. When doing this it is absolutely crucial to find a reputable supplier who is able to perform this task as finding out at the last minute that the construction is not going to plan can be a disaster.
Over the years we have built a strong network of trusted suppliers in many countries who work to our exacting standards and enable us to provide solutions to your business wherever you choose to exhibit.
Transporting several staff members to another country can also cause headaches for any HR team. The key to ensuring this stays trouble-free is to do everything as early as possible. Draw up a checklist so everyone knows who is responsible for what stage and complete it ASAP.
Try to pick a suitable hotel close to the venue. When a major show is on, nearby hotels will fill up quickly so booking early will give you a more convenient location and often save you money on the booking.
As with hotels, flights will fill up very quickly close to major events. Booking early will give you a better choice and a cheaper flight.
It is absolutely essential that you establish very early what type of visa each staff member will require (if any). Each country has a minefield of different immigration rules and regulations and visas can often take a lot of time to be processed. I’ve seen hundreds of occasions where employees have had to be left behind due to unforeseen visa issues that could have been resolved if they had applied earlier. Criminal records, health issues & nationality can also cause severe issues that can delay or prevent visas being issued.
Has every staff member got an up to date passport? Is the passport valid for more than 6 months after the scheduled flight? (some airlines may refuse travel in these cases). It sounds obvious but how many people do you know who have booked a holiday and then could not find their passport? It happens, so it’s a good idea to check early.
Local & Venue regulations
It’s important to check the local laws of the country you’re visiting to ensure that you’re not bringing in anything that is restricted.
In addition to local laws, all venues and shows will have their own regulations detailing what can and can’t be done. These regulations can stretch to several pages and include everything from structural restrictions, clothing standards and food policies, to health & safety, and construction.
Engaging with a professional supplier who has experience in the country/venue and can work within the local rules can be a lifesaver.
Recently in one week alone we were on site building stands in the UK, Spain, USA and Singapore. 4 different countries with 4 very different ways of doing business.
Are you dressed appropriately? Do you know the right way to introduce yourself? What is the common local method for networking?
Preparing your business and staff on the cultural differences they may face when exhibiting in another country can make a huge impact. Doing business like a local will be noticed and reflects well upon your company and show visitors that you take great care over the finer details.
It’s easy for native English speakers to be a bit complacent and assume that whichever event we go to, any visitors will be able to speak English. There may be a hint of truth in this, but travelling to another country with no thought to language barriers is asking for trouble.
Where possible always ensure that there is a member of staff that can speak the local language. If there isn’t anyone suitable, you could even consider hiring a translator for your stand.
Also consider your stand, promotional material, brochures and business cards, would they benefit from a local language version? Even if the person you’re addressing speaks English, giving them a business card in their native language is an effective and simple way of making a real impression.
Our work has taken us to some amazing places around the world and we’re regular visitors now to the New York, Las Vegas, Sao Paulo, South Africa, Singapore, Barcelona, Amsterdam, Paris, Dubai, Germany & Africa. We’re always excited to see where our clients will take us next.
If you’re interested in exhibiting abroad and want to talk to the experts, we’d be happy to discuss how we can help you meet your exhibition goals.