Going to an international trade show is exciting, but it can also feel scary and present unexpected challenges. Here are trade show tips for when you go to a trade show abroad.
Make sure everyone has their passport.
This may sound basic, but do a passport check well in advance. As soon as you begin deciding the team who’ll be going, check everyone’s passport status. The approximate time frame to get and have a passport processed is 4 - 6 weeks. However, when applications are busy it can take any where up to 12 weeks (3 months) or more. Start the process with plenty of time to spare.
Book flights strategically.
One set of flights may be cheaper, but it could mean 3 different connections with an overnight layover - which costs extra time and money. Plus, if there is a delay on one of the planes, it could lead to a much later arrival to your destination. That’s why it’s usually more important to try and get a direct flight (if possible) on the way there vs. the way back.
Offer a day or two of cushion.
As mentioned above, a delay in flight could mess with your schedule. Try to have at least one day before the trade show so that if there are any unexpected delays that leave you stranded overnight, your team isn’t missing the first day of exhibiting at an international trade show. All kinds of travel delays have happened to me so I make it a policy to arrive two days before all overseas shows.
Research the Culture & Trade Show Well Beforehand.
You may be hosting a trade show booth at an event in a country you know well or have never visited at all. Either way, it’s critical to research the culture. Business is done differently around the world; it’s important to go into a new place with knowledge of the staple traditions and standard business practices. For example, in Japan you hand your business card over with two hands and you accept a business card in the same way. Not knowing the norms in a country might cost you deal.
On that note though, also research the international trade show demographics; check if most people attending are from the country itself or from other places, as well. For example, a trade show in Germany may also have many attendees from neighboring countries like France. Learn more about these cultures and how you can best serve them. Maybe even hire professional booth staff who are fluent in languages that your company is weak on.
Be prepared for money conversion.
Make sure your team has a plan for converting money. Do they have company cards with no foreign transaction fees? Will they be paying for things with another method? It’s important to have all the payment details sorted out BEFORE you exit the international terminal.
Have a Trade Show Booth that Entertains.
No matter what country you’re in - or what someone’s primary language is - creating human connections is key. When considering how to reach and excite an international audience, have you ever considered a trade show magician? Magic transcends language and it bridges connections over any existing language barriers. The universality of magic makes it a great choice for creating visual metaphors for the solutions your company offers.