When we tell clients that Sequence has produced events in 15 countries across five continents, the same question typically follows: ‘Where are your other offices located?’ So we’re almost always prepared for the look of surprise that follows our response: ‘Actually, our only physical office is in New York City.’
Producing events internationally has its challenges and intricacies, but as it usually goes in the planning world, preparation is key. Here are five tips for going global with your events!
1. Comprehend the Currency Exchange.
The exchange rate will play a critical role in your event and its budget. To consider: a venue you contracted in the United Kingdom in May, 2016 for $150 GBP per person cost you $235 USD per person. That same venue last week, taking into account the current exchange rate, would have costed you $190 USD per person! It’s a significant fluctuation that in this case would be a savings, but can of course go either way. So factor in the rate itself, and in what currency your vendors will want to get paid (here’s a link to a good convertor website). Oh and by the way, the reason for the recent GBP currency plummet? The Brexit vote. Don’t forget to follow along with world news, as it very well could have a direct financial impact on your event.
2. Pack Heavy.
Avoid international shipping and customs at all costs! It can be expensive, slow-moving and prone to miscues. Look to local vendors whenever possible, and consider having your team checking additional luggage to bring over event supplies. Buying a cheap suitcase and paying the bag-check is usually more cost effective and reliable than shipping overseas. If you absolutely must ship make sure you’re leaving yourself plenty of time!
3. Culture Code.
In Japan, punctuality is key. If you’re hosting an event in India don’t be surprised if locals show up late. Don’t look to show appreciation in China by tipping, and if you’re planning an event in Rome know that Italians take their coffee as seriously as they do their football. There are going to be significant cultural differences between American styles and whatever country you're headed to. You may or may not be planning to accommodate the culture preferences of your delegates, but the more you can integrate your host city’s customs, the more authentic the experience will be for your guests (and certainly for the locals!).
4. Pics + Vids = Clarity.
When working with local vendors, request visuals whenever you can. There’s nothing that supersedes a site visit, but pictures and videos will help you get a better feel for venues, installations and décor, or practically anything else. Visuals can also help ensure that key planning details aren’t getting lost in translation.
5. Enlist Local Expertise.
You don’t need a physical office to effectively plan an event in a foreign country, but it’s never a bad idea to have a go-to contact with local expertise. A local expert can help bridge the gap between cultural divides, as well as offer unique perspective in evaluating vendors. A contact like this can also be a tremendous asset during the event, helping to navigate contingency plans or emergencies.