As more and more meetings go global, U.S.-based meeting planners need to familiarize themselves with the technology landscape abroad.
While navigating the technology requirements and resulting budget concerns for a domestic meeting may be enough of a challenge, the risk is only increased when one travels to a foreign country to hold their meeting or event.
Following are 11 essential event technology tips, as well as a few that can apply to other needs as well, to consider when bringing your meeting or event overseas.
1. Prepare to Be Impressed: I have spoken before groups in 34 countries and have experienced good quality Wi-Fi in most countries I have visited.
Oftentimes first-world countries such as in northern Europe, South Korea and Taiwan provide faster speeds than in the U.S.
2. Social Media May Be Blocked: The biggest internet-related problem has been getting through the “great firewall of China,” where standard social media channels are blocked.
I was able to get through using a VPN service, although it was slow.
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3. Decentralized Negotiation Landscape: Contract negotiation for services provided oftentimes is quite different than in the U.S. Convention center/venue services can be much more decentralized (dealing with separate people for catering, set-up, AV, electrical, etc.).
4. Local Contacts Are Key: It can be very helpful to have a native-language-speaking local agent/PCO to assist in the process.
Cultural differences on how things can be done can be significant.
5. Use Tourism Bureaus: Local convention bureaus can be very helpful in understanding limitations and cultural differences.
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6. Tap Into Industry Association Networks: International meeting industry associations, such as MPI, can be very helpful in finding advice from locals.
7. Utilize Existing U.S. Sources: Leverage you contacts with global sales directors of major brands to get introductions to a hotel of interest.
8. Plain and Simple: Be explicit in your requirements. More information is better than less.
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9. Use Alternative Communication Channels: Skype, Zoom, Slack and other collaboration and communications tools can be very helpful.
10. Time Zone Tip: WorldTimeBuddy can be very helpful for scheduling international calling times.
11. Face-to-Face Is Critical: Meeting with potential suppliers is highly recommended. There are cultural and professional differences that can be observed before booking.
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