Planning Events Domestic vs. International

brazilIn three short weeks, Brazil will host the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Brazil’s Institute of Tourism estimates around 600,000 tourists will visit the country. 

If you’ve planned an international event before, you can admit… it’s a different ballgame, but most planners enjoy the exciting challenge. Many organizations see these events as an opportunity to expand their organization’s footprint and grow globally. As the economy improves, there are great opportunities for organizations to host international meetings in numerous regions around the world. 

Whether your organization has interests in expanding or you want to find ways to plan events outside the U.S., we’ve rounded up the key factors to consider when planning internationally: 

More lead time - One of the biggest differences between domestic and international meetings is obvious - international travel requires a passport and sometimes a visa as well. Lead time can vary, so it’s essential to factor in the time and cost of obtaining a passport and/or visa. Most importantly, when planning international events, consider more open, accessible destinations that are supportive of business travel. Planners should research as much as they can about the destination to mitigate risk. Learn about destinations as well as travel warnings and alerts on travel.state.gov/.

Negotiating competitive rates can be (more) challenging - In some countries, negotiating can be viewed as insulting. In general, hotel rooms, airfare, ground transportation and banquet space may not negotiable. If there is a language barrier, I recommend that planners hire a local expert or tap a fluent/native colleague to help translate conversations and negotiate. Securing local experts can ensure an equally beneficial transaction for all involved. 

Simple differences - To execute the most successful event, it’s important to have an understanding of local holidays and currency exchange rates. In regards to the venue, it pays off to be overly diligent about details. For instance, understand their unit of measurement on floor plans, and inquire about on-site staffing and equipment needs. Don’t assume that staffing and production equipment is utilized the same way. 

Hosting an international event can be easily executed with these great resources: 

Learn all you can about the destination - Source tools such as Cvent’s Destination Guide that can help you grasp everything about the destination when planning abroad. For instance, planners who are hosting events in Brazil during this year’s FIFA games can learn more about the country in Cvent’s Brazil Destination Guide.

Seek the help of others for language translation - Luckily, Cvent’s Supplier Network can help you find hotels abroad for an international event, alas no language translation needed to read about the venue’s meeting space, location, and more. A planner looking for hotels in Brazil can get quotes and book space on Cvent’s Supplier Network. 

Use the Traveler’s Checklist by the Department of State - If you want to know where to plan an international event, visit the State Department’s website for an in-depth traveling checklist. Everything from travel alerts to travel requirements by country (including vaccinations and other health precautions) will help planners successfully prepare attendees.  

An international event can has the potential to be more rewarding than a domestic event for everyone involved. Before planning the next event, organizations should look at their key strategies for the next 5-10 years and determine whether an international event will help achieve those goals. Organizations also need to be committed to the destination and becoming relevant to the local market, rather than solely hosting a meeting there. 

Interested in international travel? You’ll enjoy reading, “Food for Thought: International Food Etiquette.”

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