Global exhibiting is enticing, no doubt; after all, there are more than 30,000 B2B trade shows worldwide every year, and you just can’t get that kind of exposure without setting foot on foreign soil, can you? Let’s say, you are in the US, which makes up for less than 25% of the global market, shouldn’t you then also focus on the emerging markets of South America, India, the Middle East and Russia? You should.
As a matter of fact, you must consider exhibiting internationally, if your business strategy allows you to. However, going global has its share of challenges, and could be quite confusing, especially if you are a first-timer.
The lingual differences: When exhibiting at a show in Abu Dhabi, make sure that the text on your business cards is in both English and Arabic, but if you wish to have the signage only in English, that’s completely acceptable, no worries. No matter where you are, it’s always recommended to have at least one person in your booth who is good at speaking the native language, and that’s because your booth would attract foreign visitors, and not all of them will speak English. It’s advisable to hire local staffers, especially those who speak multiple languages. The idea is to convey your message and not let lingual differences come in your way.
The cultural differences: Have you ever been to a trade show in Hong Kong, if not as an exhibitor, maybe as a visitor? Did you notice that hospitality is common out there, irrespective of the booth size? Well, the typical fare at any show in Hong Kong consists of snacks and beverages, which must be ordered through the venue’s catering services. So, keep that in mind when you decide to exhibit there. Similarly, in the US, while you would seldom see alcohol on the show floor and smoking is out of the question, there may be a common sign in Europe and some other foreign countries. The key lies in understanding these differences and embracing them – when in Rome, do as the Romans do.
The bigger differences: For starters, avoid getting your shipment delayed in customs; either look for a freight company that has experience in overseas trade show shipments or just go with the organizer’s preferred freight partner – the latter, of course, seems more like it. Secondly, you need to ensure that your products are in compliance with the country’s technical and safety standards. If you are not so sure, better hire a local consultant. Err on the side of caution here. Thirdly, get a hang of the difference in currencies so that you do not end up overspending. Make suitable arrangement for currency conversion. Last, but not the least, take a note of the time differences as these can hit you hard. It is important to plan your day accordingly.
Facing these challenges head-on is easier said than done; find a reliable exhibit partner, one who has proven experience in the international market. Just make sure they have a couple of references to provide and are not just making tall claims. Go global!