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Planning an overseas event

Planning an overseas event

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International event planning can be a satisfying and enriching experience. However, there are some key things that you can do to ensure all goes well.

Hire professional help
Consider hiring a professional event agency or a congress organiser, for example, for a first time event in a foreign country. Even if you are organising it within the same country but in a city that you may not be familiar with, it may be worth it to consider employing extra help; which may results in you saving time and ensuring a certain level of quality control.

A good professional agency will have an encyclopedic knowledge of the destination, local regulations, stay up-to-date on changes and keep you informed on the pulse of the nation where the event will be held. When soliciting their help, do an assessment on their experience, get some of clients’ reference apart from considering their professional fee.

Assess the risks
Risks are higher when you are organising your event in a foreign place. Make a list of potential risks. You may also want to get legal advise on reviewing contracts and advice on risk management. Be sure to stipulate which country’s law and court system will be applied if contractual disputes arise. Some of the possible risks are, for example, related to travel (cancellation, delays, baggage problems), different culture in the destination (that the attendees do not behave in a manner that is considered rude by the locals), security issues (a foreigner is always more vulnerable to petty crimes), authorisation and licences issues (which can differ from country to country), the currency that is to be used to pay for services contracted, among others. The identification and management of these risks is an important component in the organisation of the event.

Project finances
Expect to pay higher-than-normal deposits to international vendors. Most foreign vendors will expect a 80 to 90 percent deposit upfront, from three to one month prior to the event. Don’t take chances with highly fluctuating currencies. Agree on an exchange rate in advance and put it in your contract. If the event is more than a year out, some vendors might insist on small percentage increments. When projecting per diem expenses for sponsored delegates (speakers, board members, etc.), use the worst-case scenarios for exchange rates so that the budget does not fall short.

Ship with caution
Factor in delays and postage expenses. If your list of attendees include persons outside the country, consider printing and mailing from the country of origin. The professional agency should be able to recommend printing and shipping services and steer you away from customs or postal pitfalls. Key equipment or supplies held up at customs can greatly affect your event and add stress and costs to get last-minute solutions if you cannot recover them on time.

Get cultured
Different country has different way of working, different languages and cultural background. Be respectful and sensitive when dealing with vendors and foreign contacts. For example, different countries have different lunch hour, you should generally adapt your agenda and menu to the mores of the host culture.

Rethink Audiovisuals

Audiovisual equipment and electrical currency needs differ from country to country, as do services provided by local technicians and venues. Sometimes, renting equipment on site can be a more economical and prudent choice.

Visas, immigration documents

If you have attendees coming to your event from diverse countries, make sure that you provide information about visas and immigration documents to inform them if any visas will be required. Nothing is more unpleasant than to have to a delegate not attending due to visa problems.

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