“Globalization” is the buzzword of the day, and with good reason. Regardless of where you are, be it a grocery store with imported products or an economic conference on international trade, it’s as if the world is all in one place. The effects of globalization have seeped into every corner of our lives, and the event industry is especially aware of this fact. Nowadays, no matter the type or the location of an event, there will almost always be attendees from a foreign country. For members of the industry, this trend means that the old ways of catering to mono-national attendees will no longer work. Then, a question arises: how can event organizers plan and manage a successful event with international attendees?
As a multinational company committed to bringing people together and embracing all backgrounds, we at Glue Up are passionate about this issue and would like to share some insights that we have accumulated over the years. We believe that making your international attendees feel at home is important not only because it is the event organizer’s job to do so, but also because it can help your business grow. Here are five steps to make sure that your event leaves a pleasant impression on everyone:
First and foremost, make sure you have a basic understanding of the cultures that the attendees are coming from. You don’t want to do anything culturally inappropriate or, even worse, send the wrong message to your attendees and have them feel disrespected.
In particular, be on the lookout for dietary needs; you wouldn’t want to be serving a pig feast when your attendees can’t eat pork. Also, though your attendees may speak your language, do try to prepare event materials in their language—it is a nice gesture that can be easily done via digital platforms.
Look out for your attendees' dietary restrictions! You wouldn't want to be serving a pig feast when your attendees can't eat pork.
Perhaps you are used to sending one mass email invitation to all your attendees. However, a simple email blast will not suffice in relationship-based cultures like India or Italy.
For attendees from these places, your invitations have to make them feel special and wanted. That said, personalizing your invitations doesn’t have to be an arduous, time-consuming task. You can use software that allows you to easily manage your email lists and customize your invitations with graphics and other media.
Communication shouldn’t stop after the invitation. Not only should you continue to send your attendees reminders about the event, but you should also keep them updated on any event changes or travel alerts. Imagine how an already-disoriented-from-traveling attendee would feel if he or she were to show up to an event session that had been canceled!
Moreover, you can also prepare a travel checklist for your attendees, so that they can adjust as quickly as possible upon arrival and have the energy to fully enjoy your event later.
Remember to send your attendees reminders about the event and keep them updated on any event changes or travel alerts.
Different cultures view punctuality differently. For example, an American may aim to arrive five minutes early to an event, whereas a Brazilian may find it acceptable to arrive half an hour late to the same event. Plan your agenda accordingly with these cultural differences in mind. More specifically, leave enough downtime between sessions so that no one feels the need to rush to the next one. This way, you will maximize attendance for all your sessions and avoid the “empty seats” situation.
Needless to say, hosting an international event requires a lot of manpower and coordination. If such an event feels impossible to organize at the moment, perhaps consider making it virtual. Virtual events eliminate many of the hurdles that come with physical events, namely the lack of time and accessibility.
Moreover, not only are they easy on the budget, but they also contribute to the environmental cause of going green. You may also get a greater turnout because you will also be saving your attendees a plane ticket! For inspiration, you can check out this virtual conference for APAC chambers that we hosted earlier this year.
International Events are...international, so, that means you need to see from the perspective of attendees who are flying in or driving hard for your event. If they're engaged enough to attend your event from thousands of miles away, then you need to really provide them the best experience both in the event floor and outside the event. Most websites that host international events always have a section about transportation and hotels, even entertainment.
You can always show them maps, directions, and suggestions, but if you have the leverage, do try to arrange discounts with local hotels in your area and make it so that your attendees can actually save money before arriving. This all adds up to great experiences for those new to your area, and it really instills loyalty for them to return to future events if you so happen to be planning one.
With international events comes the responsibility from your end to be able to accept payment methods not normally accustomed in your area. That means opening up your ticketing software to other payment processing companies and methods that you normally wouldn't support for a local event. You need to jump through hoops for your international attendees, and not the other way around.
A Chinese potential attendee may leave your site and your event behind entirely if you simply don't support the local Chinese methods like Union Pay or AliPay. You might even lose tech enthusiasts for hackathons if you don't harbor some form of cryptocurrency payments. Check out our 30 hackathon ideas article to see what hackathons are all about.
Want to personalize your event automatically? Book a demo and see how Glue Up's award-winning platform does just this!