5 Tips for Planning International Events

If people have flown halfway around the world to attend your event, it’d better be worth it. (They’re definitely thinking this during hour 7 of their flight, which, let’s be real, is rarely in Business or First.)

You’re under a lot of pressure to put on an international event that’s not just good. It’s exceptional. It’s valuable. It maybe gives attendees chills and/or brings them to tears. And it definitely outshines all other events of its kind.

For your event to be this kind of roaring success, you need to kill it in the planning department. Here’s how:

  1. Get the location right. 

Where you host your event is one of the most important decisions you’ll make. You’ll have to consider your audience and the core objective. For folks attending voluntarily for their own benefit, an interesting, vibrant city is just as much of a draw as a superstar keynote speaker. For internal business meetings that require attendance, there are great cities around the world that are fun and relaxing, but also conducive to attendee engagement, without too many distractions from the core purpose and message of the event.

Also consider where attendees will be traveling from, and how easy and affordable a city is to reach. Once you’ve chosen a city, narrow down your short list of venues. Put yourself in your attendees’ shoes. Is a venue in a central area, near restaurants and nightlife? Is it accessible on foot or public transit? Does it have interesting sightseeing opportunities for off-hours?

There are great resources around the world to help you identify the best location for your event, and help you work out the best solutions to get the destination and venue that you want the most.

  1. Put together a customized team. 

A first-rate event looks effortless from an attendee’s perspective, but in reality, a talented team has worked innumerable hours to make it run smoothly. Assemble your team carefully. One size does not fit all, especially when you are paying to travel a trusted team overseas to help you realize your dream attendee experience. For any show, you should hire a team full of people who are meticulous, focused, and excellent at what they do. But just as important is to pick a team that is diverse, versatile, and adaptable. You know in a heist movie, where each person has a different specialty (the safe-cracker, the tech wiz, the getaway driver, etc.), and they all come together to form a seamless operation? It’s like that, except everyone else can also do a at least a little bit of safe cracking, power grid hacking, getaway driving… except we don’t do that. Staffing your show with diversely skilled professionals leaves you better positioned to tackle the live event challenges abroad, creating a flawless (of course) experience for the attendees.

  1. Do your homework. 

Organizing a major event is challenging enough when you do it in your hometown. Move the event onto foreign soil (or seas – boats are meeting spaces too), and it gets that much more complicated. Do as much research as you can to understand the city, country, history, and culture of your destination. Then, rely on local partners with similar quality standards to join your team in executing the program. With the expertise of a local person or team who speaks the language, knows the culture, and can easily navigate the city, you’ll have a stronger team and less uncertainty when it comes time to put on a show!

  1. Bring in the experts. 

In business, as in life, sometimes you need to phone a friend. Whether an agency is big or small, all of them have friends in far flung places. We are great at what we do, but we don’t know the best live translation service in Moscow off the top of our heads. Hiring local talent in London to deliver an awesome opening act to attendees before a general session – we’d need to do some research. Hosting an interactive product fair with local food and beverage at a hotel in Beijing – give us a minute. But we are part of a global network of very connected teams that can get us the folks who can help. And this is different than the point about the customized team, above – this is about local experts who know local markets with local recommendations. We know enough to know we don’t know it all when it comes to specific cities – but we know who to call.

  1. Use your location in your storytelling.

Headed to Rome? Tell audiences why it’s called the eternal city. Sydney? Tell the story of the construction of the Opera House. Singapore? Tell the story of why it’s called the “lion city.” Every international destination offers rich culture and history to weave into your storytelling. Whether it’s an opening video, an executive’s presentation, an educational breakout or an exclusive dinner – using the location as a storybook adds a colorful texture to all of your content. And the stories you tell about where you want to take your business, and the change you want to drive, will be more memorable because they will live with the distinct qualities that only the location offers.

Thinking of getting out your passport for your next event? Call us. We’d love to go with you.

To help you deliver a great experience, obviously. Not to just… go with you and hang out. You get it.