The world as we know it is getting smaller and smaller. Not literally of course, but these days we are able to reach and communicate with global audiences much quicker and easier than we could ever before. There are less barriers and that means, if your product or service has universal appeal, the world really is your oyster. Lots of companies with customers further afield, be it across Europe, the States, Asia or the Middle East, choose to exhibit in world fairs to make direct contact with their target audiences.
We’ve helped clients pitch up at exhibition halls all over the world, from Cannes to California, Denmark to Dubai, and there are huge benefits in doing so. You get a far better understanding of a foreign market if you’ve got sales troops on the ground in that country; and knowing your market is everything. But making the decision to exhibit abroad is easier said than done. It can be expensive and there’s lots to consider; far more than if you were exhibiting here in the UK. With over 40 years’ experience travelling the world with our clients; we’ve learned some handy tricks along the way. Here are our top five tips for when exhibiting at world fairs; we hope you find them useful…
One size certainly does not fit all. What works for you in one country may not work in another. You have to research and know your market inside out and adapt your exhibition stand and marketing material to suit. The Brits are a funny bunch, a rare breed if you will. Just because you’ve had a cracking show in London, doesn’t mean you can rock up to a European trade show in Berlin or Brussels with the same stand and same giveaways and reap the same success. For example, certain colours mean different things in different countries. The Irish see green as a symbol of luck, however, in China, green should be used with caution as it symbolised unfaithfulness (for a man who wears a green hat in China is said to have a cheating wife). You don’t want to cause any offence while you’re there or put people off your product – you want them to flock to your stand and love what you’re selling. Do your research and be confident your presence will stand out for all the right reasons.
2. Plan Ahead
It goes without saying that organising an exhibition outside of the country is going to require more thought and planning. Do not underestimate the time it will take to complete adequate research, decide whether you will stick with a UK exhibition contractor or source one in the country of the show and sort all of the extra bookings, not to mention design a stand perfect for that particular market and get it there, wherever it may be, on time. Be sure to book your hotel rooms early as not to miss out. During the build up and duration of any trade show, hotels close to the venue are likely to get booked up quickly. Don’t leave it to the last minute – you don’t want to be staying miles away from the exhibition hall; you want to be able to take a leisurely stroll with a coffee in hand, or short taxi ride. Less stress, more success. The same goes for flights. The earlier the better. The sooner you book, the cheaper they’ll be too. And allow extra travel time for your goods and team to arrive safely. The further you’re travelling the more chance there is of encountering delays. Could be a cancelled ferry crossing or problems with the Euro Tunnel – give your stand and your team some wriggle room. Don’t be late to your own party because the show will go on, with or without you.
3. Know Your Surroundings
Don’t be so naïve to think that because you’ve organised a dozen successful shows in the UK, that exhibiting abroad will be a breeze. You need to fully submerge yourself in the country and culture you’ve chosen to ascend on. What is the currency? What is the time difference? What is the native language? Will you need to hire some interpreters to help out on the stand? On a more practical level, there will be different power requirements so make sure you bring adaptors if necessary!
4. Get Familiar With The Rules And Regulations
A slightly more mundane but oh so important point. Getting your head around health and safety requirements in UK can be mind-boggling so you can imagine how much thought and concentration will be needed to make sure you’re doing everything by the book in another country. For example, in some countries, certain materials are banned, and in America, you are required to use certain contractors for work carried out in the exhibition hall – you can’t just turn up with your own men. There can be lots of red tape. That’s not to say it won’t be worth it in the end – it could be game changing – you just need to be aware of these differences and make sure you’re playing by the rules. A good and experienced exhibition stand contractor will be familiar with the rules and regs in different countries and will have contacts abroad to make the experience less stressful. Where you can, put your trust in these experts.
5. Remember Your Passport
It sounds patronising but we’ve seen it happen on countless occasions. Make sure everyone travelling checks that their passports are valid (some countries require you to have a certain length of time remaining on a passport before it expires) and securely in their bags. With so much preparation and money spent on exhibiting abroad, you don’t want to hinder your chances of having the show of a lifetime because of a silly (and very easily-made) mistake. Gaffer tape it to your body if you need to, just don’t leave it on your bedside table!