5 Tips for Creating a Successful International Event

September 12, 2015

Jason Popp

Jason Popp- Jason Popp is Executive Vice President, International at GES. With more than 20 years of global business experience and 10 years with GES, he leads businesses outside of North America.

Imagine an environment built solely to bring collaborators and competitors together from diverse industries — a space perfectly suited to helping them achieve their business goals. What would it look like?

Traditionally, it was beneficial for businesses — and, indeed, entire industries — to build hubs in convenient locations to serve regional markets. Germany could be considered the grandfather of the exhibition. In the Middle Ages, Germany naturally became a society that encouraged market-style meetings for people to display their wares in one common place. It was an economic catalyst for the country that fostered well-developed infrastructure, complete with individual cities building advanced trading centers to drive traffic.

Today, international is everything. The language of conferences has become more universal, and exhibitors and attendees now control event experiences by connecting and interacting.

Here are five things I’ve learned about creating a truly international event:

1. Data tracking is the future. The digitization of events continues to become a more important factor for attendees. Marketers are experimenting with a broader range of digital tactics. Competitive advantages can now be measured by observing an event’s ability to use data to measure and improve its experience.

But data tracking can also be used to guide an event’s success, even as the event is unfolding. And because making connections with other attendees is such a crucial part of the experience, data tracking should be paramount for event marketers. It gives them the power to maximize networking opportunities. They can match attendees to events and professionals to each other.

2. Everybody’s looking for something new. Event attendees are actively looking for new things. Many actually decide to attend events based on the promise of new product offerings and discoveries. Keep trends at the forefront of your mind (and your event). Even if you work in a mature industry in which new innovations are less common, encourage promoters to spin their offerings toward any changes or upgrades.

3. Face-to-face interaction is imperative. When it comes to presenting your event for maximum engagement, visitors still prefer face-to-face connections to lecture-style events. According to a report by the Center for Exhibition Industry Research, 56 percent of attendees prefer obtaining information face to face at events or expos.

Everyone is looking to make tangible links and real relationships when they attend events, but coordinators can use digital media to enhance the face-to-face aspect of conferences. Help people connect via social media, put faces to Twitter handles, and stay connected after the event (consider e-newsletters and online forums).

4. Spontaneous meetings are where the magic happens. Part of the fun of a good conference is the accidental connection you make in line for a free wine tasting or at the buffet during lunch. Attendee interaction is often considered one of the most important aspects of an event.

5. Every staff member should be an expert. More than half of your attendees will test your team’s product and company knowledge. But know-how isn’t the only important aspect; being friendly and approachable is vital, too. You don’t want staff scaring attendees off. Your staff members are valuable assets who can — and should — offer solid information and an inviting experience to your guests.

The elements of a good event are more universal than we think. Cultural nuances do exist, but attendees and exhibitors around the world are constantly tweaking their priorities as things move toward a more international business climate. To meet others and walk away from conferences with serious value, attendees need marketers and organizers to enable and encourage them to make connections using all the digital tools at their disposal.

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