International Event Planning: 5 Tips Event Marketers Should Know

April 4, 2013

Doug Shockley

Doug Shockley, vice president, Business Development and Global Events at, has over 22 years of industry expertise.

As I board my plane to Beijing, China, for another corporate event, I realize that working on international projects has taught me so much, from cultural differences to the unique event management processes that vary in each country. The global journeys my team has been invited on are endless and unique.

We’ve taken the specific event I’m traveling to now, from Las Vegas to Madrid, and now we’re on to China. Here are the five tips you should use before you take the big international leap:

1.    Visit the venue before the event- I always make sure to fly in early and scope out the canvas I’m working with. If I don’t know the lay of the land before my client arrives, they’ll sense my nerves and it may cause unnecessary stress. This also helps me to uncover any potential issues and experience the space as an attendee would.

2.    Transportation – Do you know how you’re getting around while at your destination? Make sure to make this a priority in your planning process to make your time there less stressful.Also, if arranging private transportation isn’t in your budget, make use of mobile apps such as London’s Underground App that helps you get around the tube easier. Lastly, have you heard about the Global Entry Program? Sign up here and expedite your customs’ experience.

3.    Research and use local resources – A colleague’s or friend’s recommendation will make or break your experience. There’s generally no reason to bring all American resources to your international events. In a lot of places, drayage and other American terms and business practices don’t exist. LinkedIn is a great resource as well. Post in a group and you’ll be sure to receive recommendations or even be contacted by a potential partner.

4.    Know local laws and emergency contacts – In case of an emergency or an accident, make sure your team is registered with Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).   This is a free service provided to U.S. citizens that are traveling to, living in or doing business in a foreign country. It helps the U.S. Department of State better help you in an emergency because they have all of your information handy. Even something as simple as holding hands in public in the Middle East can get you into major trouble; know the laws before you leave.

5.    Give yourself a year – International programs include unforeseen circumstances and delays throughout the planning process. Expect contracts, negotiations and travel planning to take longer in an international destination. Invest in a local travel agent, partner, etc. because it will be worth your time based on the number of challenges that can arise. The more time you have the better.  Plus you can actually enjoy the planning process when you give yourself ample time.

Have any other questions about international event planning? Share them below and I’ll give you my best advice!

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