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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Overview: The award-winning Orange County Convention Center (OCCC) goes the extra mile to make every day extraordinary by offering customer service excellence and industry-leading partnerships. From their dedicated in-house Rigging team to their robust Exhibitor Services, The Center of Hospitality brings your imagination to life by helping you host unforgettable meetings and events. With more than 2 million square feet of exhibit space, world-class services and a dream destination, we are committed to making even the most ambitious conventions a reality. In October 2023, the Orange County Board of County Commissioners voted to approve allocating Tourist Development Tax funding for the $560 million Phase 5A completion of the OCCC. The Convention Way Grand Concourse project will include enhancements to the North-South Building, featuring an additional 60,000 square feet of meeting space, an 80,000- square-foot ballroom and new entry to the North-South Building along Convention Way. “We are thrilled to begin work on completing our North-South Building which will allow us to meet the growing needs of our clients,” said OCCC Executive Director Mark Tester. “As an economic driver for the community, this project will provide the Center with connectivity and meeting space to host more events and continue to infuse the local economy with new money and expanding business opportunities.” Amenities: The Center of Hospitality goes above and beyond by offering world-class customer service and industry-leading partnerships. From the largest convention center Wi-Fi network to custom LAN/WAN design, the Center takes pride in enhancing exhibitor and customer experience.  The OCCC is the exclusive provider of electricity (24-hour power at no additional cost), aerial rigging and lighting, water, natural gas and propane, compressed air, and cable TV services. Convenience The Center is at the epicenter of the destination, with an abundance of hotels, restaurants, and attractions within walking distance. Pedestrian bridges connect both buildings to more than 5,200 rooms and is within a 15-minute drive from the Orlando International Airport. The convenience of the location goes hand-in-hand with top notch service to help meet an event’s every need. Gold Key Members The OCCC’s Gold Key Members represent the best of the best when it comes to exceptional service and exclusive benefits for clients, exhibitors and guests. The Center’s Gold Key memberships with Universal Orlando Resort, SeaWorld Orlando and Walt Disney World greatly enhance meeting planner and attendee experiences offering world-renowned venues, immersive experiences and creative resources for their events. OCCC Events: This fiscal year, the OCCC is projected to host 168 events, 1.7 million attendees, and $2.9 billion in economic impact.  The Center’s top five events during their 2022-2023 fiscal year included:  AAU Jr. National Volleyball Championships 2023 200,000 Attendees $257 Million in Economic Impact MEGACON 2023 160,000 Attendees $205 Million in Economic Impact Open Championship Series 2023 69,500 Attendees $89 Million in Economic Impact Sunshine Classic 2023 42,000 Attendees $54 Million in Economic Impact Premiere Orlando 2023 42,000 Attendees $108 Million in Economic Impact