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.

Add new comment

Partner Voices
Less than six months ago, Lisa Messina joined the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) as the first-ever chief sales officer after leading the sales team at Caesars Entertainment. A 12-year Las Vegas resident, Messina is a graduate of Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration and serves on MPI International’s board of directors. TSNN had a chance to catch up with this dynamic leader and talk to her about her vision for the new role, current shifts in the trade show industry, creating more diversity and equity within the organization, and advice to future female leaders. Lisa Messina, Chief Sales Officer, LVCVA With Las Vegas becoming The Greatest Arena on EarthTM, what are some of the things you’re most excited about in your role? Our team was at The Big Game’s handoff ceremony earlier this month, and I couldn’t help but think, “We’re going to crush it next year!”  These high-profile events and venues not only drive excitement, but also provide unmatched opportunities for event planners. Allegiant Stadium hosts events from 10 to 65,000 people and offers on-field experiences. Formula 1 Grand Prix will take place in Las Vegas in November, after the year-one F1 race, the four-story paddock building will be available for buyouts and will also offer daily ride-along experiences that will be available for groups. And, of course, the MSG Sphere officially announced that it will open in September, ahead of schedule, with a U2 residency. It’s going to be the most technologically advanced venue as far as lighting, sound, feel, and even scent, and it will be available for buyouts and next-level sponsorships inside and outside. There’s no ceiling to what you can do when you’re doing events in Las Vegas.  Allegiant Stadium As the trade show and convention business returns to the pre-pandemic levels, what shifts are you noticing and how do you think they will impact the industry going forward? Our trade show organizers are very focused on driving customer experience. Most of our organizers are reporting stronger exhibitor numbers and increased numbers of new exhibitors, with trade shows proving to be almost or above 2019 levels. Now our organizers are really doubling down on driving attendance and focusing on the data to provide that individualized, customized experience to help attendees meet their goals and get the best value. Some companies continue to be cautiously optimistic with their organizational spend when it comes to sending attendees, but I think it will continue to improve. As the U.S. Travel Association makes more progress on the U.S. visa situation, we also expect a growing influx of international attendees. What are some innovative ways the LVCVA helps trade show and convention organizers deliver the most value for their events? We focus on customer experience in the same way that trade show organizers are thinking about it. We got rave reviews with the West Hall Expansion of the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC), so over the next two years, we will be renovating the North and the Central halls, which will include not just the same look and feel, but also the digital experiences that can be leveraged for branding and sponsorship opportunities.  Vegas Loop, the underground transportation system designed by The Boring Company, is also a way we have enhanced the customer experience. Vegas Loop at the LVCC has transported more than 900,000 convention attendees across the campus since its 2021 launch. Last summer, Resorts World and The Boring Company opened the first resort stop at the Resorts World Las Vegas , with plans to expand throughout the resort corridor, including downtown Las Vegas, Allegiant Stadium and Harry Reid International Airport. The LVCVA also purchased the Las Vegas Monorail in 2020, the 3.9-mile-long elevated transportation system that connects eight resorts directly to the convention center campus. This is the only rail system in the world that integrates fares directly into show badges and registration. For trade show organizers, these transportation options mean saving time, money and effort when it comes to moving groups from the hotels to LVCC and around the city. Also, the more we can focus on building the infrastructure around the convention center, the more it supports the customer experience and ultimately supports our trade show organizers. Scheduled to debut in Q4, Fontainebleau Las Vegas will offer 3,700 hotel rooms and 550,000 square feet of meeting and convention space next to LVCC.  What are some of the plans for advancing DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) within your organization? We’re currently partnering with instead of working with a leading consulting firm, to lay the foundation and create a solid DEI plan and be the leader when it comes to DEI initiatives. The heart of that journey with the consulting firm is also talking to our customers about their strategic approaches to DEI and driving innovation in this space.  What are your favorite ways to recharge? My husband and I have an RV and we’re outdoorsy people. So, while we have over 150,000 world-class hotel rooms and renowned restaurants right outside our doorstep, one of my favorite things to do is get out to Red Rock Canyon, the Valley of Fire, and Lake Mead. Five of the top national parks are within a three-hour drive from Las Vegas, so there’s a lot you can do. We love balancing the energy of Las Vegas with nature, and we’re noticing that a lot of attendees add activities off the Strip when they come here.  Valley of Fire What advice would you give to women following leadership paths in destination marketing? I think it’s about being laser-focused on what you want to accomplish; building a team around you that lifts you and helps you achieve your goals; and being humble and realizing that you do it as a group. No one gets this done alone. Thankfully, there are a lot of women in leadership in this organization, in our customers’ organizations, and in this city that we can be really proud of. We’re a formidable force that is making things happen.   This interview has been edited and condensed. This article is exclusively sponsored by the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority. For more information, visit HERE.