A Logistical Guide to Exhibiting at an International Trade Fair

April 4, 2016

This guest post comes from Collin Mohler of nEventum, an international group of portals specializing in trade shows and events.  If you’re reading this, you are probably considering or have just recently booked your first trade show overseas. Congratulations! You’re taking an incredible leap to expand your international presence. The business opportunities abroad are vast and inviting. However, it’s important to remember that exhibiting at an international trade fair can necessitate major process adjustments to be successful.

International Trade Fair Considerations

1. Time Differences

If you’re taking your show across oceans, there are many implications to consider in terms of timing. Firstly, understand that New York time is five hours behind London, which is the minimal time differential when crossing either the Pacific or Atlantic oceans, unless you’re an exhibitor out of Alaska attending a trade show in the Far East of Siberia (then it’s four hours). If you are in Chicago and are planning to exhibit in Barcelona, you will be attempting to coordinate and communicate with show managers and others seven hours ahead of you. This leaves a very little timeframe to converse with designers and other parties overseas. According to Exhibitor Online, a common rule of thumb is reserving an extra 30% of time to assure that deadlines are met.

2. Exchange Rates

Also important are exchange rates. There are a few strategies in particular to avoid costly exchange rates, and the key is in the timing. Give yourself some time to monitor exchange rates. When you think it is as low as it will go, you can purchase the appropriate amount of currency to store in your reserves. Alternatively, offer to prepay your designers and freight forwarding company if you fear that the rate might increase when the time to pay arrives.

3. Customs

Foreign Customs and Border Protection can be difficult to surpass when shipping large materials. To avoid any slip-­ups, read these recommendations that could prove useful when entering a foreign country.

What is so different between US and foreign trade shows?

For starters, The U.S. is the only country that doesn’t prepare booth specifications under the metric system. While there is uniformity across most of the world for measuring things, the U.S. has been reluctant to join the trend. So, be sure to brush up on your conversion! The second of the key differences in the U.S. is a little more pleasing. On average, exhibiting in the U.S. costs five times more than in Europe or Asia. This is due to transportation costs, drayage, and costs paid for installation and dismantle (I & D) labor. Don’t worry about drayage while abroad, because it is gratuitously included in transportation costs. While shipping will be expensive, the total expense of exhibiting abroad from the U.S. pales in comparison to exhibiting in the U.S. from overseas. One final thing is that there is a very notable difference between the materials and designs of booths overseas––materials tend to include paint and shell scheme stands instead of pipes and laminate finishes like in the U.S. Also, be aware that the process of installation outside the U.S. often begins on­site at the venue and can last for 1­2 weeks. Exhibitors may only need 1­2 days to assemble their booths in the U.S., but overseas, the process is often construction instead of installation.

Personal Preparation

Feel free to underdress a little. In most situations, business casual is more than acceptable. To effectively communicate and sell your ideas and products, you will also have to adapt to the locally spoken language. Many companies avoid outsourcing for booth staff, but if you are unable sell effectively in the local vernacular, you are limiting yourself greatly. In Paris, for example, presenting your products in French rather than English will attract more attendees. Finally, seal the deal with business cards readily available for your guests. Be careful not to offend booth visitors by shoving their business cards into your wallet. While this may mean no disrespect in the U.S., business cards are more often treated as valuable invitations to do business. Show special care toward the business cards presented to you abroad. Questions about international exhibiting or international trade fairs in general? Let us know in the comments!   About the author:  Collin Mohler is a writer at nEventum, a company that focuses on facilitating the organization of events. nEventum is an international group of portals specializing in trade shows and events of any kind, with a calendar of trade shows, exhibitions and events held in 152 countries. They help companies and exhibitors promote their events and give them advice on how to ensure their exhibitions are successful. Follow nEventum on Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, and LinkedIn.