Guide to International Exhibiting
If your local and national exhibitions are going to plan and have been for a while, it may be time to branch out and take on an international exhibition. The benefits can be tremendous, bringing your company to an entirely new market or enhancing your brand image if you already trade in that area as well as gathering vital information on potential competitors local to the area.
Although you may be an experienced exhibitor in your home country, bringing them skills to the international exhibition industry may prove more difficult than you may think. We’ve put together a guide on how to make your first international exhibition a success.
Planning & Priorities
Exhibiting internationally is notorious for requiring much more time and planning than a local or even national trade show would, which means a realistic timeline and detailed to-do list are essential for getting things done.
First and foremost you and all the staff members that are travelling need to make sure that your passport is up to date and well away from expiry, in the UK passports can take 3 weeks or more to be processed and delivered to you. If you’re in a rush and someone’s passport has expired there are services that speed up the process for a fee.
Getting a visa is the second step, depending on where you are exhibiting this can be relatively easy (European Union) or difficult (China). Many countries require a letter of invitation however this can be easily obtained by contacting the exhibitions organisers. A good rule of thumb is to apply for visas at least two months before you travel and to make sure you have your passports first as visa applications often require your passport number.
Regarding your exhibition stand you have two options, shipping the stand or use a company local to your venue to build a stand that you leave behind. For first time international exhibitors it is recommended to purchase a stand at the venues location as opposed to shipping your own as it is significantly easier to organise and puts less pressure on your timeline.
Time zones should also be considered when organising your exhibition stands, if there is a large time zone gap e.g. Europe the US then you need to account for this. The differences in time zones means that you and the person you are trying to contact are often not in the office at the same time and so emails are potentially not going to be answered until the next day. It is recommended to plan for around 30% more time than you would when exhibiting domestically.
Top Tip: Book hotels and flights early, cities with major exhibiting venues often fill hotel rooms and plane seats quickly.
Booth Build & Staffing
Whether you plan to build your exhibit overseas or ship your own stand the chances are you’ll be shipping some items such as demonstration equipment, product samples or literature. It is recommended to use an international freight forwarder that is experienced in the exhibition industry. Freight forwarders are companies that arrange for your shipment to travel from one place to another with all the transportation and paperwork you’ll need, this makes the whole process easier and helps to relieve pressure on your timelines.
Even with a freight forwarder however there can often be delays in shipping, holidays in the destination country can affect how long your equipment takes to be shipped so this should be researched and accounted for.
If you have decided to ship your own booth then you’ll need a crew to install, dismantle and move it. Your exhibits design will also need to be pre-approved by local safety officials, this is important as many countries will have different safety regulations to your own. What’s considered safe to use in the UK may not be in the US.
Even if you have staff members who speak the local language it is recommended to hire a local translator who understands the technical language, the can also help you and your staff what is culturally acceptable in terms of language, actions, dress as well as expectation of what your stand will offer such as food and drink.
Developing a relationship is key when exhibiting at home and internationally. Encouraging your staff to take the time to engage with attendees goes a long way towards generating trust which will benefit your business in the long run.
Top Tip: Expect to take lots of public transport to and from the exhibition venue, this should be accounted for in your budget.
We hope this guide helps to ease the planning process of your first international exhibition. At XL Displays we supply everything from custom built exhibition stands to portable pop up displays. We also offer an in-house graphic design service.
For more information contact us or call our sales team on 01733 511030.