International exhibitions can present new and different challenges. Aside from logistics there are also cultural differences to consider. Before you travel make sure you’re well informed.

1. Think Global, Act Local

While English may be considered a widely spoken language in business, you may want to consider the need for a translator depending on your exhibition location and objectives.

You may also need to consider providing literature in the local language as well as English. Potential prospects need to fully understand the benefits of your products and services. Many cultures seek technical details, so provide both metric measurements and weights.

2. Don’t Assume, Ask

This is where your exhibition planning is crucial to avoid unexpected problems when you arrive. Really check the requirements of the exhibition venue well in advance.

Check electrical regulations with the exhibition stand contractors – The US uses 120v electricity and Japan uses 110v. Many European countries, Russia and China use 220v. Brazil uses 110v and 220v. So, you may need to have adaptors and transformers for lights or purchase or rent substitutes.

Exhibition Stand at an Internal Event

Check the regulations about delivering exhibit shipments from the loading bay to your stand space, is a common expense in US trade shows. That expense may be combined with other fees, or require no charge, in other countries.

Avoid surprises by inquiring about what materials and services are subject to VAT (value added tax) or GST (goods and services tax) – at what rate, and whether or how you may file for reimbursement.

3. Get help from experts

Consider working with an experienced exhibition stand company that has its own international offices. Customs can be a complex and lengthy process. Exhibition plans often need to be submitted along with documentation to show management to verify it meets local electrical and fire safety regulations.

Nomadic has multiple offices and representation worldwide in key trade show cities like Las Vegas, New York, DC, London and Frankfurt. This enables us to coordinate international events, display design, production, rentals, graphics and logistical support from the locations closest to client events so we can save them time, money and stress.

4. Basic Business Etiquette

Before you leave, learn as much as you can about the culture of your trade show audience. When in doubt, err on the side of formality. In general, smart business attire is recommended.

Greet visitors using their last name until you are asked to address someone by their first name. Don’t rush through introductions. Age demands a higher level of respect in Asia, so address older people first. European businesspeople often greet one another with a firm handshake, whereas Asian countries tend to avoid body contact. Asking personal questions of any kind may be viewed as inappropriate.

5. Take Your Time

You want to build new relationships through face-to-face contact. Many cultures attitude toward time is more relaxed and the conversation more casual. Take time to get to know visitors before diving into a sales pitch. Refreshments can encourage a more relaxed conversation so on-stand hospitality is often incorporated into the exhibition stand design. Offer visitors comfortable seating, a hot or cold drink and light snacks.

In general, American trade show hours are shorter than in other countries. Adapt your stand schedule accordingly to incorporate frequent breaks for your staff. Jet lag combined with longer hours on your feet is a recipe for fatigue.

American exhibitors often hold brief conversations with many visitors and collect their information to contact them after the show. Exhibitions are used for in-depth discussions or to close business deals in some cultures. Lastly, don’t let a lengthy evaluation process frustrate you; some cultures don’t make decisions at a rapid pace.

So, if you are planning on exhibiting abroad, do spend time finding out the logistical issues you may face and look into the local culture to ensure you get the best from your show.

Please feel free to contact us to see if we can help as we have an experienced team ready to offer you advice.