Do Your Due Diligence


The success of an international meeting or event depends on how well planners do their due diligence in understanding the customs and culture of the country they are going to.

Marla Harr, a meeting planner, certified international protocol consultant at Business Etiquette International, and a professor in meeting management at Arizona State University and California State University has this advice to give:

Research the country's customs.
For instance, in Japan, it is said if you are not 10 minutes early to an event, you are late.

Be careful when selecting the dates of the conference.
Know the country's national and religious holidays, and what the weather will be like.

Be smart about shipping your materials.
Follow the applicable customs procedures and processes, or you might never see your packages.

Pay attention to contracts.
Contracts are different from country to country. In Europe, they may be one page, but deceptive in that you could still be liable for things that haven't been spelt out. Be sure to include the little details. 

Prepare trip kits.
Help attendees by providing an information kit in advance that can include passport and visa requirements and fees, basic cultural words and customs, safety considerations, what to expect going through customs, the weather, and what to pack.

Get the details you need to fix a proper budget. 
It can become complicated when trying to factor in exchange rates, especially when planning a year in advance. Learn about the host country's VAT (value added tax), what items can be reclaimed, and how to get the dollars back.

Elizabeth Warburton, manager, corporate operations, Xelay Acumen, a strategy and management consulting firm, offers advice related to the payment of international invoices which can vary from country to country.

"Often direct bank transfers are the easiest method for paying invoices related to special events, activities, or venues. Reduce the high cost of recurring bank transfer fees by setting up an account with or TransferWise," she says. 

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