Walt Disney Parks and Resorts is right: It really is a small world, after all. Nowhere is that more evident than at meetings and conventions, which thanks to the global economy are attracting more international attendees than ever before.
If you want to claim a slice of the international pie, however, you'll need to do a lot more than market to overseas professionals. According to Successful Meetings contributor Justin Cheshire, you'll also have to work hard to make them feel welcome.
"The challenges arise not only in attracting targeted attendees, but also in hosting them in a way that makes them feel welcome and accepted," says Cheshire, director of marketing and business development for A/V service provider Cheshire Audio Visual.
According to Cheshire, the best way to make international attendees feel welcome is to make your meeting a multilingual event.
For instance, create multilingual promotional materials. "Create conference promotional materials, a conference website page, and a registration page in the organization's native language, but also have key elements, presentations, and registration information translated into the other language(s) of the countries from which you expect attendees to come," Cheshire advises. "Have your promotional materials professionally translated. Do not use Google to translate them, or you may not look professional or interested in that international clientele if an error or misuse of a word arises."
When possible, you also should have multilingual registration staff. "If that is not possible, request a multilingual concierge," Cheshire says. "Yet another option is to set up an account with a legitimate interpretation service … where attendees can call in on a toll-free line for interpretation assistance in their native language."