You’ve been tossing the idea around for a while. You think it’s time to bring in more international exhibitors and visitors to your U.S.-based events, but you don’t know how.
Here are seven ways to begin the journey and build those international contacts:
1. Get educated. Attend IMEX America next week in Las Vegas, November’s UFI Congress in Bogota, Colombia, or IAEE in Los Angeles in December and take the international classes. Many things are done differently off shore. Many.
2. Know that embarking down this path is a long-term commitment of resources. Plan on spending money and time before it all pays off. Please note this phrase again: Long Term Commitment.
Many U.S. organizers and associations have made the mistake of jumping off the international ship after less than a year. In most other countries, relationships need to be nurtured and take time to develop. It may take several trips overseas and years to cement relations.
3. Reach out to fellow show organizers, associations and media in other countries. Make sure the first contact comes from one of your top executives and not office intern or they’ll take it as an insult. A huge insult. As in a possibly-irreparable-damage-to-our-relationship-before-we-got-started kind of insult. Be prepared to email and call a few times before you make contact. It doesn’t mean they don’t want to talk. It is a cultural thing.
4. Use the U.S. Department of Commerce International Trade Administration. There are experts here and abroad at U.S. Embassies and Consulates whose sole job is to help sell U.S. products and services offshore. They are overworked, but very helpful and friendly folks. While they won’t help you sell exhibit space or sponsorships, they can help bring in the buyers. They also run the International Buyers Program.