Tips For Meeting Far, Far Away
As planners, we move in six different directions on any given day. So when we are asked to “provide more variety” or “increase attendance” in our meetings, we must find creative solutions. Taking your meeting abroad is a great solution. Yes, it may require a little more research/work in the beginning, and take you in seven different directions, but it often pays dividends in the end.
Taking a group abroad can and should be rewarding for the host and attendees alike. For a planner, it opens up your destination options; exotic locations make great backdrops for meetings. Any new international location will provide fresh sightseeing and team-building options. To aid in boosting your hosts’ attendance, a true destination location often increases turnout. If this group meets yearly, shifting to an international spot will provide welcome variety. Have fun with this planning process. After all, for many of your attendees, this will truly be a once-in-a-lifetime trip!
Tips for International Planning
- Contact the destination CVB/Tourism Office to get your planning off the ground. Be sure to ask about any VAT refunds and departure taxes. VAT refunds can be up to as much as 20 percent in some locations, and that money can really help offset additional cost associated with international travel.
- Notify attendees immediately of passport and vaccination-related requirements.
- Contact a destination management company as they can provide local transportation, tours, events, introductions to local hotels, and other services. In Japan, for example, DMCs can often get a better hotel rate for your group than you could by negotiating directly.
- Contact the Group Sales Manager at partnering airlines to get flight patterns and best pricing.
- Currency, find out with the conversion rate and how that will affect your budget. Be sure you also share this rate with attendees.
- Language barriers – many hotels/tour groups offer a bilingual staff member if you request one. If the hotel/tour operator cannot provide one, hire an interpreter.
- Notify the U.S. Embassy of your meeting/conference 3 weeks prior to arrival.
- Provide a welcome amenity to your guests that includes: regional information, maps, points of interest, lists of common phrases in the language of the host country, and pertinent etiquette tips.
What tips do you have for international planning? Where have you hosted international meetings? We’d love to hear from you.