Foreign Exhibiting index article

Whether you already have a presence in international markets or are looking to expand, you might have considered attending an international trade show.  These can be a great way to expand your reach.  Foreign exhibiting will enable you to get both customers and partners in the host country and extend your business’s reach.

However, the prospect of international exhibiting can be a daunting one.  Attending an international trade show requires a lot more planning than is needed to go to a domestic show.  There are visas to secure, products to ship, language barriers to overcome, overseas exhibition services to source and local customs to learn.  But if you are going to dip your toe in the water, here we have some tips for foreign exhibiting.

Why exhibit abroad?

There are several benefits to foreign exhibiting:

  • Raise awareness of your brand in the host country
  • Get to know the local market and competition
  • Gather new customers
  • Meet new partners or resellers who can help grow your business
  • Discover local developments in your industry

Foreign Exhibiting: Things to consider:

1. Local customs and etiquette

You should familiarise yourself with local customs and business etiquette to avoid causing offence.  For example, in parts of the Middle East, you should never use your left hand when you give someone a business card, and in many Asian countries, you should use both hands. In Japan, China, Singapore and other Asian countries, you should spend several seconds studying any business card you are given, and you should never put the card in your pocket or write on it in the presence of the giver.  In Mediterranean culture, people don’t like to talk business right away. They prefer to take time to get to know people a bit before starting a business pitch.

Greetings are another thing to consider, a handshake is not always customary.  In Japan people bow from the waist, in parts of South East Asia they bow or nod with their hands together.

2. Foreign exhibiting and language

Although English is the language of international business, it is a good idea to learn some basics of the local language when exhibiting at an international trade show.  You will be more popular if you can at least greet people in their own language.  If English isn’t widely spoken it may be necessary to hire a translator or have someone on the stand who can speak the local language.  You will need to get your brochures translated and may like to source graphics for your stand using overseas exhibition services which are in the local language.

Foreign Exhibiting: People talking at a trade show stand

3. Payment methods

You need to have the ability to process foreign cards and your bank needs to operate in the host country.  You may need more than a credit card machine.  For example. 49% of people in Latin America and the Caribbean are unbanked, and cash vouchers make it possible for them to pay digitally. There are many other accepted forms of payment, including bank transfers and instalments, and the popularity of payment methods differs from country to country.

4. Renting or buying your stand

You need to decide whether to ship your stand from this country or rent one locally from overseas exhibition services.  Shipping can involve high costs and potentially lengthy customs delays, so you need to factor this into your timescale.  If you plan to ship your stand, will you be able to assemble it yourself or will you need a contactor to do it for you?  If you are buying your stand make sure the contractor shows you how to assemble it if you plan to do it yourself.  A modular stand that is lightweight and folds up small will be the best option if you plan to ship it.

Renting a stand locally can be a good option as the contractor will know the exhibition procedures which can vary from country to country.  For example, in Japan, the contractor is responsible for all rubbish generated in set-up, whereas in the UK this falls to the exhibitor.  A local contractor will be aware of all the regulations and additional costs.

Foreign Exhibiting: Exhibition stand at an overseas venue.

5. Dress Code

You need to find out what the appropriate attire is at an international trade show.  In some countries, formal business suits are what is expected, whereas in others a more casual look will be ok.  Make sure your outfits are not going to offend those from another culture or religion.

6. Facilities at the venue

Will parking be available for staff?  If so do you need to reserve it?  Where do you load and unload your stand?  Can the venue be reached by public transport?  Where are the nearest hotels and restaurants?  These are all things you need to research.

7. Hospitality

What form of hospitality will visitors expect at the event?  Is it a good idea to offer drinks and snacks?  What will other exhibitors be doing?  Offering refreshments can be a good way to entice visitors to your stand but they need to be appropriate to the local custom.

8. Covid restrictions

While restrictions may have been lifted in the UK, this is not the case in many other countries.  Check to make sure your staff meet the requirements, that they have been vaccinated, and inform them of testing requirements.  Check to see if masks must be worn at indoor venues and whether you need to provide hand sanitiser and implement social distancing.

9. Travel arrangements

Check to see if you and your staff need visas to travel to the host country.  These may take time to arrange.  If you are shipping products or your stand there will be customs requirements to deal with.

Conclusion

Exhibiting at an international trade show can open up a whole new market for your business.  You can gain new customers, partners and resellers to help your business grow.  But it does come with additional costs.  Shipping and travel costs can really add to your budget, and in some countries like the USA exhibiting is significantly more expensive.  But foreign exhibiting is an easy way to broaden your reach.

For help with your next exhibition, call us on 01202 723 500 or email designteam@quadrant2design.com.