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International: Making The Journey Overseas

Some of the best advice for small companies participating in international shows for the first time comes from other small companies that have gone before them. Here are three tips from veteran international exhibitors:

1. Make technology your friend. To cope with the problem of limited personnel to handle the logistics of a recent trade show in France, Belmont Research's exhibit manager Lisa Mitchell relied heavily on the Internet. Electronic mail proved to be the most valuable time-saver. "It's the smartest way to deal with different time zones," she says. Mitchell was able to receive confirmation of orders and hotel arrangements, schedule meetings, and organize booth logistics while copying the messages immediately to other members of the exhibiting team. "Almost everyone I needed to communicate with (overseas) was available by e-mail or had a Web site I could access," she says.

2. Allow for "adjustment" time. Plan to arrive at the show at least two days early to deal with the jet lag, says Jay Stacy, trade show manager, HGM Inc. Also, most pavilion exhibitors send only one person, who is expected to set up and staff the booth all in one day. If that's your situation, realize that this situation can be exhausting, and pace yourself.

3. Talk to other pavilion exhibitors before and during the show. Ask the pavilion organizer for contact names of fellow exhibitors. Heed their warnings regarding food and safety (in the country where the show is held), advises Stacey. Also, you may get some good ideas from them about what works and doesn't work in a pavilion setting or in the country in which you're exhibiting.

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