Being an event professional comes with a lot of challenges – you are often dealing with hotels, entertainers, decorators, various technologies, food and beverage services, and an entire on-site staff. But what if you have a meeting or event that needs to go out of the country?
Now, on top of everything, you’re facing late-night conference calls and waiting for hours on email confirmations. Add in customs and a language barrier, and it might seem like too much to handle. The best way to tackle this challenge if is to be armed with all the information you can find and remember a few key tips.
1: Start as early as you can.
When you’re working with a 6+ hour difference in time and a customs process that may be slow, the earlier you start planning, the better. You need to be prepared to deal with hiccups along the way and have everything shipped as much as 3 weeks before the program begins. If something goes wrong the difference between detour and disaster is cushion time.
2: Consider using a Destination Management Company, or DMC
If you’re unfamiliar with a city or region a DMC can be invaluable in the planning process. Consider them experts on the ground that can help you navigate more like a local. From tours and ground transportation to restaurants and off-site recommendations they can be a good resource. Choosing a good DMC is worth the time and can sometimes save you from inflated processes that come with being a foreign customer.
3: Drive the bus – be in charge of keeping detailed records over email and on the phone.
Having good records of what was discussed and decided can help shorten and cut off potential issues. Making sure you keep details in writing will be an immense help if something doesn’t go according to plan. One great tactic is to send follow-up emails with recaps on every decision made after a call with anyone at your destination. Good advice in any situation, detailed accounts of communication becomes essential when navigating the increased complexity of an international meeting or event.
4: Go with the flow.
This is true for any event you plan, but it’s important to remember when everything with your hotel in Turks and Caicos seems like a logistical nightmare: Not everything will go according to plan but you’ve got this. The mark of a truly great event professional is the ability to adapt, stay positive and take everything into stride. The relationships and trust you’ve forged with your planning team and the team at your destination will carry you through.