Bonjour! Ciao! Hallå! Hallo! Hello! Hodi! Hola! こんにちは (Kon’nichiwa)! 你好 (Nǐ hǎo)! Ola! Здравствуйте (Zdravstvuyte)!
Just as we’ve recently witnessed at the Olympics in Brazil, some planners will take their meetings to far away destinations. These worldly folks require a bit more resources when it comes to the organization of their meetings.
Lucky for you, I have created this blog as a starting point from which you can launch your destination global meeting.
- US Department of State: A good place to start is the US Department of State, at this site you will be able to find the websites of the various US Embassies, each of which post notices, travel warnings, passport and visa information, plus lists of attorneys, doctors and hospitals. They also have an app for that – Smart Traveler App. Finally, they offer STEP, Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, a free service to allow US citizens and nationals traveling abroad to enroll their trip with the nearest US Embassy and Consulate.
- VAT: Value-Added Tax is a big deal. Many global planners cite that speaking with a claim company, very early on in your planning process and certainly before you make your final decision, is a must do. VAT guidelines change frequently; always search out the latest information. Also, carefully research claim companies before deciding which one to enlist for assistance. As well, consider reaching out to international meeting planner peers in your network. I have done that homework for you and have met with some of the best VAT reclamation companies and would be happy to connect you to them.
- Contracts: Before any contracts are created, the 2 parties will need to agree on some basics in regards to currency, language and law; they will need to approve which currency will be utilized, which language will be used (known as governing language) and which country’s laws will apply should disputes arise. As well, a force majeure clause is highly recommended; your organization’s lawyers should be enlisted so as to cover any and all unanticipated or unavoidable possibilities; which include acts of terrorism.
- FAQs: Your attendees will have the usual questions about what to wear, what to expect, weather info and more. A meeting abroad requires additional information including currency exchange, passports, security, time zone, jet lag and more.
- Cultural Differences: Research is going to be key and diving in to learn as much about the culture as possible will go a long way in helping your attendees be less anxious and feel more prepared. Some items to note are cultural norms that pertain to dining, tipping, clothing, greetings, hand gestures and more. Here is an area where my global HelmsBriscoe teammates can be very helpful.
- Exchange Rates: Not only will your attendees need to be aware of the exchange rates at time of travel, but during the negotiation process this can be a very big deal. You may need to ask your accounting department to become involved in this process and to help decide if it’s best to negotiate an exchange rate to guarantee the cost of your meeting. For this a Forward Contract, defined as a “customized contract between two parties to buy or sell an asset at a specified price on a future date,” will be required. There are many factors to consider during the decision making process; how the rates have fluctuated over the years, which currency will be used for payment and more.
Next week we will take a look at budgets, shipping, Visas and more!