Top 8 Tips for International Events

Planning an international event is no easy task.
I live in the US, so planning an event in another state has its own challenges. International events come with a unique set of challenges based on the country you plan the event in.
When planning an event, there are a million and one things that need to be done and sometimes it feels like they all need to be down NOW or maybe even yesterday.
Most likely….yesterday.
When I work with clients, I go through an extremely thorough discovery process to get their event started off on the right foot, but what happens when you come into the event planning process in the middle?
Well, let’s be honest, more often than not, it’s a total disaster. The client has bitten off more than they can chew. They are trying to run their business AND create an event and they know nothing about the latter. Then they go hunting for “HELP” because they can’t make money at their business now because they are too focused on planning this event and they end up in an ugly downward spiral!
Events By Lany to the rescue!
This actually happened with an event I planned. This client decided to host an event in a foreign country with a year lead time. Props! 12 month lead time on an event is great! Event planners LOVE this.
However, by the time I was hired only 3 months prior to the event, it was a mess. Let me be extremely clear, this is not meant to reflect badly on these business owners it is merely to show you what happens ALL THE TIME.
Three months prior to an event you need to be in final confirmation stages with everything and making final decisions on decor, food, tightening up a/v, lighting and staging setups and the like.
Not this time.
Three months prior to this event was like starting at the very beginning of planning an event. Thank heavens I know what I am doing otherwise I don’t think I could have pulled it off. I’m sure you’re saying “So what Lany, what’s the big deal?”.

  • This event was in a foreign country that is known not to be friendly to foreigners who come for business. Essentially, you can get kicked out and banned. Bye bye event hopes and dreams.
  • There were immigration and police issues that had to be addressed and…um…paid off
  • There were over 100 women traveling from all over the globe to attend this event.
  • 45+ speakers had to be organized (travel logistics, speaker bios, headshots, workshop session details, tech riders and more)
  • Entertainment, Agenda, Catering, Transportation, Outings, Parties and Swag all needed to be planned and set

To be honest, that’s not even the complete list because you can never quantify the millions of minute details that have to be taken care of.
If you decide to plan an event in another country, I want to share with you my TOP 8 TIPS that you need to pay attention too, need to know or need to do before you sign ANY contracts.

  1. Do you know anyone in that country? If so, ask them questions about immigration, exchange rates, locales, excursions, transportation, security, etc.
  2. Do your own research! Now that you have some initial information, go do your own homework. Is this country safe to travel to? What are the hard costs going to be for your attendees? What are your estimated event hard costs? What kind of immigration and security issues do you need to handle from the beginning?
  3. Travel to that country and visit it. Meet the locals. Be a tourist. Look at the areas you want to hold the event. Connect with the venues and hotel management staff. DO NOT book your venue site unseen.
  4. Test your market. Will your audience travel to another country for your event? Is it attractive to them to fly across the world for 3, 5 or 7 days? Can they afford it? Can YOU afford it?
  5. HAVE MONEY! Yes, you cannot plan an event; ANY event, without cash on hand. Credit cards work too! Make sure that you can pay your bills. You cannot just leave a foreign country without paying the venue, hotels and any other bills off in full. They can literally put you in jail. Have money and pay your bills, in full and on time.
  6. Plan ahead of time. DO NOT plan an international event (or any event for that matter) with less than 6 months lead time. Preferably 12-18 months lead time internationally is the best. You need to make sure that you can sell all the tickets and fill that event and most people typically need more than 6 months to plan to travel internationally.
  7. Hire a professional. Having someone on your team that actually knows what they are doing, what to look out for and how to negotiate contracts is necessary. I spoke to a prospect the other day and she was going to have a friend of hers who lives in Paris help her plan a conference in Paris. My radar went up on that one. If your friend is not an event planner, don’t hire them to “HELP” you. That’s got trouble written all over it.
  8. Have an attorney review ALL contracts prior to signing. A client of mine signed a contract for their venue BEFORE I came on board in the event planning process. After reviewing the contract, my first question was, “How do we get you out of this contract?”. It was a strangle contract which means that no matter what happened they were obligated to pay the almost $90,000 USD to the venue. Meaning war, flood, acts of God or anything else under Force Majeure didn’t matter, they still had to pay. There was absolutely NO way for them to cancel the contract without payment in full. That contract would have been an illegal contract to be bound in the US, but because it was international anything goes.

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