Skip to main content

8 tips for exhibiting abroad


Exhibiting abroad

If you exhibit on the international stage, there’s a lot of things to consider. Where in the world you’re exhibiting will have a huge impact on the kind of stand and marketing material you produce. It’s important to take local customs into consideration and create a display that will appeal to the audience in question. 

Many countries have very specific rules and expectations when it comes to exhibiting. For example, in Japan, the contractor is responsible for all rubbish generated during setup – whereas in the UK the onus falls on the exhibitor. So, if you’re planning on exhibiting on a global scale, here’s some things to keep in mind. 

1. Language
Consider what language you may need to become accustomed to. It’s certainly polite to be able to speak a few key phrases. Think about whether or not people are likely to speak any English, and what mix of languages you might find. Then you will know what language all your marketing material and stand content should be in, or if you should invest in a translator. 

2. Greetings
Greetings are entirely different around the world. Not everyone around the world greets someone with a handshake. For example, people in Japan will bow from the waist and people in India place palms together as though praying and bend or nod. Knowing how to greet people appropriately will certainly get you off to a better start and make a positive impression on those viewing your stand. 

3. Local customs & etiquette
As well as greetings, you may want to research and study local customs before exhibiting. Otherwise you could unknowingly end up offending people. For example, giving a watch to a Chinese person could send the wrong message as a timepiece symbolises death. 

Also consider how people approach business and networking in the country in question, for example, in Japan, you should present business cards with your palms facing up, and refrain from writing on cards you receive, as it is disrespectful. You will also find 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.

Exhibiting abroad table
4. Local exhibiting rules
You will also need to do a bit of research into local exhibiting rules. For example, is it a smoking or non-smoking venue? What are the rules for discarding exhibition rubbish and waste? Are there any additional charges for exhibiting? 

5. Hospitality at events
Find out what sort of hospitality people expect at events in the country you are exhibiting in. Do people expect light refreshments, or just a drink or two? Consider what sort of food and drink is acceptable to serve or offer as freebies in different cultures.

6. Dress codes
Dress codes can vary substantially around the world. Exhibiting in some countries requires super smart suits and business attire, whereas others prefer a more informal dress. Make sure what you are wearing won’t offend anyone who is from a culture or part of a religion that has strict dress requirements. 

7. Facilities available
Check what facilities are available at the venue in question well in advance. For example, will there be places to charge electrical equipment? Are you allowed to play music in the background? Lots of little things like this can have an impact on how smoothly your day goes. 

8. Transport and parking
Where is your exhibition venue and how easily can staff and attendees get there? Is there sufficient parking and public transport? This kind of research before a big international event is invaluable. 

In conclusion

The key to exhibiting abroad is planning, and lots of it. You really do need to research your venue and host city carefully if it’s somewhere you’ve never been before. Rules between venues change from country to country, even city to city. Why not download our guide to British exhibition venues? It’s free and has lots of great hints and tips to help you have a smooth event.