6 Tips For Planning International Meetings

This article was originally written by Jordan McArthur and has been updated for relevancy.

With the abundance of technology available to meeting professionals, planning international meetings is becoming easier. But crossing borders can mean tackling a whole range of issues you may not have had to consider previously and have you searching for best practices. If you’re making the longitudinal leap, we’ve got 6 essential tips you won’t want to miss.

1. Speak the language(s).

Cultural sensitivity when planning international meetings is key. Examine the value of connecting with attendees where they’re most comfortable and consider what languages will be spoken at your meeting. We find that meeting planners in Canada, for instance, will often publish two versions of their guide – one in English and one in French, ensuring everyone is on the same page, regardless of “hello” or “bonjour.”

Meeting technologies are making it easier to talk the talk. Guidebook, for one, features automatic language detection. That means the app senses what language your device is set to and automatically adjusts the user interface to reflect that language. Guidebook currently supports English, French, German, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Spanish, and more (check out the most up-to-date list here).

2. Locate a local & leverage their knowledge.

If you want the inside scoop, it’s always best to collaborate with a native. In addition to helping you avoid potential place-related pitfalls, a local will also be able to make suggestions that will enrich your attendees’ overall experience. Keep in mind that for many of the travelers attending your meeting, the city or country is a destination in and of itself. They’ll be interested in insider tips, tourist attractions and restaurants in addition to the standard meeting information. When planning international meetings where attendees will have the freedom to be tourists, including this rich material in your mobile guide only increases its overall value.
Locals can also help you navigate language and cultural gaps, which makes them invaluable to your meeting planning success. They’ll be able to assist you with understanding nonverbal cues and local idioms while you’re making arrangements so you can get the best deal possible. Differing customs may impact your planning process, but locals will be able to get you through these fast!

Collaborative tools work best when planning international meetings long-distance. Guidebook’s dashboard feature allows you to give administrative access to other members of your team – no matter their location – enabling them to view and edit your app and making joining forces a super-simple task! Just as convenient is your ability to give certain people (say, speakers at your event) collaborative access to fill out their own speaker profile – and nothing else!

3. Take the trouble out of traveling.

You may not be able to control flight delays or grumpy customs agents, but you can use your mobile app to give your attendees the tools they need to make a successful (and safe) trip. Think about including a travel checklist, information about local laws and customs, or even where to find a grocery store. You may be a pro at planning international meetings, but many of your attendees will see this as major travel. They will thank you for helping put their minds at ease and feel welcome in a new place.

You can even use your app’s push notification feature to warn of any unexpected local travel conditions that might arise. With a mobile meeting app, you’ve created a built-in network that makes messaging a snap.

4. Go green and save green.

When planning international meetings, sustainability is on the minds of many – especially as European waste laws continue to tighten. Your mobile app supports an ever-growing green meetings initiative – but it’s also offsetting the costs of hosting your meeting in a far-away place. Mobile meeting apps eliminate the need for printing, packing and shipping agendas, which enables companies to be greener while also saving on cost and labor.

We all know that mobile meeting apps are saving us thousands of dollars in printing and shipping, so now let’s take that money and focus on uniting professionals that might not otherwise have the chance to connect in person. Just because your the international meeting you’re planning is scaling exponentially, it doesn’t necessarily mean the budget has to follow suit.

5. Encourage adoption now for maximum buy-in later.

Your attendees are already used to the convenience of accessing their mobile meeting app, so when they’re traveling abroad they’ll want to know – will my guide work across the pond? In short, of course it will! The key is proactivity on your part.

Encouraging early app adoption is a best practice for any meeting you’re planning, but it will become absolutely crucial if you’ve gone global. Bake app adoption into your communication strategy early on so that your attendees aren’t stressing over it later.

Take some time to allay your attendees’ fears that using the mobile app will cost them in data charges. Wayne Morris, Guidebook’s Chief Revenue Officer, reminds us:

“When overseas, roaming can attract expensive charges from your mobile network. The good news for international travelers is that Guidebook is native and won’t eat into your data plan.”

As long as your venue is equipped with wifi, a device in airplane mode with the wireless turned on will still continue to receive app updates and push notifications as you send them.

And rest assured that your app will be available regardless of the user’s app store country. Whether you’re planning a meeting in Iceland or Italy, your app will be discoverable and downloadable with a simple search and tap.

6. Continue to improve.

After you’ve pulled off a large-scale global event, you’ll probably want to take some time to yourself, and we don’t blame you! Take those extra days to steam your stress away in Rymättylä, Finland or soak in the impressive ocean views from Lamma Island, Hong Kong. But when you’re back to planning next year’s international meeting, make sure you’ve set yourself up to learn from this year.

Nothing ever goes exactly as planned, and that’s okay. Meeting planners are masters of improvisation – no problem is insurmountable with a little spur-of-the-moment ingenuity. But take time when all is said and done for some self-evaluation. Take advantage of Guidebook’s in-app survey feature to elicit feedback from your attendees. You never know what you’ll learn or what you’ll be able to improve!

Planning international meetings can be a daunting task, but it continues to be one that more and more planners are taking on. You’ve already mastered mobile tech – now let it make your meeting easier and the best that it can be. Get started on building your own mobile meeting app today!

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