International Business Etiquette for Global Travelers

With business opportunities arising in even the most remote locations, traveling for business, be it for trade shows, meetings or events, is becoming increasingly popular. Companies are increasing their travel budgets and frequently, sales representatives are traveling across the globe for short meetings just to “seal the deal”.

Given the popularity of corporate travel, it is important for people to know the market in which they conduct business as well as know the etiquettes of conducting business in different areas that are relevant to their business.

Before traveling to a new region or country, learn about the culture and business dos and don’ts. Here are some things worth considering when traveling for business.

Attire – are you expected to come to the meeting dressed extremely formal, business casual or just casual? In some places, removing your jacket in a meeting can be considered quite rude. Find out if business is usually discussed in a formal setting like an office or in a casual setting such as over drinks or a meal.

Punctuality – are you expected to be right on time or slightly after the agreed time? How late is considered late?

Greeting –  read up on appropriate greeting for men and women. Is it a firm handshake, a kiss on the cheek or a hug that is considered appropriate?

Business card exchange – in certain countries such as China and Japan, the way you handle business cards is extremely important. Business cards are presented with both hands and accompanied by a nod. They are then examined carefully before being put away nicely.

Gifting – are you expected to bring a gift for your host?

Titles – are you expected to refer to your business associates by their first name or do they prefer to be addressed by a title such as Ms. or Mr.

Conversation – are you expected to jump straight into business conversation or is it more of a social meeting where small talk leads the conversation? If you’re having a meeting over a meal, should you finish the meal before starting business discussions.

Food preference – check to see if there are certain items that they generally do not eat or drink. This is particularly important if you are inviting them out for a meal while on your visit, or if they are coming to visit you. This is also important to know if you are bringing them a consumable gift item.

Tip – it’s always good to  know what ice-breaking topics might come in handy when you’re stuck for conversation starters. Try  to be up to date on hot topics such as their national sport. Discussing politics and religion is usually a  taboo at business meetings so it is best to avoid these topics to

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Product Display Tips

Trade shows are an excellent place to put your products on display for a wide audience of people who are probably all in your industry or interested in products like yours. Brining your product to a place with so many potential buyers is reason enough to be at a trade show (just make sure the trade show is right for your company – tips here). From a buyers point of view, being at a trade show is good because you can see the product up close, get a better feel for it than you would in a picture and also compare a few different manufacturers to see whose product best suits their needs.

Like they would in a store, products need to be displayed in a manner that is eye-catching and makes them tempting to buy. How you display the products can really make an impact on the sales you have. First things first, you need to decide what you need in order to display them nicely. Speak to your contractor and give them information like:

– the size of the products you want to put on display

– whether they will on the floor or require a stand or special structure for display

– if they will need to be secured/locked for safety

– if you need electricity to promote the products

– if there will be a product demonstration

– if there is a new product that needs more promotion or needs to be highlighted more than the others

– if any of the products require special attention or care

This information will help your stand builder come up with a design and solution that will help you display your products in a way that suits your company’s needs. Here are some tips on promoting your products at your trade show booth.

  1. Don’t overload the booth – don’t bring too many products with you. You want to avoid creating confusing clutter and giving your display the appearance of a yard sale. Bring along your best-sellers, new products and products that you consider key to the success of your trade show display.
  2. Have a product demonstration – keep it short and sweet (2-4minutes). A convincing demonstration can do wonders for product sales.
  3. Support your products with graphics that highlight the benefits of using the products. Tell their story with good, interesting graphics that will help you make a sale. Highlight their key advantages and what makes them worth buying.
  4. Lighting – ensure that the lighting is right. You don’t want to have a shadow over your products or leave them sitting around in the dark getting no attention. Use lighting that will highlight them and attract people towards them. Use special effects and brighter lighting for products that you want to place extra emphasis on. Speak to your trade show contractor for lighting solutions.
  5. Customise each product’s display based on their size and weight. If your product is huge and cannot be put on a stand, put some graphics around it or hanging signs that will attract more people and bring more attention to the product. If the products are small, amplify them with demos, graphics and videos that show them enlarged.
  6. Bring the products to life – create an environment that is similar to that which the products would actually be used in. You can use images, graphics, props or your booth design to show your potential buyers what the product would be like in the real world. Use the suggestive technique to show the items in use. Decide on a theme or look and promote this consistently throughout your trade show promotional materials.

Give your brand the personality it deserves – defining your brand

For your brand to stand out from all the others it is important for you to give it a unique flair that helps others remember it.  If you have ever sent out an RFP for a trade show exhibit, or any other marketing-related service, you will be familiar with companies asking about your brand to get a better understanding of what it is that they can do to best represent your brand.

What you do not want is a random assortment of logos, tones and voices floating around the internet that make your brand one big concoction that is difficult to understand and define.

When you understand your brand, you will give suppliers and vendors a better understanding and your brand will get the representation it deserves.

  1. Go fishing – gather all the brand-related things you have including brochures, flyers, videos, banners, etc. Go through them with a critical eye and narrow them down to the ones that define the brand you want to embody.
  2. Describe your brand in three words – what do you want your customers to think about when your brand comes to mind? Give your brand its very own personality.
  3. Define the qualities of the products and services you provide.
  4. Ensure your marketing personnel and copywriters are on the same page so that your brand voice is consistent across your material.
  5. Focus on what differentiates – it is not necessary that you blend in with your competition or others in the industry. Don’t be afraid to be different, set trends and think outside the box. Be bold, daring and extremely innovative.
  6. Determine where you stand in the market – assess the competition and do your research so you know where in the market your company fits in.

Trade show – front desk hostesses

Models, luxury, extravagance and over the top giveaways can be a great way to attract visitors to your booth. However, it is important to remember that your hostesses are the first people your booth visitors will encounter when they come to your booth. Many companies choose to have staff members present at the reception because they know the industry and have knowledge of the company. However, if you opt to go with an agency that provides models and hostesses, it is important to do it the right way.

Before the show

Information – once your hostesses have been confirmed, send them a company presentation or material they can read to learn more about the company. It is important that visitors to the booth have their questions answered. Let them know that if there are questions they cannot answer, they should direct the visitor to a member of staff.

Sizes and measurement – this is if you are arranging uniforms for them. Uniforms should be well fitted and neat looking so make sure you get exact measurements to avoid a shabby appearance.

Organizing –  you need to meet the hostesses the day before the show. Give them their uniforms, let them know what the dress code is (hair, nails, shoes) and arrange timings including breaks to ensure someone is at the front desk at all times. Give them instructions, let them know what time to be there the next day and cover all their duties so there are no surprises. Your hostesses should be well groomed, polite and welcoming to visitors.

At the show

Introduction – introduce the hostesses to the staff members and let them know who to go to if they need help, show them the key members of the team and let them know which department each person is from so they can direct visitors to the right member of staff.

Write down a list of responses for them – have easy answers for general questions like “What does this company do?” or “Where is the company headquartered?”. These are the questions that they will be getting asked the most so it is important for them to be able to answer with confidence.

Collecting business cards – your reception desk acts like a gate to your booth. Everyone that enters your booth should be met with or greeted by a hostess. Here, you should collect business cards from everyone that comes into the booth. This will help you expand your database with people that are interested in the company and you can use this list to send out a post-show thank you for visiting mail blast.

Handing out brochures – no visitor should leave your booth unattended. If your hostesses are unable to attend to a query and no one at your booth is available to meet with them, they should hand the visitor a brochure and tell them to have a seat until someone is free to meet with them. If the booth is very busy, hand them a brochure and ask for their business card so someone can get back to them as soon as possible.

General booth etiquettes – if your visitor is waiting to meet with someone, have them seated. If there is catering at the booth, offer them a drink and let them know that the person has been informed.

Interrupting meetings – if a visitor with a scheduled meeting comes to the booth and the person they are there to meet is in another meeting, it is important not to barge into the meeting and announce it. Quietly walk over, say “sorry to interrupt” and quietly tell the person that they have someone there to see them or just hand them the business card.

Tips to have your sales soaring at a trade show

If you have been to a trade show before, you already know this – trade shows require a hard-sell approach. Here are some tips on how you can make the most out of your first meeting with potential clients at trade shows.

Make yourself available – if you see someone approach your stand, attend to them right away. People have extremely busy schedules combined with short attention spans during trade shows so the quicker you get to them, the better. Most people will not have the time to wait at your booth for someone to attend to them. If there are people walking away from your booth because they cannot get help could potentially be a huge loss.

Engage the person – the way you greet a visitor to your booth reflects your level of professionalism and interest in the conversation. Ask direct questions that engage the visitor and prompt them to ask about your products or services.

Practice – you need to know your product inside out and be confident when you are trying to convince potential clients that they need your product. Write out a few variations of a sales pitch and rehearse it to family and friends to see which one sounds most effective. Take on board the criticism and adjust your pitch accordingly. Refine your pitch so that it lasts approximately 30 seconds and includes what your product/service is and how it can benefit that individual or their business.

Actions speak louder than words – if you are selling a product and having one at the booth is possible, demonstrate it to the client or show them a working example rather than trying to convince them verbally.

Ask questions – your goal is to find out who the person is, why they need your product or service and whether or not they are the final decision maker. Ask questions to find out why they might be interested in your product and offer them solutions.

Do your research – know which companies are going to be at a show and customise your pitch for each one based on the solutions you feel your company can offer them. Know who you are going to meet and set up a meeting in advance.

Finally, look smart, talk clearly and concisely and try not to take up too much of their time. Don’t forget to take their contact details so you can follow up with them afterwards.

What you need to know about Drayage

If you have exhibited at a trade show in the United States, you are most likely going to be familiar with the word Drayage. If you are not familiar with the word, Drayage refers to the cost of handling goods. For most first-time exhibitors, drayage is an unexpected cost that can set you back significantly.

At a trade show, drayage or material handling refers to the movement of your exhibit materials from your contractor or carrier’s vehicle to the trade show booth space you have rented for the exhibition. At most large exhibitions, hundreds of exhibitors have their booth materials arriving to the same location at the same time (show organisers usually give you move-in dates and most contractors will take advantage of the full amount of time so materials usually arrive at the same time). To ensure efficiency and organisation, the show organisers usually appoint an official contractor who is responsible for distributing these materials to the correct booth space.

Rates for drayage vary at different trade shows and in different exhibition halls but it is usually CWT (the weight per 100lbs in the US) multiplied by a pre-determined rate. The timing as well as the difficulty of handling the material also plays a part in the rate. It is important to remember that drayage works both ways – for the movement of your material from the warehouse to the booth space and also for the movement of the material back to the warehouse when the show is over.

Lowering the cost of drayage

Avoid small or loose items

Packages usually have a minimum cost so even if it’s a small package you will most likely have to pay the minimum cost per package. Speak to your contractor to ensure there are not many small packages arriving at the warehouse. Packing your entire exhibit into one large container might cost an arm and leg for shipment but it will most likely be less than what you will pay in drayage costs. Group any small containers or cartons into one large pallet.

Packaging

The packaging used to ship your exhibit can play a huge role in drayage costs. The less time and effort it takes for your booth to be moved, the less the cost of drayage will be. Palletized and crated exhibits are easier to move than a pad-wrapped one, for example.

Weight

Because of the way drayage is calculated, the less your exhibit weighs, the lower the drayage will cost.

Be punctual

If your booth arrives at the warehouse past the deadline then expect a penalty or additional costs on the amount calculated for drayage.

Be on the lookout for good deals

Many show organisers have put together a drayage package deal for exhibitors. Ask the organisers and read through the exhibition manual.

Crush the competition – how to stand out at a trade show

  1. Have a unique giveaway – everyone picks up mugs, pens and swag that we’re all well too familiar with. Try giving out something fun, quirky and useful – something that will give people a break from what they usually end up with. It doesn’t have to break the bank – a simple but different item that you can place your logo on. Even better, think of a giveaway that everyone would want and would have to stand in line for. When people see long lines, they always want to know what is going on so create curiosity and have visitors lining up for whatever it is that you are giving away.
  2. Monitor the competition in advance. Check their social media pages, see what their presence has been like at other exhibitions and know what you are up against. Don’t go and copy them but do things that will set you apart. It’s important to know what all the big dogs are doing so start monitoring!
  3. Invest in a phenomenal display – regardless of the size of the space you have, creating a display that catches peoples’ eye and has people talking about you is what you want. What you want to avoid is a sad looking table at the corner of an exhibition that no visitor is enticed by. The more engaging and fun your company looks, the more visitors you will get.
  4. Be the company that people want to be “seen at” – throw a party at your booth, an after party or create hype. Even if your company is not that big, make noise like it is HUGE! You want to be the one with an interactive booth, fun staff and good vibes. Be a young company that exudes energy and is the life of the party – engagement is the way forward.
  5. Have a fun presentation or short engaging visual content like a video ready for your sales people – most trade show visitors have had it with sales pitches a few hours into the show. Help your sales team grab their attention by providing them with something fun and catchy.
  6. Pre-show marketing – don’t forget the importance of social media and email campaigns to let everyone know you will be there and why they should stop by your booth.
  7. Booth location – be extremely fussy when it comes to picking the location of your booth. You don’t want a display right at the corner at the very back where no one is going to pass by. Find something central or on a busy aisle where you know people are going to see you.
  8. Be creative and in the moment – use social media and other live ways to connect with audiences who are at the show and the ones who are sitting at home or at their office. Make it fun, be creative and do something different that will get people talking. Word of mouth is a blessing at trade shows.
  9. If you have news, contact the press well in advance to ensure they have your story and try to get as much PR coverage at the exhibition as possible. Here are some tips.
  10. Sponsorship – get the most bang for your buck. If you have decided to go down this path, choose your sponsorship locations wisely and do your research so you know what you’re getting in terms of exclusivity and visibility. More on this here.

What to consider when making a budget for a Trade Show

Your budget for a trade show will provide the basis for computing and determining your Return on Investment. For this reason, it is important to ensure that you have calculated everything and that it is all accurate. The aim is to know exactly how much was spent and what came out of it.

First, you need to make sure that the exhibition you are considering is the right one for you. Will you have access to an abundance of potential clients and reach your target market?

Things to add to your budget:

Registration – badges for your employees, contractors and possibly big clients

Space hire – the space you are hiring for your exhibition booth

Booth design and build – contractor costs

Drayage – ask your contractor if this is included in their price. It most likely will not be and if it is, they could be asking you for a lot more than if you paid the organizers directly

Graphics and signage – are you printing graphics to have at your booth? How much did that cost? Do you need to pay for shipment to get them there?

Sponsorship – what, if anything, are you going to sponsor? Will it be visible and is it worth it? Put every last thing in the budget

Electricity, water, Wi-Fi, phone connection – usually, your contractor will take care of booking these for you based on your requirements but the cost will be for your company to handle

Shipment – will your marketing materials be sent over with a courier? Will your staff attending the show be taking it with them? Include shipment costs of the booth, marketing collateral and anything else that is being shipped over for use at the exhibition

Swag – include giveaways, prizes, brochures and flyers

Installation and Dismantling – do you have a small booth that can be put together easily? If you’re paying a company to put it up and take it down for you, add this cost too

Staffing – who is attending the exhibition from your company? Include flights, accommodation, per diem and any other staff-related expenses. Do you need to hire serving staff, hostesses, receptionists, models or speakers? Include that too.

You might have a lot more to add to the list, just be careful not to forget anything. It is important that everything is accounted for and that you are able to calculate every last dime spent at the show so you can determine your ROI.

Trade shows can be such a powerful marketing tool, if used correctly. It is worth your while doing a thorough amount of research before you book a space at a trade exhibition. Trade shows can work out to be quite pricey so make sure it is the right trade show for your company. Trade shows are a quick and efficient way to gain industry insights. It might be a trade exhibition that everyone is going to but that does not mean that it is right for you. To ensure that the trade show is in line with your marketing strategy, read the tips below.

Determine your objectives – decide why you want to participate at a tradeshow and who you want to reach. Do you want to go there to make a name for your company in the industry, reach new potential customers or meet existing ones? Is the purpose of exhibiting to showcase a new product or service? Determine why you are exhibiting and who you are trying to reach first. Go through your marketing strategy and decide if exhibiting at trade shows is what your company needs right now. The most important thing is to start off by deciding what it is that you want to accomplish by exhibiting at a trade show.

Set a budget – estimate the cost of the show including staff expenses, travel expenses, sponsorships and advertising and booth costs. Make a budget and decide if you can handle all these costs and if they would be worth the investment.

Make a list of industry trade shows – do your homework. See what industry shows are out there, which have the most visitors and the best pre-show marketing and where you can reach the largest relevant audience. Also, ask your biggest customers which industry shows they attend. Monitor competitors to see which trade shows they exhibit at, if all your competitors are there then it will most likely be worth your while too.

See if your competitors are attending –

Go as a visitor first – whenever possible, visit the show personally and get a feel for it. Is it busy, fast-paced and eventful? Are the key industry leaders present? Take a walk around, see who’s there and decide if it is something you think your company would benefit from. Evaluate other opportunities such as prime sponsorship locations, advertising opportunities and ideal booth locations.

Consider timing and location – geographical location can make all the difference. At many shows, more than 50% of the attendees come from within a 200-mile radius of the location. Consider your distribution area and target audience and decide if that location is important for your business. See if there are any other shows coinciding with this one that may affect attendance. Another important factor is political stability in the location that may affect attendance.

Check the show’s history and understand what audience will be there – you can usually find this information on the show’s official website. See how long they have been around and how many exhibitors have been present at the last few shows. Also see how many visitors attend the show and if you cannot find it online, ask the show organizers to send you visitor demographics from previous shows. With this information in hand, you can determine if the show will help you gain prospect leads and lead you directly to new customers. Knowing the size and demographics of the audience can help you make an informed decision. Check if the show is growing year after year and determine whether your company can service the new business that the show might bring in.

Identifying your goals and doing sufficient research will help you decide if a trade show is right for you. At the end of the day, you need to make sure that your presence is a valuable investment and that the price is worth the benefit.

Choosing a prime location for your trade show booth

At any trade show, your main objective would be to drive traffic to your booth so you can collect leads and essentially, acquire new customers for your business.

Did you know that the location of your booth plays a vital role in the success your company has at a trade exhibition? It is directly linked to the number of visitors your booth will get. Here are some tips on choosing the perfect location for your booth.

Relevance – the busiest area at a trade show might not be right for you. Choose a location that is surrounded with companies offering similar products or services. If a visitor is in that area, they are probably looking for something that you have to offer. Being in an area where everyone else offers something different to you might help you stand out but the risk is that they might not have any interest in what you sell.

Be strategic – choose a booth that is close to areas with higher footfall such as the restrooms, food and beverage area, seminar rooms, etc. You don’t have to be positioned right next to them but it would be useful to choose a location in close proximity to busier areas. These busier locations could bring you extra traffic. Although areas with high traffic are desirable, there are some that are worth avoiding such as entrances and exits. These areas are usually so crowded that visitors don’t end up noticing exhibits in the area. The key is to search for less-congested areas within high-traffic areas.

Use prior event knowledge – if you get the chance, visit the show before you exhibit. If you exhibited at the last show, use knowledge gained from this to see where you can better yourself in terms of location. Where possible, try to avoid being near companies that have loud booths or distracting displays. A noisy booth right next to you is a sure way to discourage visitors from stopping at your booth.

Corner or aisle – try to choose a location that is in the front of a main aisle where many people might be passing. A corner booth at an intersection will also likely attract more visitors.

Book early – needless to say, prime locations are the first to be reserved. If you plan in advance and you need which trade shows you plan to attend, find out when the floor plan will be released and book your space as soon as you can.

It is important to remember that regardless of your location, your company needs the right kind of promotion and marketing. A booth location alone is not going to sell your products or services. From pre-show marketing, social media, media relations, sponsorships and post-show marketing, you need to start months in advance to ensure your efforts do not go to waste. The right combination of these marketing tools will ensure you have a successful show.