Question: Is it better for an American trade show exhibitor going to Europe or Asia to rent a trade show booth abroad or ship a trade show exhibit from the U.S.?
Answer: It makes better sense logistically and economically to rent a trade show display in the foreign country where it will be exhibited.
Why? For starters, the savings on round trip international shipping and handling charges are substantial.
Also, it turns out that each country has a distinct set of trade show requirements due to the unique characteristics of that nation’s business styles. For instance, with storage space at a premium in Japan, it is common for a custom trade show booth to appear in only one trade show. In Japan, a trade show booth is often destroyed after an event, thereby eliminating the need for storage space.
When exhibiting in other countries, this “build-and-burn” booth concept is common because the exhibitor is often unwilling to store a trade show exhibit or have it shipped back to their country. Consequently, lesser-grade materials are used on the one-time trade show display since the trade show booth will not be used again.
In Europe, it’s customary for trade show booths to have fully functioning kitchens, dishwashers, four-burner stoves, and full-size refrigerators. This is because of the business culture of Europeans, who expect hospitality in their trade show display arenas, according to Candy Adams, a San Diego-based independent exhibit-management consultant, trainer, speaker and writer known as The Booth Mom®. She says the overseas exhibitor often hires local students to pick up the food, cook it, and serve it at a trade show. At a bare minimum, an American trade show booth in Europe should serve coffee, cookies, and carbonated and plain water in order to comply with the unwritten hospitality code of European countries.
Adams advises that the U.S. trade show exhibitor needs to plan well in advance if they want to exhibit overseas. They should consider:
• Extra time for customs clearance and shipping
• Working in the metric system (rather than inches and feet)
• Different time zones
• Language barriers
• Currency exchange rates
If you want to avoid fluctuations in price, Adams suggests locking in the exhibit costs by paying in advance.
One of the biggest problems in international exhibiting is the lack of understanding of the language, cites Adams. Be aware that some trade shows require all written materials and signage to be printed in the official language of the show. When you have translations done, make sure your words and meanings are translated correctly both into the official language as well as the official language back into English. Ensure nothing is lost in translation and that you properly convey what you mean to say.
Take into account the difference in trade show budgeting for Europe vs. the U.S. In Europe, the trade show costs of shipping, material handling, and exhibit set-up up are customarily handled by the European trade show exhibit house. It is just the opposite in the U.S., where each service provider is a different entity, whether it’s the freight company, the installation team, the dismantling team, labor, etc.