Understanding Cultural Differences in a Global World

A global presence has become an increasingly significant reality for many PCOs while organising conferences but doing business worldwide presents far greater challenges then just working locally.

Words Patrizia Semprebene Buongiorno

There are many complex problems to be solved and choices to be made and of those, many are not straightforward. Numerous strategic aspects must be considered before a commitment can be made: starting with understanding the difference between “global” and “international.” These words seem interchangeable but there are significant differences. “Global” means worldwide or universal, applying to the whole world while the word “international” applies to two or more countries.

So if we take for granted these definitions we can say that an International conference means a conference with delegates coming from at least 5 countries while a global conference is a conference with participants coming from all over the world.

How do these definitions impact the conferences we organise? Does our approach need to change? Will our distinctive resources and capabilities already developed at home translate to a global market? Expansion can be widely profitable, as long as marketing, promotion and the different strategies for boosting attendance are considered with the aim of making it really “global”.

While geography no longer stands in the way of globalization there are still many barriers. Language comes to mind but, realistically, it is the least of our worries. Due diligence must be done as innumerable issues of administrative and compliance issues impact setting up a global conference. So start by asking a few basic questions.

Do we understand all the applicable laws and regulations of the targeted location? If we don’t know what we are up against we can’t develop a strategy that realistically weighs risks and rewards. Every country has a different set of rules for doing business so we cannot assume that what we did in Country A will work in Country B. What travel compliances are required? Attendees from which countries need visas? Are there other travel restrictions? We can’t dazzle participants if we are unable to get them to the conference! And remember, it’s not only about moving people. Shipping material overseas is another challenge. Give our attendees, as well as sponsors and exhibitors, information that includes warnings about the obstacles they may face throughout the event.

What are the current events and developments taking place in our targeted part of the world? Attracting attendees to our event today may be very different from what was done a year ago for the very same conference. Know what is happening and do not over simplify the challenges for attendees. We need to keep up with current affairs if we want to be global.

Read the rest of this article in Boardroom#2 – May 2017. Out now.

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