As the world shrinks and global trade becomes commonplace, more people are traveling across borders to attend Expos and transact business. A report from CEIR threw up an interesting statistic – 78% visitors travel over 400 miles to attend Expos. However, understanding nuances of business and interpersonal protocol can be daunting as many exhibitors are unfamiliar with foreign customs. It is, therefore, important to learn how to manage international visitors on an individual basis at the booth.
To start with, learn about local topics to discuss (sports, art, history), as well as topics to avoid (religion and politics). The manner in which international visitors are managed can make or break chances of making an impression that counts. It may sound obvious, but take the time to read up about cultural differences. What is considered polite and “politically correct” changes from country to country. It is therefore critical that a strategic plan is created and shared on how to present and market brands effectively and engage constructively with global visitors.
Sociable multi-lingual “ambassadors”, designated by special badges or pins, can be tasked with identifying international visitors on the show floor and offering assistance. The importance of having a local who understands the language and nuances of regional culture cannot be emphasized enough. It also helps to be mindful of the visitor’s individual mannerisms. Observe how long they hold eye contact and how they greet you, whether with a bow of handshake. Respond in kind and do not overdo a bow or make prolonged eye contact.
Use professional titles when introducing visitors or addressing attendees. Avoid colloquialisms, metaphors, slang and regional expressions that may be confusing to international Expo visitors. Be sensitive and follow local gestures when handling visiting cards – be sure to read the cards front and back and hold the business card with both hands before putting it away carefully.
A large majority of international visitors prefer to establish contact and build strong relationships prior to doing business. Respect this protocol and encourage Expo booth staff to get to know their guests on a personal basis prior to beginning the business cycle. Introduce key visitors to senior executives present at the booth thereby giving them a sense of just how important they are to the business. Also, offer benefits such as airport pick-up, pre-show tours of the show floor, welcome packet at the hotel and multi-lingual assistance to make important international visitors feel welcome and special.
Developing people skills for expo booth staff is essential in dealing successfully with international expo visitors. The more empathy and tact used to understand international Expo visitor’s customs, the better the chances for business success. After all, one of the key goals for participating in Expos is to ensure that every visitor to the booth – be they from the region or international – take back with them a positive experience of what the brand has to offer.
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“Engaging International Expo Visitors: Important Tips”