As global meetings continue to grow, meeting planners are required to focus more on issues such as language barriers, culture shock and maintaining compliance abroad.
With attendees traveling from all over and meetings being hosted in foreign countries, here are three ways that meeting planners can begin to address the culture gap.
Even though English is the standard business language, planners can’t take that for granted, especially when communicating with attendees from across the globe. In addition to having a translator on site, another key way to address the language barrier is by distributing information such as agendas, handouts and presentations in a variety of languages well in advance, so attendees can ask questions ahead of time. Lastly, make sure to take notes from the meeting that can be translated afterwards.
Depending on the location of your meeting, the customs of the destination could create quite a culture shock for attendees traveling from afar. Everything from dining preferences to the timing of events can seem extremely different. To help ease this shock, make sure to catch up on relevant customs such as how to dress or commonly used sayings, and share what you learn with your attendees. Provide a varied menu during meals, and schedule events according to local tradition. For instance, an early-morning meeting in Greece will attract very few local attendees. Lastly, embrace the cultural differences by offering local tours or networking events that inform attendees about the local culture.
China surpassed the U.S. as the largest business travel country globally in 2016, according to American Express Travel’s 2018 Global Meetings & Events Forecast. As more planners plan events in China, it’s important to understand compliance in the country to avoid fraud or other risks in corruption. The forecast addresses three steps in doing so: understand the risks, manage the basics such as hiring the right providers and then enhance your company’s protocol after a meeting is done.