A 2-part overview of some of the top technology challenges meeting professionals face when planning a series of events in different countries.
The article will discuss and offer tips on how to deal with varying costs, language barriers, technical standards, and cultural differences concerning the work ethic and labor.
Professional meeting planners with the proven ability to execute international events really distinguish themselves from the pack. Of course, becoming a global meeting planner entails more than just adding a word to your CV. Although there is no doubt whatsoever that advances in the technology that is available have made planning international meetings easier, the fact is that the global meeting planner must be able to overcome a myriad of unique AV and technology-related challenges and obstacles that come with organizing meetings abroad.
Here are some of the most important issues when it comes to global meetings and events, especially as they pertain to AV and technology.
Since AV personnel are on-site and will be sharing space and (in many cases) working closely with speakers and attendees, meeting planners need to be assured that the AV personnel will be familiar with all local cultural idiosyncrasies; not to mention, the cultural characteristics of the various countries where the event attendees come from. It’s also important that the AV provider recognizes and acknowledges cultural differences and staffs accordingly. While technical proficiency and the right attitude count are paramount, personality counts for a lot when it comes to mitigating cultural differences. For example, an AV tech with a quiet, humble, and undemonstrative personality may be negatively perceived as cold and aloof at a meeting where the attendees come from a culture where interpersonal communications are characterized by outspokenness and affectionate familiarity.
Meeting and event AV equipment and technology may be fairly uniform and consistent, especially for a series of meetings that happen to take place across multiple locations worldwide,worldwide; however, every country in the world has different standards for the distribution of electricity for portable equipment and lighting. Plug/outlet types, voltage, frequency, etc. differ wildly, and unfortunately, there is no one reference point of document that can be trusted to contain 100% accurate and up-to-date information as to what works for which country. Another related issue is data usage and network connections for smartphones and devices. When selecting an AV provider for a non-domestic event, verify that they’ve handled previous events in the same country and that they’re up on the latest developments on the technical standards front.
When it comes to the setup, operation and breakdown of AV equipment and technology at an international meeting, local personnel will almost always be involved to some degree. To put it bluntly, different cultures treat work in different ways. In one country where an increasing number of meetings are held, support personnel are known for working very, very hard, which may be appreciated by the meeting planner; at the same time, they tend to not pay a great deal of attention to government regulations for safety and health standards, and if that isn’t recognized and managed by the AV provider, serious issues may arise that can have a serious impact on the planner’s business. By way of another example, punctuality may be emphasized in one country, with every worker showing up on time every day…and elsewhere it’s perfectly acceptable to show up an hour after the agreed-upon start time.
To write about the uniqueness of work styles without resorting to stereotypes or underestimating the variations within host location populations is difficult, however, after decades of experience supporting meetings and events across hundreds of locations across the globe, it is possible to collect enough information and data to be able to help clients make good decisions during the planning process.
As the meetings industry comes of age and the forces of globalized markets, inter-country relationships and business connectivity continue to move forward relentlessly, perhaps at some point in the near future the job description “global meeting planner” will be a redundant term.
Andrew Taffin, CEO of Tallen Technology Rentals, co-founded the Iselin, NJ-based company in 2002. A regular speaker at industry conferences and events, Andrew is also one of the founding members and former president, of the International Technology Rental Association (ITRA). For more information please email Services@tallen-inc.com and visit www.tallen-inc.com.