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August 14, 2012

Kripen Dhrona:Accommodating contrasting Asian cultures

The marketing and events manager at the Enterprise Hotel, London, which hosts meetings and events, and attracts a multi-cultural mix of clients and guests, says it's vital for meetings planners to be aware of the cultural differences across Asia.

If your target audience is Asian then there are some key aspects you must take into consideration. First, and it may sound obvious, but you need to understand the geography. There are lots of different countries in Asia with lots of dominant religions; Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism, and Christianity to name the largest. These religious differences are key to your approach.

Many of these religions include various festivals and celebrations, holidays, traditions and food customs that you should familiarise yourself with. Simply investing in an international calendar and obtaining some localised information will give you a comprehensive insight into the relevant cultures. If you target a particular geographic region on a regular basis, then a personal visit to the area would be an excellent way of obtaining first-hand knowledge and obtaining a real insight into the expectations and needs of the people you are aiming to attract to your event. 

This also applies when setting dates for events. It would be a huge mistake to rule out half your target audience by clashing with an important religious or national date. Remember also that a lot of Asian holidays and festivals do move dates each year, similar to Easter in the UK.

These cultural differences should be taken into consideration when scheduling the itinerary for an event. Delegates from the Middle East and India will not thank you for arranging for them to attend an early breakfast meeting. Arrange important meetings for later in the day – 2pm or after is a much safer bet.

When it comes to evening entertainment, then generally I would not expect married male delegates to stay up late and party and the same goes for women delegates. Single males will, however, appreciate socialising after the business of the day is completed. 

Marketing to an Asian audience is no different to any other. You just need to make sure you do your research, pay attention to detail and don’t assume. Even the most basic customs, such as traditional times of meals or arranging transport and co-ordinating the movements of groups of people, need to be carefully planned. 

Take my word for it, if you take time to do your research and plan accordingly your efforts will be appreciated tenfold.

Kripen Dhrona is the marketing and events manager at the Enterprise Hotel, London.

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