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April 16, 2008

FOREIGN EXCHANGE:Taking your event overseas - The supplier angle

Arranging an event overseas can be a tricky business – and that's not just from the point of view of getting everything to the chosen location. There are a host of other complications involved, from varying regulations to finding the right partner on the ground. We talk to Mayridge managing director David Freeman about the key factors to take into account.

EVENTS:review: I suppose the usual assumption would be that it is far easier to design a stand for a show in the UK than one held abroad. Is this the case?

Freeman: "Yes and no. There is certainly a lot of extra work involved, but an experienced company should be well aware of the different demands that can be encountered in different parts of the world."

Mayridge MD, David Freeman

Does every country have a different set of regulations that you must be aware of?

"Absolutely. In Sydney, for example, they are extremely tight on health and safety. Everyone has to wear a high-visibility vest during build up. If your crew turns up without their vests then it won't be let in, it’s as simple as that.

"In the States, the regulations differ from state to state, which means that what may be allowed in New York isn’t necessarily permissible in Los Angeles.

"Then there are import restrictions. Some countries have limits on what sort of material can be brought in. A number only allow in timber that has been specially treated, for example. Again, this needs to be established from the outset because there’s obviously no point in arriving at customs with a stand that will be sent back to the UK. In instances like these there’s no point hoping for the best, you have to find out what’s expected of you well before you arrive."

Do you build everything in the UK and send it overseas and do you send your own people from here or do you have people on the ground around the globe?

"It depends upon where the event is taking place. For much of Europe we would probably build in Central Europe and drive it to the venue. This isn’t so practical for the rest of the world which means we usually have partners at the given destination who will do the job to our standards, normally under supervision of someone from HQ here in the UK. Again, you need to know local laws. In the US it is only local labour that can do the work, whereas other countries, especially in Europe, allow a certain amount of contribution from outsiders."

What is the ideal lead time for an overseas job. Presumably if I told you that I wanted a stand for Singapore in a fortnight there wouldn’t be much you could do?

"Generally speaking, no, but I never say never. Because we have partners around the world it’s possible to turn things around reasonably quickly as plans and designs can be emailed over to them and the stand built quite soon after. However, as we’ve discussed, there is inevitably a number of issues that need to be taken into account, such as the aforementioned local regulations. My ideal lead time three months."

When they make their initial approach, what does the ideal partner come armed with?

"First, time. The longer we have to do the job, the more thorough can be the consultation with the client, the accepting and rejecting of initial designs and, of course, the research into the logistics of getting the equipment over to the show. Second, the best clients are those who have a minutely detailed and clear picture of what they’re wanting to achieve by being at the show."

You work for an increasing number of clients who are keen to exhibit abroad. What’s wrong with the UK. Why are they looking elsewhere when we run some excellent shows here?

"I think the UK exhibition industry is very good and there are many shows here that are examples to the rest of the world of how exhibitions should be run. However, it’s a global economy now. Thanks to modern technology and easier communications, companies everywhere are now able to sell their products to anyone anywhere in the world, not just a few customers in the square 100 miles around their office. I would say that companies that decide to exhibit abroad are not forsaking the UK, they’re simply wanting to exploit the opportunity of getting their message across to as many different new clients as possible."

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