Establish the right tone from the get go
Research your target audience and the cultural background of your international attendees. Informative and to-the-point communication might be appreciated in the West, but is frowned upon in other cultures. Depending on who you’re talking to, invitation and outreach might need to be personal or the opposite, follow a required hierarchy.
A warm welcome
Are you doing enough to make your guests feel at home? Reach to them even before their journey starts. Consider anything that will lessen the stress of traveling, especially if they’re flying for long hours – and in coach! Put yourself in their shoes and provide the information in their own language.
Review the material for your event from a multicultural point of view. Is your marketing appropriate in every detail so you don’t send the wrong message? You don’t want to end up like this poor festival and endorse a sexual organ by mistake. Hire interpretation services if necessary.
Culinary culture clashes
While international cuisine offers many delights, the choice of food and beverages can derail your planned event if you don’t pay attention to the details. Certain religions prevent people from eating certain kinds of meat and others don’t allow to drink alcohol. Just to be sure, tell catering or the chef to label food and list ingredients.
Different cultures have different concepts of punctuality, keep this in mind when scheduling. In Germany being 15 minutes late is considered rude, while in Venezuela nobody will notice if you arrive an hour after the agreed time. Plan accordingly and whatever you do, don’t get mad if people show up late – or too early!
Formal vs Casual
Flip-flops, t-shirts and pink shades might be acceptable attire for your start-up’s hackathon, but for your event with international attendees, it’s probably best to err on the side of caution. When in doubt, lean towards formality. We often associate casualness with a relaxed, easy-going state, but at your event, it can cause discomfort. Your guests may assume that they didn’t understand the dress code and feel awkward. It might sound counter intuitive, but in this case, formalities and protocol may help everyone relax.
Don’t go over the top!
Customizing your event for international attendants can create an immersive experience they can appreciate, but go overboard and you run the risk of becoming a suck up. It’s a fine line you have to walk between catering to your international attendees and isolating them. After all, they’re travelling and part of the fun in travelling is getting to know a new place. Organize a tour of the city for your new friends. Anticipate how much they want to mingle as well and introduce them to the locals.