Leading Meeting Professionals

Professional Convention Management Association

September 18 2015

10 Essential Lessons You Should Know Before Hosting APAC Attendees

By Michelle Crowley
APAC is synonymous with opportunity in the meetings industry. As the convention landscape across the APAC region continues to mature, more US-based organizations are outlining strategies to connect with an emerging cast of prospective members and attendees. However, doing business in Australia, China, Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, Oman, Singapore and Thailand and other countries and cities throughout the region can feel very different than doing business in North America or Europe.

To address some of those differences and forecast the future for APAC meetings, PCMA united convention leaders from around the world to Melbourne, Australia for the 2015 Global Professionals Conference – Asia Pacific. If you’re looking to lay the foundation for your organization’s APAC success, here’s a look at 10 top tips from your peers who have already ramped up their efforts in the region.


1) Email isn’t for everyone.

While Americans are addicted to their traditional inboxes, Chinese business professionals are shifting their eyeballs from email to WeChat. Unlike clunky email messages, WeChat is an app built to include loads of other apps in one place. Statistics show that it’s already a big hit in China. Tencent, the owner of WeChat, recently reported that its user base grew by nearly 10 percent in just a few months.

2) Gifts aren’t always well-received.

Buying the right gift in business isn’t always easy, and throughout the APAC region, it can be even more challenging. If you’re considering bringing a gift to a vendor or partner, be sure to do your research first to avoid offending anyone. Clocks are a symbol of death in some parts of the world, while unwrapping a gift in front of the giver is offensive in other parts. For an introduction to the topic, check out this simple guide from Business Strategies International.

3) Hand over the travel logistics to the pros.

Booking online travel for your staff members in the US is simple. However, when organizing a trip for a full team in a new destination, it’s best to let someone with on-the-ground experience handle the logistics to ensure that hotels, airfare, car services and other details are all managed properly.

4) Spend like a local.

Rather than using your credit cards from America, it’s better to opt for a credit card in the local currency or actual local cash. You’ll avoid the foreign transaction fees, which can add up quickly over a full week of on-site spending.

5) Keep an eye on currency exchange rates.

The meeting may not start for another six months, but it may make strong financial sense to pay your deposits early if the conversion is in your favor. Be sure to use this tracking tool to determine if paying early could save your organization money.

6) Give your organization a layer of cyber protection.

Cyber crimes can cause serious pain. Just ask Home Depot, Target or any other range of major businesses that have been impacted by data breaches over the past year. If you’re taking your meeting to another country, be sure to protect your organization with cyber insurance. Not convinced that cyber security can be a big issue at convention? Check out this article.

7) Be sure about embargoes before your ship.

Before you pack up programs, signage and the hundreds of other pounds of materials for your meeting, be sure to double check that your goods won’t face any kind of restrictions on the route from here to there.

8) Get to know your audience and their education needs.

What are the big trends impacting the local audience? How do their CEU requirements differ from your US attendees? Will these attendees have different expectations in terms of the pace of the programming? Do start times and lunch breaks vary? As your education department develops sessions and chooses speakers, do your research to get a finger on the pulse of the professional needs in the region.

9) Do a deep-dive into the local culture before you arrive.

In addition to thinking about the professional trends and issues impacting your audience, learn about their personal cultural norms. How do people say hello? Is alcohol commonly served in the country? Should business cards be presented with one or two hands? At a business meal, when should you actually begin the conversation on business? Find a well-reviewed travel guide to help you understand the ins and outs of the local scene.

10) Coffee service is not created equal everywhere.

In the US, attendees are accustomed to big carafes of coffee. However, in many countries throughout the APAC region, coffee and tea is a more individualized service. There may even be additional costs to provide milk and cream.  Be sure to discuss this ahead of time to prepare your budget properly.

Interested in other takeaways from this program?  Click here to view the notes.

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