Do Your Event a Favor. Move it Somewhere Else.

Sometimes where you meet is the most important meetings and events decision you’ll make.

One of my favorite questions to ask new clients is: How is it you chose your destination city as the permanent site for your conference?

The most typical answer: Well, it’s because we always meet in that city.

Traditions are fine. I love traditions. But I have to ask, is this really a tradition? Or, rather, is the planner merely repeating what once worked, year after year?

In other words: Is the planner stuck?

If you’ve gotten stuck, let me help you get unstuck.  My solution is simple: scout for exciting new destinations and facilities.

There are three main reasons to change location.

1. Better fit. Some places are simply better accommodations than others for any given event. The facility’s layout might be more suitable, its infrastructure more advantageous, its staff more amendable. The city, the region, the Country itself might be a better fit.

2. Enhance engagement.  Familiarity breeds… boredom. Year after year at the same location, you stop experiencing the activity and merely go through the motions. Wake up your attendees so next year’s event is not a duplicate of this year’s. Try a new country, a new city, a new venue. Watch people’s faces as they walk in the door. See them look up and around, and shine with anticipation.

3. Produce cost savings. When planners chose the same venue year after year, they stop getting the same value they did when the venue had to win their business.  Scout other destinations and other venues, and give them a chance to win your business. You’ll be surprised at the savings when they have to compete for your business.

Multiculturalism: Often Discussed, Rarely Understood

Multiculturalism might be the most misunderstood concept in the business world today.

My work involves bringing people together from around the world to form purposeful, temporary communities. To accomplish this, I focus on helping people communicate effectively. Since cultural heritage shapes how we express ourselves, I observe how people communicate within various cultures. The insights help me reduce misunderstanding and expand engagement.

Here’s an example of how communication styles differ across the globe. I’ve seen experienced European negotiators walk away from a meeting with Japanese counterparts believing they were on the cusp of closing their deal; all they needed was a contract to sign. The Japanese team had never said yes; they merely had not said no.  Stating a blunt “no” is seen as impolite in Japan; many Japanese avoid the word so as not to offend. The westerners mistook the absence of no for indication of yes.

Four steps to better multicultural communications:

  • Speak precisely and avoid slang. Say “Be here at 8,” not “Get here early.” Say “I don’t like that,” not “That rubs me the wrong way.”
  • Avoid visual gestures. Thumbs-up means “A-Okay” in the U.S.; it’s a threat in the Middle East and an insult in South America.
  • Watch your body language. Showing your shoe sole is a mortal insult in many countries; standing too close (or too far away) during conversation also may be misunderstood.
  • Offer evidence that’s culturally approved. Offering numerical evidence – studies, reports and rankings – is convincing proof in some cultures; others value testimony from elders, precedent, or clergy’s approval.