Tech Talk: Working Internationally
It's getting easier than ever to work on international events.by Warren K. Kong | Published in July 2008 international | tech talk | Departments
Q: I’ve started to work internationally. What are some of the things I need to look out for when working abroad?
A: Globalization isn’t just a buzzword these days — more and more companies are going international and the world is getting smaller. It’s easier than ever to conduct business internationally, and events are happening all over the world.
For a recent event I worked on in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, the client was from the United Kingdom, producer from Atlanta, content provider from Canada, video vendor from Singapore, audience response company from China and audio/lighting vendor from Kuala Lumpur.
More and more events are bringing together pools of international talents. When working abroad, here’s what to keep in mind.
First, attempt to get a technical director or A/V project manager from the United States who knows the culture, area and/or, most importantly, language. Language is obviously the biggest barrier, and having good communication with locals will probably be the most important determinant of your success. When dealing with local vendors, remember that most do not take checks or credit cards, so be prepared to wire-transfer the full amount of each vendor’s contract — and remember to be prepared or prepare your clients for this.
Talk with your technical director or local representatives to verify the credibility of each of the vendors. Remember that they’re just as scared of you as you are of them.
If you decide to bring your own A/V staff, be sure to check on the local laws regulating work permits so your staff can operate in the country. Mostly likely you will discover that you need one for yourself as well. Work permits are an important, and often overlooked, step. Needless to say, you don’t want your staff members detained in a foreign country.
Events in other countries are much different than here in the U.S. and Canada. So you will need to be very meticulous with every detail. Even the most basic considerations that are commonplace for us may be very different in other counties. For example, you may want to use certain plants and foliage that you commonly incorporate in U.S.-based events; don’t take for granted that you’ll be able to find them abroad.
Finally, research the background and culture of the country you are doing business in — or risk misunderstanding your new colleagues at best, and offending them at worst.
I was once on a show where the client had ordered meals for the crew. A good idea — food transcends all language barriers. Just as he would have in the States, he ordered panini sandwiches, hamburgers and fries.
When it arrived, the local crew was very thankful and took the food out of respect. But after not too long, we realized they wouldn’t eat it. As it turned out, we were in a part of Asia where this type of cuisine was completely foreign. Fortunately, that case had a quick fix: the producer immediately grabbed a room service menu and sat down with the crew to place an order. Now, it may seem trivial to be talking about the food, but remember, in Asia, it’s all about the food. And the simple act of caring about your team members, wherever you are, goes a long way.
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