Cross Border Planning

Planning an international event for a group does not have to be overwhelming. Just be sure to give yourself enough time and use tools to stay organized. Here are some tips from some of your fellow event planning professionals on planning your next cross border or international event.

by Maureen Leader

Find tools that you can trust to help you stay on track

Some planners recommend apps like Expedia, CheapOair, Yelp, Trivago, Tripit, or hotel and airline apps. Others just use excel. Still, others use a simple legal pad and pen. One planner, who has planned events in London, the U.S.A., Canada, Spain, Germany, Netherlands, the Middle-East, Australia, and Singapore stated, "My Apple Wallet is probably my favorite travel app, it stores all of my boarding passes and helps reduce the need to print them.”

But whatever tool you use, use it to help you stay on top of the details. One planner said she created a Travel Operations Briefing guide, usually 4 - 6 pages long, with all the details of the event. Also, it may sound elementary, but keep your attendees organized, too. Always spell out the day and the date to your guests on every piece of information. Also make note of the time change on everything. One planner stated, “The one piece of information that I always make sure attendees have is the name, location and contact details of the hotel they will be staying.”

Start your planning early

This can be especially helpful in getting discounts for your group and saving you last minute headaches. Also, start early in securing overnight accommodations. Contact vendors to get competitive quotes, and don’t be afraid to negotiate. Venues and hotels do compete – especially for larger groups. “If you don’t ask, it won’t be offered,” advised one planner.

Passports/Visas

One planner has everyone responsible for their own. One planner recommends a visa service called Travel Docs. Travel.state.gov is another resource, as well as the US Post Office. Travel agents can also assist.

And once overseas…

The planners we spoke with agree that a contact at the Embassy is worth its weight in gold. When you are on-site at an international meeting or event, they can assist with any number of questions or emergencies. They can also help secure passes to a venue such as the Vatican or a garden party at Buckingham Palace. One planner suggests even stopping by the Embassy to connect face-to-face with the contact once you arrive.

Insurance

The planners we spoke with agree that health and trip insurance in whatever country you are traveling to is an absolute must. One planner stated, “The one time you don’t purchase it will be the time you need it. In the big scheme of things, the cost of it is relatively small compared to how much it will save in the long run.”

Budgeting

One planner said, “Never assume. Always read the fine print of every contract. Make sure you know what you’re getting and how much it all costs.” And be just as transparent with your guests. Be careful and detail oriented. Be upfront and clear with all your attendees as to what is covered and what is not. Be especially clear when planning off-site or post-event activities. Who is paying for what?

- And finally -

One of our planners said, “Cover yourself first, last, and always. You will be to blame if unexpected bills have to be paid. Get every single thing in writing.”


But most importantly during your international event, planners all agree: Do your best to sit back, relax, and enjoy your wonderful job that takes you around the world!