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How We Work Abroad

How We Work Abroad

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By Pat Reed – Director of Show Support, Alford Media

Conferences and many other types of events aren’t limited to the U.S. There are many reasons businesses large and small want to travel abroad for important corporate gatherings, from expansion into a new market to the desire to reward employees and other guests with a unique international experience.

Alford has plenty of experience working abroad, helping our partners host the most successful events possible outside of the U.S. How do we ensure every conference, trade show and other special event we work on in other countries is just as successful as our work domestically? It’s an extension of our ability to provide top-notch service and results.

Recognizing, adapting and realizing positive results

Working in foreign countries is no easy feat. While it’s possible to import every piece of gear and tool needed, from the major elements of lighting and audio systems to the innumerable tools and resources used by our crew members, realistic cost limitations mean we often have fewer staff and less equipment on site when working internationally.

The difference in environment plays a major role too, with local infrastructure not always aligning with what’s common or expected in the U.S. For example, even the nicest hotels and event spaces in many foreign countries won’t have the same level of technical sophistication or available resources when compared to their counterparts based in America.

We take on this major challenge of producing successful events internationally through a variety of strategies and tactics. One of the most important is planning ahead and recognizing potential problems that could make work harder for our crews or require additional time and resources to resolve. Simply put, we work ahead of time to ensure we can address issues like:

• Lack of easily available resources.
• Technological constraints that can impact the presentation and appearance of a live event.
• Limited availability of skilled or experienced local workers.
• Sourcing the equipment, material and parts that don’t make the international trip.
• Language barriers.
• Cultural differences that can impact work schedules and deadlines.

Passport

A successful international show means having experienced and skilled crew from Alford on hand, among many other considerations.

What makes Alford’s international efforts stand out

Of course, these aren’t the only concerns that can crop up around the planning and execution of an international conference, but they are some of the more common ones. Understanding the potential for general and location-specific issues to arise is critical to maintaining Alford’s high standards and producing successful events, no matter where a conference takes place.

An issue as small as the lack of gaffer’s or duct tape in a given city – or larger area – can cause significant problems when it comes time to physically put the show together. That’s why planning ahead is so important. Our staff’s prior experience on international shows is especially valuable, as it provides background on general and more unique problems that can arise when working abroad.

One of those issues is the use of local workers instead of an entire Alford crew due to cost limitations. Sourcing local talent can be a challenge, as the long hours and expertise developed by Alford’s staff regularly working on show after show is not always present when utilizing local labor for an event. That’s something the Alford team members who make the trip recognize ahead of time and plan around to ensure timelines are followed and work is completed when necessary – even when it means longer hours and significantly more planning on the part of our staff.

On a more practical level but just as important are the skill sets of our staff who make each trip. With flexibility key to planning and executing a successful conference, many employees having talents in more than one area is a major asset. With many staff members having such broad areas of expertise, we can maximize the available talent on international shows even when crew size is limited.

Another important asset on our side is the genuine curiosity and desire to perform at a high level that’s common throughout our organization. No two events, whether they happen domestically or abroad, are alike. That means our staff members are used to the need to plan individually for each show and work around unique and potentially difficult obstacles. A desire to make each show as successful as possible motivates our crew, and it also means they’re not only willing but eager to adapt and explore new paths toward success for each and every international conference.

Ultimately, there’s no single concept, plan or action that makes a conference or other event hosted outside the U.S. successful. Each needs to be taken on as a unique entity, one that requires plenty of time invested by our staff before they arrive, while setting up and during the conference itself. This open-ended and flexible strategy helps Alford make each event outside the U.S. just as successful as those within its borders.

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