International events give attendees extra-special experiences. But with great opportunities come equally great challenges. You'll expect to spend more time dealing with travel, logistics, culture, communications, exchange rates - and bigger budgets. A less obvious item you'll encounter is the matter of permits and fees for the production crew and talent traveling with you.
Permits and Fees Work permits and/or visas are the most common documentation/expense you'll face in many international locations (e.g., Bermuda, Brazil, Bahamas). Fees run from $50 to $225 per person. Some countries (e.g., Dubai) require both permits and visas. Union or worker displacement fees (for entertainers, photographers, technicians, etc.) are often required even though the expertise of the locals may be different from that of your personnel. Research these very carefully: Sometimes you must follow the letter of the law while other times creative paperwork will suffice and save you thousands of dollars. Be advised that some countries will require your talent and crew's actual passports to process the paperwork, which can cause great inconvenience and apprehension. And some countries (e.g., Mexico) require both union fees and permits.
The Process Hotels often handle these matters, but depending on relationships and experience, you might use youror production company. There are independent companies that provide such services, but you'll likely find them more expensive and less motivated than your primary suppliers, who have much more vested in your program's success.
Moving Targets Countries sometimes change policies; regulations that applied to an event a few years ago may no longer be relevant. And many countries, of course, require no permits or fees. The important point is to take these matters seriously: Never skirt the issues or try to avoid paying fees - you'll put your program at risk
Want to be sure your equipment makes it all the way to the ballroom? Budget for the unexpected: Some countries understand money better than laws. There is an unwritten, unspoken procedure for getting things done expeditiously in these countries. We call it a slush fund; you can call it a contingency.
Consult your producer well in advance on the destination's "standard practices" related to shipping and customs. And make sure a slush fund finds its way into your budget, if necessary.
Another warning: Some hotels insist that you use their freight company and inflate shipping time. You, of course, know better.
A great way to get preliminary information on permits and the like is to go online. Within seconds of inputting search keywords, you'll find numbers to call and in some cases the actual regulations/processes. Try these sites:
- U.S. State Department: www.state.gov
- Foreign Embassies in D.C.: www.embassy.org
- Foreign Consular Offices in U.S.: www.state.gov/www/travel/consular_offices/fco_index.html
- Bureau of Consular Affairs: www.travel.state.gov (travel warnings, U.S. embassies abroad, other great links)