Eli Gorin, CMP

Eli Gorin, CMP, of gMeetings Inc., a boutique meetings-management firm based in Aventura, Fla., offers his top 10 tips for meeting outside your home country.

  1. Understand local customs.

    Pick up a book on cultural etiquette so you will know the norms. In some countries it's acceptable to discuss business over a meal, while in others it's taboo. In some places business cards are treated casually; in others they are handled with great respect.

  2. Follow the money.

    Understand the intricacies of foreign exchange rates. Watch out for credit-card fees on foreign transactions. Your best bet: Negotiate based on your local currency. That way you won't have to worry so much about budgets going completely awry.

  3. Know your purpose.

    Make sure the decision to leave your home country actually falls in line with the goals and objectives of the meeting.

  4. Mind their business.

    Business practices vary from country to country. For example, the business day is not 9 to 5 all around the world. And while you may see contract provisions as carved in stone, others may consider them more like guidelines.

  5. Pick up the phone.

    Communicating strictly through e-mail is often not the most effective way to get your point across.

  6. Get the view from the ground.

    Do a site inspection, even if it means flying 10 hours for a 1.5-day site and costs you $1,000. It will make a world of difference. (And yes, I have done that.)

  7. Be inclusive.

    Make sure the destination is one where all attendees can take part. Remember to consider passport and visa issues, flight access, and cost of travel.

  8. Tell time.

    Time zones can really make a difference when you are on a tight schedule and you need a response ASAP. You may be sending e-mail at the start of your business day, but it may be the end of the recipient's workday.(Oh, and consider meeting in Latin America, where you'll have minimal time zone changes.)

  9. Read, research, report.

    Learn a lot about your destination. Be prepared to answer any questions your clients or guests may have regarding safety, dining, transport, money, language, or other issues.

  10. Know thyself.

    As the saying goes (and with due credit to international meeting expert Carol Krugman, CMP, CMM): If you want things done the way they are at home, stay home!