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International Exhibiting: Tips for a Successful Trade Show


Unfortunately, business owners overseas will often miss out on the many advantages delivered at a U.S. trade show. The primary reasons why many vendors won’t get the chance to see and be seen at an event are U.S. Visa issues. According to a Trade Show News Network (TSNN) article, CEIR Releases Studies Addressing U.S. Visa issues, Generational Communication, 2010 studies and reports indicated that the potentially lengthy and often complicated process surrounding obtaining a U.S. Visa for trade shows proves a major deterrent for otherwise motivated and eligible business owners to bring their exhibits stateside.

International businesses aren’t the only ones that suffer from an arduous U.S. Visa experience. The same TSNN piece also outlined various findings about how the lack of overseas companies on the showroom floor can have a direct impact on our economy as well. According to the piece, a study conducted by Oxford Economics, “The Economic Impact of International Non-Participation in the Exhibition Industry Due to U.S. Visa Issues “outlined several key ways that the Visa process hindered global commerce. Among the many findings, TSNN noted, “without visa barriers, the U.S. economy would realize increases in business sales tallying $2.4 billion ($2.6 billion, including sales to foreign exhibitors), according to the study.”   US trade show organizers, exhibit builders and hospitality businesses may miss out on revenue opportunities if these restrictions prove too cumbersome for potential exhibitors.

Based on studies like this, the U.S. government has turned some focus on the Visa issues for trade shows in an attempt to streamline the process and include as many vendors as possible. Noted in another article from TSNN dating back to 2012, U.S. Finally Moves to Ease Visa Restrictions, and “The U.S. government is finally taking steps to simplify the U.S. visa application process.” Some major points in the new process include reducing overall waiting times from countries such as China and Brazil, as well as eliminating the need for Taiwanese business owners to apply altogether. Officials hope that these and other changes should help maximize efficiencies and boost economic trade here domestically.


What U.S. Business Owners Need To Know About Exhibiting In Other Countries

Of course, U.S. businesses also face various restrictions and requirements when deciding to extend their trade show regimen into foreign countries. Fortunately, exhibiting in Canada often proves an easy transition for these entrepreneurs. The NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) often eliminates the need for procuring a work VISA to exhibit in the country as long as they are able to otherwise comply with other travel requirements relating to temporary entry. Before traveling to the event, entrepreneurs should contact the CBSA’s Border Information Service to determine what is needed for an upcoming exhibit.

Overseas trade shows will often require obtaining a Visa for entry. Once again, due diligence can make all the difference in the overall exhibit experience. Every country has its own set of rules and regulations, as well as list of countries that are exempt from the process. As soon as you have determined the hosting country of a specific event, it’s critical to contact the Border Information Services department to begin the application process as needed. Also, usually each trade show organizer will offer information to international exhibitors to help provide guidance on what travel requirements may be as well as required forms.


Planning For Trade Show Success: Key Considerations When Exhibiting Abroad

Obtaining the proper paperwork is merely the first step in successfully dominating an international trade show exhibit. Many business people assume they can conduct “business as usual” with their marketing efforts. Not exactly. Knowing how to effectively connect with global clients can enrich your entire international marketing experience. When creating your marketing plan, consider:

  • Researching different marketing tactics used in the hosting country
  • Partnering with a vendor local to the event for invaluable insight and information
  • Re-configuring your booth for better visual impact considering local taste differences
  • Cultural differences to tweak your booth environment and messaging for best results
  • Having a booth “receptionist” or interpreter to help with language differences
  • Creating some marketing materials in the native language (printing if necessary).
  • Understanding what is considered “professional”  business attire

Keeping these factors in mind can help you maximize results at any international event you attend. Still have questions? Contact our team today to discuss your specific international exhibiting needs.

About the Author

Craig is the President of Skyline Displays of Houston. Since acquiring Skyline Displays of Houston in June, 2000, Craig has led the Company to become one of the leading full-service exhibit houses in Houston. The world-class 60,000 square foot facility was recently recognized as the top Skyline facility in the world, and Skyline Houston is now one of the top three Skyline Dealers globally. For more information on trade show displays, trade show booths, and trade show exhibits in Houston, please visit

One response to “International Exhibiting: Tips for a Successful Trade Show

  1. Thank you for this focus on the visa issue which is obviously a big one when you want to attend a US trade show from abroad. The part of the article regarding what the US gov is planing to doabout visas is very interesting. It would be really nice to have a follow-up about this particular point especially since Donad Trump has been elected.

    It would be quite interesting to also have a second article about the entry of exhibited items.

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