Top Tips for Organising your MENA Conference from Abroad
Organising any conference involves thoughtful planning and hard work. If you are doing it from abroad, it requires even more effort. The Middle East meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions industry is becoming extremely dynamic and more welcoming by the day. Many major events are being organised in the region, including the Special Olympics World Games 2019 in Abu Dhabi, and Dubai Expo 2020. Saudi Arabia is increasing investment to attract a share of the booming market. Bringing your event to a new space can open up a new vista for your conference attendees and elevate the profile of your event.
In the region, the UAE currently dominates the sector attracting around half of all the events because of its advanced capabilities. Dubai and Abu Dhabi are world-class destinations offering first-class infrastructure and services. For example, the Federal Tax authority has removed VAT on services provided at exhibitions and conferences. Visa regulations are also simplified for some nationalities.
It can be tricky organising a conference from abroad but if you follow basic guidelines, you will find it easy to manage everything smoothly.
- Planning is Everything
We can’t stress enough the importance of planning and preparation.
- Develop a checklist and a project plan and revisit it frequently.
- Set a preliminary budget and update it as more details are worked out – estimated participants, costs, etc.
- Do your Homework
Proper research will help you make the right decisions and anticipate difficulties well in advance.
- Identify local resources who can provide conference event solutions and have the local know-how you need. This includes vendors and suppliers.
- Create a short-list of candidates based on word of mouth recommendations, web searches and industry sites.
- Interview candidates giving preference to those who can provide comprehensive service to an international standard.
- Ask for help and act on the advice of trusted partners and industry associations such as IFES or ESSA.
- Make sure that you don’t take anything for granted. Spend the needed time to gather up to date information on:
- Facilities and services – availability and pricing
- Required documentation: visas, permits, etc.
- Local holidays or seasonal calendar (e.g. Ramadan, Eid)
- Etiquette and local business customs
- Nailing things Down
- Hire local partners and rely on their assistance to facilitate in-country implementation, and follow up. Ask the contractor for the project’s milestones to have a clear vision of the deadlines.
- Book or create venue/s.
- Organise travel details and logistics.
- Develop an information pack for conference delegates – including instructions for travel documents, bookings, and other useful information about country sights, shopping, and business networking opportunities (e.g. prepare a template for letter accompanying visa application if required).
- Boots on the Ground
- Visits: Prepare to visit the location to meet local agents and to inspect locations/venues before the event. At a minimum, schedule one information gathering visit during the planning phase and one inspection visit prior to the event.
- Manage local partners ensuring frequent communication and follow up.
- Revise and review plans and include possible contingencies and risks.
- Get there early enough to inspect, and test all the features and elements of the conference before opening.
Plan, Partner, Perform: A Simple Formula for Conference Success
The main challenge when you are organising something from a distance is having an eye on the overall picture, while taking care of all the little details. Following our simple formula can ensure a successful event. Plan for everything, including contingencies. Identify and hire local agents, event contractors, to be your hands and eyes on the ground. Ensure clear and frequent communication with all the participants.
As a full-service event and exhibition contracting company with experience executing projects throughout the region, we can help you execute your event in the Middle East. For over 25 years, we have been supporting international and local event management agencies, conference organisers, exhibition organisers and venues with transforming their design concepts and vision into reality. Our focus is on delivering the right solutions for your project and budget, from zero waste reusable display walls to customised in-house build. We can help you remove the stress of creating a hospitable and efficient conference environment, including setting up a temporary venue, undertaking fit out and handling construction and logistics. We also have expert knowledge and experience to guide you through all the steps from concept to execution to ensure success.