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  • Writer's pictureKeila Vitola Druzian

International Business Fairs: how to make the most of them?

Business happens all the time and Foreign Trade allows this to happen remotely or in person, but the international fairs are a catalyst for this reaction and allow for bringing cultures together, in addition to allowing common interests to be discussed in a particular place.

For exporters, fairs are the possibility of gaining new markets and, for importers, they are a chance to diversify.

The investment to move an employee to an international fair is considerable, so the first step is to understand if the company is really mature enough to take this initiative. This text will go into detail on the important points in the pre, during and post-fair stages. Stay tuned!

Why visit international fairs?

For companies that do not want to depend on revenue from the local market, exporting is an excellent alternative. However, selling to the foreign market is not a simple task: it requires preparation, knowledge and, above all, relationships.

An international salesperson is able to prospect clients in Brazil, but without having a direct contact, this commercial cycle can take years to happen.

On the other hand, Brazil is a country that needs imported products, either because it does not have a technological park to produce, or because it lacks competitiveness in some areas.

Therefore, companies that resell or produce items around here need suppliers of finished products or raw materials for manufacturing. This requires an international contact from a foreign supplier.

In both examples, these actors can come together on an exclusive international visit, but participation in an international fair can cause the investment of this trip to be diluted among other initiatives or other deals that may be closed.

How to find international fairs?

There are specialized portals that bring together the planned international events, such as the Apex (Brazilian Agency for the Promotion of Exports and Investments), which is the public agency that has this multi-sector function.

The associations and class entities also publicize events and fairs that will take place around the world, both for those who are going to buy and for those who want to sell.

Representative entities, such as ABIMO (Brazilian Association of the Medical Devices Industry), usually maintain centers focused on Foreign Trade, organize information on agendas for international fairs and send for those registered in their newsletter lists.

Social medias are good search tools for fairs, especially the best-known ones, which advertise worldwide based on search and user profile.

Take care in the choice of international fairs

Before spending energy and resources on an international trip, it is necessary to understand if your company's target audience will actually be at the event. In addition, you need to be sure that your company meets the legal requirements to export to a specific country and has the productive capacity to meet the demand.

When importing, the most important thing about an international fair is to take advantage of the chance to find out if a company really exists. With the number of scams happening every day on the internet, you must be careful!

Finally, it seems obvious, but it doesn't hurt to say: you must be careful with personal items, such as PASSPORTS, suitcases, cell phones, computers or any valuable object, as the fairs are quite busy and there are of scammers who infiltrate to steal, even in countries that are considered to be quite safe.

What to take on trips and fairs?

Preparing to visit international fairs is certainly what takes the most time for those who have this purpose. It is necessary to prepare basic items, promotional items and have some personal care, such as:

Basic items - six months to a year before

Passport, business visa, proof of vaccines and other items required for boarding to the country where the fair will take place and its connections (for example when a flight to Japan has a connection in the USA, you will need the American visa in addition to the Japanese one).

Air ticket and accommodation - six to three months before

Some agencies offer a package that includes the ticket for the events, hotel, lunch and transfers. These are usually the most expensive and finish quickly, but it is also the most convenient way to participate in the event, since the fair's partner agencies have the hotels closest to the event at special prices.

Hotels near the event fill up well before the fair's start date, so don't leave it until the last minute.

Promotional material - two months before

Depending your area, you will have to take your company's promotional material with you, which can be in the form of gifts, cards, brochures or others. Think of a way to carry this during the event without your comfort being compromised.

Excessive promotional material is usually discarded at the hotel when the visitor prepares their bags to return to their country of origin. So, no exaggeration, because all the work you had to bring the gifts into the country could be in vain.

Sending the catalog by e-mail or sharing it via a QR code are more modern solutions that are being requested by visitors.

Samples - two months before

In some sectors, it is common to distribute samples at events. If you need to take a lot of them to distribute, check with destination local customs office for the entry legislation for these products. Remember, if it is an organic product the bureaucracy will be greater, so take only what is necessary.

Electronic products also attract the attention of inspectors and can provide you a long stay in the airport.

How to take advantage of international fairs?

The important thing is to focus: avoid arriving at the fair without a clear objective. It may be that those who visit an international fair set aside some free time to visit new products or simply walk through some stands. However, that cannot be your main objective.

As most fairs announce in advance who the participants will be, it is necessary to map the event, including geographically, so the focus is not lost on large exhibitions and fails to fulfill any commitment.

What to do after the international fair?

The next step after the fair is very important, perhaps as much as preparing for the fair or the event itself, because a deal will not always be closed during the meeting.

Therefore, it is important to align expectations with your partner to be, to understand what the professional who goes to the fair needs to deliver.

Upon returning to Brazil, the Foreign Trade professional will have a lot of work behind schedule, but he cannot fail to make the most of the post-fair (easy to say and hard to do, I know… ☹. I have suffered a lot of it on my skin and for that very reason I know it is important!).

You can start by sending a thank-you email, putting on the agenda what has been discussed or negotiated so that it is not lost over the days, as well as continuous monitoring until business happens, increases, or continues for a long time.

So, do you have any tips that we haven't mentioned in the text? Share with us in the comments.


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