Even when in a foreign tongue, communication is key to avoiding mishaps or misunderstandings
By Tyler Davidson
With the unstoppable force of globalization, chances are good that the meeting planner of the future will need to plan meetings in international destinations, as well as hold domestic-destination meetings that draw a large contingent of foreign delegates.
“The first thing is, you ain’t in Kansas anymore,” says Charles Chan Massey, founder and CEO of West Hollywood, Calif.-based SYNAXIX Meetings & Events, and a leading planner of international meetings. “English is not the first, second or often third language, so understand that’s just the way it is. “You’ll be communicating with someone that doesn’t speak your native language, so plan accordingly.”
Massey, who will deliver Meetings Focus’ free “International Meetings: Tackling the Unfamiliar” webinar Aug. 29, says this unfamiliarity can also affect the negotiation process, as do different cultural norms.
“They may say ‘no’ but they mean ‘yes,’ or ‘no’ may mean the short version of ‘we don’t normally do it, let me check on that,’ but to you it means no,” Massey says. “Or they’ll say ‘yes’ and they can’t do it, and they’re afraid to tell you.”
When it comes to contracts, Massey stresses the need, even with major chains, to have a national sales person in the loop, or someone on the ground in the country where the meeting is going to be held to be an advocate.
Massey says that mealtime, in particular, can present challenges.
“When you’re choosing your menus there are certain ways meals and meal functions are done outside of the U.S., where the goal is to get attendees in and out fast,” he says. “In the U.S., we do a town hall style—we preset the salad, we preset the dessert. In some places that’s just not how it’s done.” Read more...