Planning an exhibition in France or in any other foreign country implies a lot of details one might not necessarily think of right away, e.g. visa, passport or time-zone difference.
Knowing that, the first thing you want to do is to register for the trade-show as soon as possible. Most of the time, you’ll be provided with a detailed manual of all the deadlines and mandatory documents. In case this is not the case, here’s what you need to know.
Tip: a reverse planning will give you a good overview of what you need to do and when you need to do it in order to meet your deadlines.
1. Obtain legal documents
As a European country, France is located in The Schengen Area. If you live within the Shengen Area, then you don’t need a visa, and as a European citizen, you don’t need your passport either.
Otherwise, you’ll need both.
- Is your passport valid? If not, how much time will it take to make a new one?
- Find all information on how to get a visa here: Getting a Visa.
2. Where are you going to stay?
Trade-shows are generally located near big cities but often in the suburbs, where hotel capacities are limited. International trade-shows gather a lot of people in the same place and depending on the season, you might even be competing with tourists to get a hotel room in France.
- Book your flight and hotel before everyone else
- Decide and plan how you will get there : public transportation, cab, car rental…
3. What about your booth?
In case you are using you own-booth
- How are you going to ship it? By truck? By boat? Which company?
- Look into the time needed for your booth to get shipped and add a few extra days to your timeline (Christmas, French holidays or summer vacations can cause delays)
- Does your booth meet the French standards? (safety, electricity…)
- Does the trade show provide you with an installation/dismantle crew?
- What is included in your contract with the trade-show? (Cleaning and catering service, AC…)
In case you decide to rent/buy a custom-made booth
- Use those 4 criteria to pick your vendor:
- a) Does he match your needs in terms of design?
- b) How responsive is he?
- c) Can he meet your deadlines?
- Be as clear as you can in your demand. Avoid misinterpretations (you can use pictures in your e-mails).
- Proofread all the contracts. Make sure you understand exactly what’s included in the service you are paying for.
- Follow each phone call with a recapitulative e-mail.
4. Know your currency
It’s now time to establish a budget and to know the currency you’re going to use.
- Establish a limited budget for all the upcoming expenses.
- Look into the Euro value on the market, and its possible fluctuations towards your home currency.
- What about the French VAT policy?
- Do you need local currency on cash? If yes, how much?
- Are you going to sell products on your stand? Will it be cash only?
- If yes, what currency will you accept?
- If not, does the trade-show provide you with a credit card machine?
Finally, if needed, hire an interpreter or a guide to be by your side during the trade show. It might help you if you are not familiar with French customs and language.