PLANNER’S PORTFOLIO CHECKLIST
14 Meetings & Conventions • mcmag.com August 2014
How to Plan a Multicultural Event
By Walter Stugger
encourage the opposite. Some attendees
therefore will hold back on interacting out of
long-held tradition. Encourage interaction
by scheduling ice-breaking activities. Where
possible, make face-to-face introductions
yourself while respecting others’ traditions.
❑ Be creative in event theming. Explore various traditions for motivational theme concepts. Most cultures have their own myths
and folktales dealing with such classic themes
as exploration, courage, creativity, collaboration and innovation. Tap these sources for
fresh event ideas and inspiration.
❑Incorporate historic references. At your
event destination, identify local sites with historic, architectural and artistic significance,
and plan off-site programs there. Hire local
guides to maximize cultural interaction.
❑ Tap into local culture. Identify creative
leaders from the local arts community and
book them as speakers, entertainers, hosts,
performers and trainers.
FOOD AND DRINK
❑ Respect food-and-beverage taboos.
Orthodox Jews require kosher food and beverages.
Observant Muslims require halal certification for their food and beverages. Many Hindus and Buddhists follow strict vegan diets,
avoiding meat, fish, fowl and animal products. In addition, many people adhere to vegetarian diets for nonreligious reasons.
❑Plan alcohol offerings with sensitivity.
Many cultures expect alcohol to be served at
business and social functions; others oppose
it. Have nonalcoholic options available at receptions; avoid terms like “cocktail hour.”
❑ Get creative in the kitchen. Contract local
chefs to prepare culinary favorites with ethnic
specialties and authentic flavors to enhance
your off-site programs and social events. ■
CREATING PROGRAMS THAT ENABLE EVERYONE TO ENGAGE
• Select locations
and dates that do
for very early or late
• Be aware of cultural differences with
respect to notions
of timing and social
• Look to local customs for themes and
important sites to
use for event venues.
• Understand dietary restrictions and
Multicultural awareness is essential in planning truly inclusive events that foster collaboration, encour- age communication and enhance
deep engagement. The following checklist
was created by Walter Stugger, managing/
creative director of Inspiria Global Events
( inspiria-global-events.com), based in Salzburg,
Austria, and New York City.
❑ Choose locations wisely. Select destinations
accessible to international travelers. Look for
multiple transportation routes: international
flights, railroad connections, reliable roads
and (if relevant) good maritime options.
❑ Plan around international arrivals. International flights often arrive outside of business
hours. Plan welcome ceremonies accordingly.
❑ Schedule with savvy. Check event days for
possible conflict with national, religious or
❑ Specify starting times. Concepts of punctuality vary enormously. For programs to
start precisely on scheduled time, you must
emphasize the start time. For example: “
Programs start at 8 a.m. sharp. Latecomers will
be seated at the break.”
❑ Address language barriers. Many attendees
struggle privately with unfamiliar tongues
and consequently communicate less. Put
them at ease by providing written materials
in advance of the program, to allow for familiarization ahead of time. Give information
using visuals in addition to printed or spoken words, and minimize use of slang, pop-culture references or cultural “in-jokes” that
can exclude non-native speakers. Encourage
multilingual attendees to volunteer to help.
❑ Make introductions. Some cultures encourage outgoing, extroverted behavior; others
> “Planning an Accessible Meeting”
> “F&B for Attendees With Special
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