With international travel greatly reduced due to the COVID-19 pandemic, WEDC’s typical practice of leading half a dozen Global Trade Ventures each year simply wasn’t practical—but the need for Wisconsin companies to make connections in overseas markets to grow their exports hasn’t subsided. To help companies continue to forge these connections and find new customers around the world, WEDC is organizing its first-ever virtual Global Trade Venture. This virtual trade venture will connect Wisconsin companies with potential partners in Germany and will take place Sept. 21-Oct. 2, 2020. Another virtual trade venture will follow shortly thereafter, connecting Wisconsin companies with potential partners in South Korea during November 2020.
What is a virtual Global Trade Venture?
As with in-person Global Trade Ventures, the virtual Global Trade Venture will connect Wisconsin companies that wish to grow their exports with potential partners that have been custom-selected for each specific company based on research by Wisconsin’s authorized trade representative in the market. The meetings will take place online, as will the country briefing and any other organized group events that are part of the program.
Why the switch to the virtual trade venture format?
Even with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on businesses, international trade continues, and WEDC remains ready to assist Wisconsin companies with their export goals. Companies can emerge stronger from the economic downturn if they take steps now to pursue new opportunities.
How is the virtual trade venture structured?
As with all WEDC Global Trade Ventures, Wisconsin’s in-market trade representative will conduct a market assessment for your specific sector and search for the distributors, end users and customers that best fit your profile of the ideal business partner. In lieu of the office visits and plant tours that would normally be part of a global trade venture, WEDC will arrange online meetings with senior decision-makers, handling technology and scheduling so you can focus on your customers’ needs and interests. WEDC will arrange for interpreters with knowledge of your industry if they are needed, and will help you prepare for your meetings with tips on how best to appeal to German customers and convey your value proposition.
What advantages does the virtual format offer?
While Germany is not a large country by area (it is about the size of Wisconsin and Minnesota combined), travel time between meeting locations can eat up plenty of time on a traditional trade venture. By conducting the meetings virtually, you may be able to meet with a potential buyer in Bremen minutes after concluding a meeting with someone almost 500 miles away in Munich. In addition, the cost for the virtual global trade venture is significantly less, since it does not require airfare or lodging. The price for an in-person Global Trade Venture is often well into the thousands, taking into account airfare, lodging and meals. The participant fee for the virtual Global Trade Venture to Germany is just $500.
The virtual format offers one more benefit: you won’t be required to be away from the office for a full work week. Because of the time zone difference, most meetings with your German counterparts will be scheduled in the morning, leaving your afternoons free. The meeting schedule will be spread across two weeks to enable easier scheduling given the limited time window for meetings each day, making the meeting schedule lighter on any given day.
What does the price include?
The $500 participant fee, which is subsidized to help Wisconsin companies grow their exports, includes market research and customized one-on-one appointments with potential customers, agents, distributors and other market intermediaries; electronic meeting scheduling and hosting services provided by WEDC; a two-hour introductory briefing covering German culture and business environment, expectations and strategies for success; and interpreter fees as needed.
Why should companies participate in the virtual program instead of waiting for in-person Global Trade Ventures to resume?
Under normal circumstances, face-to-face meetings are key to establishing trust in international business, and will be again once the pandemic passes. But given recent events and constraints on international travel, the focus has shifted to companies that are nimble and adaptable. Wisconsin firms that take advantage of technology, instead of letting export expansion grind to a halt, can set themselves apart in international markets, leaving them well positioned to grow these relationships further once travel restrictions ease and in-person meetings become possible.
How long will virtual trade ventures continue?
No definite decision has been made; instead, WEDC will continue to monitor the situation and make decisions based on public health guidance about the safety of meetings and travel. WEDC will also consider the preferences of Wisconsin companies for virtual versus in-person events. Visit WEDC’s Global Trade Venture information page for the latest schedule.