A few fun facts about Australia: the Tasmanian Devil actually exists and it has the jaw strength of a crocodile, no part of Australia is more than 1000km from the ocean and a beach, Melbourne has the second largest Greek population in the world after Athens, and The Great Barrier Reef is the largest organic construction on earth. What does this have to do with trade shows? Nothing, but if you are going to travel somewhere, it’s always great to have a few fun facts to fall back on!
Heading to Australia, other than the long flight, is pretty easy. Yes, you do need a visa. However, it’s a simple electronic process; you don’t even need to send in your passport as it just electronically tags to your passport number. If only all countries were that easy. Currency is the Australian Dollar. 1 AUD is about 77 U.S. cents currently.
There is plenty of public transportation in the major cities of Australia – from taxis to buses, trains and even water taxis/ferries. Don’t fret if you don’t have a driver lined up for your trip. It’s not really necessary here.
Designing and building an exhibit in Australia is very similar to the U.S. Plan to budget as you would for a U.S. trade show. Custom, system or hybrid are all possible ways of building an exhibit. Typically, exhibits are one-time use, however, you will see that companies do opt to build and store for a couple of years. Standard U.S. materials and offerings like laminate, different types of systems, lighting, AV etc., are all available in Australia. Be sure to talk to your exhibit builder to see what makes the most sense for you. Flooring tends to be raised and one-time use and they use more melamine than carpet. If you are doing a white floor – it definitely makes cleaning easier!
Australia does have a number of laws to keep in mind when working there. Non-Australian residents have restrictions as to what they can do. Now, most of you reading this will not be staying to work more than the trade show, but if you are, it’s best to check with the government for up to date regulations. Keep in mind that your exhibit builder will also have many health and safety laws to abide by. Installation crews need appropriate documentation to work in each state of Australia. Much like union members here, just because you are in a Chicago union doesn’t mean you can work in Las Vegas. While there are a few reciprocal work laws between states, it is important proper documentation is obtained or there will be strict penalties. Design and all appropriate worker documentation usually need to be submitted to the venue and the event organizer by your stand builder, so that all can be approved before build up. When possible, it’s best to use local labor.
If you have a bit of time before you leave the beautiful country of Australia, do a bit of sightseeing. Scuba/snorkel in the ocean, visit the Great Barrier Reef, see an opera at the Sydney Opera House or do the Uluru base walk in Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park – note climbing is NOT permitted there. There is a lot of great history in Australia, so see it – learn it. You won’t be disappointed!