May 29, 2024 8:01 PM
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International Business: Then and Now

by Liese Peterson


If you’re old enough to remember that song (when it was a hit) then you no doubt remember the challenges of exhibiting before the Internet, technology in general, and the growth of global travel made things so much easier.  

Even if you can’t remember that song (much less who sang it) in the last two decades change has been so great you most likely remember some of the “bad old days”. If you’re having one of those days, you might enjoy taking this quiz.  It will certainly help if you know what Woodstock was, and if you had a decent high school history teacher. Or a mentor old enough to have astonished you with stories of tradeshows that took place before the year 2000. It will also help you test your knowledge of international business. If you don’t know the answer, ask anyone who’s showing a little gray around the temples – you’ll be surprised what you learn!

World Events

At one point in history, President Ronald Reagan, speaking on June 12, 1987 said in a speech, “TEAR DOWN THIS WALL!”  

Where was Reagan when he gave this famous speech, to whom was it addressed, and what wall was he talking about?

  1. He was in Matamoros, Mexico, addressing Mexican President Miguel de la Madrid and he was talking about a border wall Americans were trying to build on the Mexico-Texas border.
  2. He was in West Berlin, addressing Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, and he was talking about the Berlin Wall that separated West Germany from East Germany.
  3. He was at the annual EDPA convention at McCormick Place in Chicago, and he was addressing the audience of exhibit builders, urging them to tear down the walls that come between Americans, especially among different generations.  
  4. He was on the Great Wall of China, addressing American reporters following him on his mission to stop the outsourcing of US manufacturing to Asian competitors.

What happened in 1987 had a profound effect on all aspects of our country’s development and in tradeshows especially.  Which of the following also came about as a direct result of what happened in 1987?

  1. The European Economic Community eventually became today’s European Union.
  2. The euro was introduced.
  3. The way taxes were charged to people exhibiting internationally changed dramatically, making it easier to exhibit in more than one country.
  4. Airline competition accelerated after the airlines were deregulated and fares dropped, enabling people to travel the world at a lower cost.
  5. American show organizers stopped charging drayage.
  6. All of the above
  7. Some of the above (If you pick this answer, you must specify what your choices are)

One of the most challenging things that needed to be dealt with at the turn of the century was the reconciliation of something known as VAT.  Some exhibit building companies found it so important that VAT was a key part of whether they would or would not establish their own foreign subsidiaries.  What does VAT stand for?

  1. Variable Agricultural Tariffs
  2. Video Adjustment Techniques
  3. Value Added Tax
  4. Various Alternative Teaching
  5. None of the above

One of the biggest changes in the style, effectiveness and nature of design came about because of which of the following key events?

  1. The experience of 9/11 made people realize that tradeshows were dependent on people’s ability to travel by plane, and therefore vulnerable to terrorism.
  2. The cost of drayage compelled designers to utilize more lightweight materials, as drayage costs were calculated based on the weight of the exhibit components being transferred from the loading dock to the exhibit space.
  3. The internet introduced audiences worldwide to virtual reality, which was to have a huge impact on how exhibitors’ individual spaces were divided up and assigned to specific tasks.
  4. The Hanseatic League, after World War I, decided to ask its members to fairly divide up locations for the German Messen (convention centers) so that no one German city would have an unfair competitive advantage when trying to recover from the damage caused by the war.
  5. Apple introduced the MacIntosh computer.
  6. All of the above
  7. Which one in particular had the biggest effect on trade show design in the United States?

Tradeshows Today

For each of the following shows, name its American counterpart:

ANUGA (Cologne)

ICS (Amsterdam)

IFA (Berlin)

Frankfurt Book Fair

Bauma (Munich)

Hannover Messe

CEBIT (Hannover)

ISM (Cologne)

MEDICA (Düsseldorf)

Is drayage a thing in Europe?  How about Mexico?  What about China?

Name three things all European exhibitors feel are mandatory to offer visitors to their exhibit, which are not necessarily top-of-mind for Americans exhibiting in the US.

Everything, Everywhere, All At Once

Everything Everywhere All At Once, not an old song, but a movie today, and something we in the tradeshow world experience on a daily basis.

Want to do something nice for a really old colleague?  Sit down with them and work on this quiz together.  Not only will you learn from each other, both of you will appreciate how much change you’ve experienced, and you will establish a great relationship with someone whose history and wisdom you can benefit from.  Have fun – and be sure to check the next issue of Exhibit City News for answers, explanations, and surprises!

  • Superior Logistics

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