GREETINGS, READERS OF our new international column! In a moment of madness, the staff of Special Events Magazine agreed that some editorial input from the United Kingdom might help strengthen the international flavor of the magazine. And, other than make me promise to avoid wine and gravy stains on the copy, I've been given free range. So expect some wacky worldwide tales!

First, on behalf of the 30-plus Brits who made the trip across the pond, I would like to thank everyone at Special Events Magazine, The Special Event and the International Special Events Society for making us feel so welcome.

"Spectacular." "Fantastic." "Simply the best." These were just some of the comments from our U.K. contingent following the Opening Night party at SeaWorld Florida and the Gala Awards Ceremony & Celebration at The Peabody Orlando. Hosting an event for special event professionals with their ever-critical eyes is a daunting task, and we would like to congratulate all involved with the standard of the show.

Experienced U.K. party organizers, such as Mike Kershaw of the Ultimate Experience, were particularly impressed by the attention to detail and the quality of all the show elements.

"There was so much going on," says Mike. "There was something for everyone somewhere at some point. The ideas and logistics were spot-on. It was all about good timing." Along with the dancing (and drinking!?!), the parties were undoubtedly the most fun medium for the exchange of ideas. The Special Event exhibition and seminar program completed the recipe for an international melting pot of shared ideas.

The launch of this column is indicative of the increasing importance of seeing the whole world as potential clients. The international marketplace is a reality-and one that is growing. The globe gets smaller as corporate conglomerates transcend continents. As companies enter new territories, they expect to be able to produce their events far and wide. Yet, the corporate budgets and expertise you may take for granted in America may not be so accepted elsewhere. The basic value of events is a relatively new experience to companies in many areas of the world. In fact, many foreign companies don't allocate large budgets for special events. This is a two-way street, and before corporate companies release more cash, special event professionals have to justify themselves through the standard of their events.

Certain sectors of the industry need to take their pep pills, shake off their sore heads and start cooperating for the good of the whole industry. This is one reason that I see ISES as playing a crucial role in the future of our industry.

Here in the U.K., we have a lowly 40 ISES members, and have just applied for our full chapter status. The very concepts that underpin the ethos of ISES, such as the willingness to share information with potential competitors, even on issues such as health and safety, are new to the fiercely competitive U.K. event industry.

I have sat on several trade associations' council meetings in the U.K., and never have I been so proud to be associated with one as the U.K. ISES chapter; and its fire has been fueled from the past experiences of our American cousins. ISES (like this humble column) is a real forum for the communication of practical experience and future ideas. As our U.K. ISES chapter president Tony Timms, of the Gala Award-winning company Classic, says, "There is lot to be learned from each other, but we must also remember there is often more we can teach than we realize."

Anyway, the kettle's boiling and tea's up. I've rattled on largely about the U.K. in this first column, but rest assured the rest of the world is on the way. I have been in contact with Australian and South African event professionals who are keen to join in and hopefully we will give you many useful insights into international trade as this bimonthly column proceeds. If any other international readers would like to contribute, please e-mail me at graham.brown@easynet.co.uk