Events are an important segment of both business and leisure tourism, and represent a growing income for the hospitality industry, with a positive contribution the gross domestic product of the most important tourist destinations. Events are products designed and organized to foster social interaction between different individuals, and they are becoming more and more international, with participants coming form different cultural contexts. More than in other bussinesses, the quality of personal interaction and the effectiveness of communication affect the users’ experience and, consequently, the profitability of the involved firms. In a business where social interaction is the basis of customer satisfaction and intangible content is the foundation for value creation, cultural competence - meant as the ability to manage culturalknowledge in an effective and valuable way - becomes a key factor of success.the ability to communicate and negotiate with people from different contexts is a key requirement for achieving competitive advantage.Firms are becoming more and more aware of cultural issues: While in Italy the investment that hospitality firms make in relation to the cultural education of their employees and the cultural analysis of target markets is still low, Asian competitors, who gain positions in the tourism competitiveness rankings, are investing increasingly in these activities with positive results on the ability to attract European and US public and private events.Although the marketing literature is rich of contributions highlighting the impact of culture on consumer behaviour and purchasing decisions, the role of cultural competence in the specific field of event marketing is less explored. This article represents an attempt to contribute to the existing gap in literature, focusing on the role that cultural expertise can have for the success of the events. As with products and perhaps even more, finding the right trade-off between standardization and adaptation is critical to service companies. On the one hand, hospitality firms need to defend brand uniqueness and enhance their identity as a crucial element of customer differentiation and loyalty. On the other hand, the need to diversify the customerportfolio and lengthen the tourist seasons urges to look for elements that can facilitate attracting potential customers from new markets, and consolidating the competitive position in core markets.Starting for a review of the existing literature, this article explores the potential benefits firms can derive for a cultural analysis iof the target market and the development of a cultural-sensitive campain. Hofstede’s model is used as a basis of cultural knowledge, and the empirical analysis gives some evidence of the way to develop a culturally competent approach to international tourism markets.
Keywords: Event marketing, cultural expertise, cross-cultural management, values, Hofstede