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Business travel management tips: Preparation is everything

18th September 2013

Flightline Travel Management is a specialist business travel management solutions provider with many years experience of and expertise in corporate travel. As you’d expect from a leading independent business travel management service we’ve seen pretty much everything in the business, including how easy it is to conduct business travel overseas without the necessary preparation.

It’s all too easy to take the standards and expectations of the UK for granted when you travel abroad, and for the most part things work out okay. However, there are occasions when a failure to prepare results in unintended consequences which can adversely affect the success of your business trip. If you’re about to undertake your first overseas business trip then due diligence in learning something about the destination you’re visiting is essential. If you don’t you risk the possibility of being caught out by a lack of knowledge, or embarrassed by a social faux pas.

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The potential pitfalls for the business traveller are all too many, with different customs, different people, and different rules all potentially conspiring to ruin your business trip. Preparation is everything. Remember, this isn’t like a holiday, you’re not just representing yourself. You’re representing your business/organisation and the department you work in. You’re effectively an ambassador, and not just figuratively: many people interpret the behaviour of the individual as a representation of their nation. You don’t want to appear naive or unsophisticated, potentially insulting the very people you want to impress.

Rules and customs will of course vary from country to country, and it’s very important to learn as much as you can before you travel, but as equally important is your business trip readiness before you even leave the UK. Some of these points may seem obvious, but you’d be amazed how often business travellers overlook the essentials.

  • Is your passport up to date?
  • Will it still be valid when you return from your trip?
  • Does your business trip require a visa?
  • Do you have the correct visa type?

Health considerations are important too. As one of the few countries in the world that offers free healthcare, UK citizens can easily overlook the fact that the vast majority of the world do not. Business travel insurance is a must (particularly if you’re visiting the US), but it’s not the only consideration.

  • What about the local health conditions you’re travelling to?
  • Are vaccinations required?
  • Do you require anti-malaria pills?
  • Should you drink the water? (this includes consideration of whether to accept ice cubes in your drinks, and even whether you need to protect yourself from shower water entering your mouth).
  • Are you exposed to the possibility of altitude sickness?

When the business traveller stops to think about the potential pitfalls of their journey it can seem very alarming. That’s why it’s essential to do as much preparation in advance, so as to minimise the possibility of falling victim to local circumstances. Start with the little things:

  • Do you know what the local currency is, and what the exchange rate is? (You don’t want to overpay, do you?)
  • Are you visiting a different time zone, and if so, what is the time difference, and will this expose you to the possibility of jet lag?
  • Is their a local dress code that you need to adhere to? (This is articularly relevant to business women travelling in the Middle East.)
  • Have you brought the correct power cable for your laptop presentation? (Imagine getting that wrong.)

Then there’s the more subtle but vitally important consideration of local customs and etiquette:

  • Handshake or bow? If handshake, how much pressure? If bow, how low and for how long?
  • Even the distribution of business cards can make an impression. Did you know that in Japan it is considered rude if you do not spend a lot of time reading a business card you’ve received?
  • And then there’s the matter of gifts. Is a gift necessary, expected or appropriate? A mistake here could set a negative tone before you’ve even begun to conduct your business.

It can all seem pretty daunting to the uninitiated, but help is at hand. There are plenty of resource materials available to give yourself the best preparation before your business trip, both in print and online. There’s also the experience of colleagues to be drawn on, and your business travel management provider.

Business travel management services

Call leading independent business travel management specialist Flightline Travel Management today on 0844 3320174 and discover a level of business travel customer care and service second to none. We provide the best in business travel management solutions. Alternatively you can complete our business travel management contact form. We’ll be in touch with you within one business day.

We’re business travel management specialists, so let us know what you think. What considerations do you recommend for the overseas business traveller? Contact us as above, or Tweet us @FlightlineTrav1

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