Travelling for business?
The well-prepared Business Traveller makes thre whole thing look easy. Travelling on business, whether it involves a few hours of flight time, train travel or a long-haul flight, needn’t be a headache.
Most successful business travellers prepare for a trip the way they prepare for a major meeting or conference. Here are some straightforward guidelines to help make your trip a resounding success.
Avoid the mistake many international business travellers make, and take care not to overload your schedule. It’s important to make the most of your time overseas, but a realistic agenda of no more than three appointments per day will generally work better, allowing reloaxed and productive meetings without tight timescales.
Apart from the stress involved in trying to be in too many places at once, few things offends a potential client more than apologising and rushing off to your next meeting.
Consider your destination, flight availability and travel times, including connections and contingency plans in case of delays. And remember to factor in time to rest and recover properly at the other end before diving into business.
Re-confirm all your appointments before you leave and when you arrive, to avoid misunderstandings and lost time. It’s also a good idea to give your clients your contact information up front, including your hotel details, so they can reach you en route if they need to.
Etiquette and culture
Essential details like punctuality, acceptable dinner conversation and engaging in small talk before a meeting can change the atmosphere and make any meeting a success.It can vary incredibly widely. For example it’s unacceptable in Japan to be late for a business meeting and equally unacceptable to give someone a clock as a gift.
Find out in advance what’s expected from you in each country you visit, and familiarise yourself with these finer points.
Even the most professional sales presentation can crash and burn if you make a poor wardrobe choice. Wearing a loud tropical print shirt to a meeting in Barbados, for example, is not recommended.
Packing appropriate clothes matters for other reasons. If you’re heading for a warm climate, you need light-weight tropical garments plus a couple of warmer outfits for th journey there and back.
It’s also important because the right clothing can help protect you against mosquito bites, tick bites and so on. The last thing you need in a mosquito-ridden area is to be stuck in a t-shirt and shorts, being bitten from dawn to dusk and putting yourself at risk of terrible diseases like malaria.
How much to pack? There is a well-loved and very sensible saying: ‘Bring half as much luggage, and twice as many business cards.’
Staying fit and healthy
Bearing in mind time zone changes, airline meals and irregular eating and sleeping times, maintaining a balanced and healthy diet during a business trip can be a challenge.
In the interests of keeping your energy levels up, make the effort to follow a regular meal pattern and do your best to eat the kinds of things you would at home, at the same times. Eat at least twice a day to keep your energy levels up.
Exploring international cuisine can be very exciting, and sharing new dining experiences with clients helps build a strong rapport.
Remember to drink plenty of water and other fluids while travelling. To avoid fatigue and sleep complications, minimise your alcohol intake.
- Familiarise yourself with local visa and documentation requirements
- Check the local currency and make sure you have some ready, or can exchange some at the other end
- Study the infrastructure and transportation facilities in and around the area you’re visiting so it isn’t totally unfamiliar
- Make sure you have the medication and vaccinations you need for the countries you’re visiting by booking an appointment six weeks or so before you leave, with our travel vaccination clinic in London