Tips For International Business Travel
International business travel is more important than ever. Even though the digital age has made it easier to collaborate with others, human contact still counts.
In-person meetings increase rapport, facilitate cooperation and enhance bonds. The ROI on business travel is also very strong. Oxford Economics USA reports companies realize $12.50 in incremental revenue for every dollar invested in business travel.
Nonetheless, international business travel can present many challenges. According to the Creating a Frictionless Travel Experience – North America study, the top pain points have a common theme – they consume valuable time.
Here are some of the simplest ways to ensure you don’t waste valuable international business travel time to ensure a successful trip.
Tip #1 – Check Passport
Before you consider booking a flight or accommodation, ensure you’re ready to actually leave and arrive. Check passport requirements well before the date of your trip as well as the condition, expiry date and available space for entry and exit stamps.
Some countries, such as China, require a traveler to carry a passport that will not expire for at least 6 months from the date they enter the country. A damaged passport or one that doesn’t have free pages could lead to denied entry at your foreign destination.
Tip #2 Check Visa Requirements
Even seasoned business travelers can get caught up in trip and business planning and completely ignore whether they need a visa to enter a country, or not. Don’t assume you don’t need a visa or that you can get one once you arrive. This isn’t always the case.
Visa requirements vary drastically between nations and often depend on your citizenship. Countries such as North Korea, China, Russia and Saudi Arabia have notoriously difficult and lengthy visa processes which may include a face-to-face meeting at their embassy or consulate.
Luckily, some countries provide online portals or make visas available when you arrive, but certainly not all. Obtain a visa beforehand to save time and frustration.
Tip # 3 Copy Your Travel Documents
Take photos of all your pertinent documents and store them on a secure cloud platform. Include images of your passport or U.S. residency card, foreign visas, debit and credit cards and business itineraries. Also save the links to your airline and hotel booking confirmations, as well as any maps you might need.
Also manually record the telephone numbers of your hotel, airline or travel provider and emergency contacts, including your nearest U.S. Embassy in the foreign country so you can access them without the internet.
Tip # 4 Consider Health, Safety, & Insurance
Call your health insurance provider so you understand your coverage while you’re overseas. You may want to buy travel insurance to fill any gaps between your existing policies.
Also check whether your foreign destination requires vaccinations and an International Certificate of Vaccination. If you have allergies, document and translate them into the foreign language.
Always provide an itinerary to your office and family. Enroll in the free U.S. Department of State’s STEP program to receive up-to-date safety and security information and for emergencies while abroad.
Tip # 5 Understand Company Travel Requirements
A study conducted by the business travel arm of Expedia, Egencia, found that about 60% of businesses have a corporate travel policy. However, only 62% of U.S. travelers comply with company guidelines. This can lead to expense refusals and out-of-pocket costs.
However, many companies allow business travelers to book using any method they choose. Understand where your company stands from the get-go to avoid surprises and reimbursement delays. Always use a secure network if you decide to book travel yourself through your mobile device.
Tip # 6 Power Considerations
Ensure you have the correct travel adaptor for your location as well as all the cords to connect your devices.
Additionally, mobile calls and emails can drain devices quickly. Consider a portable USB charger as outlets aren’t always available, even in airports.
Tip # 7 Check Travel Options
Since time is money, booking the best travel options maximizes productivity. Most businesspersons use their travel time for work. Consequently, access to a well-equipped airport lounge, a spacious seat on a plane or train and Wi-Fi are usually important.
High-speed internet in the hotel room as well as access to international calls and text on your mobile device are usually a priority too. Reverse engineer and book according to your needs.
Also consider installing an app on your mobile device to help you rebook after any airline cancellation, delay or missed connection. It could save you a lot of grief.
Tip # 8 Skip the Lines
Frequent business travelers should absolutely consider a trusted travel program. Once enrolled, it reduces your processing time at US Customs and Border Protection and TSA security screening.
You’ll speed through security lines at domestic airports, without having to remove your shoes, or electronics or liquids from your carry-on.
Tip # 9 Language Matters
The countries you visit may speak another language. You may not need to be fluent in their tongue, but at the very least you should know a few introductory phrases. Install a language app on your mobile device too.
Using a person’s native language opens doors. It’s easier to create a genuine connection and strengthens business bonds.
Tip # 10 Research Proper Business Etiquette
Successful international business travel depends on a thorough understanding of the accepted practices in the regions you visit. Every nation has a unique culture and how you present yourself reflects who you are and the company you represent.
Important considerations include the appropriate attire for all events you may attend. Some regions have strict standards, especially for women. Others conduct meetings while sitting on the floor, which demands loose-fitting clothing.
Acceptable practices for introductions also vary greatly between countries. Japanese bow when introduced, but many countries prefer a handshake. Latin American cultures may not appreciate direct eye contact.
Business cards are another important consideration. In China, one should present a business card with two hands. In Japan, you offer your business card with your left hand and receive your counterpart’s with your right. Translated business cards are often expected.
Tip # 11 Connect With an International Business Partner
Delving into a new territory is a daunting prospect without connections. Blueback Global offers international business advice and services to connect you with regional experts. Our network of global professionals can help you overcome your multinational business challenges. Contact us for a free consultation and discover how you can tap into foreign markets and simplify international business.