You maybe the king of the streets in New York or the business guru in the U.S. but are less informed of the corporate practice outside of the borders. It’s fine; to an extent, we all are in the same boat. If you plan to travel for work, you should know that our ways of doing things often remain left behind and new ones often embrace us right from the airport to the hotels and conference rooms.
Significance of Preparation
“It’s not only important to prepare for a business trip outside of the borders, it’s essential.” This is according to Dale Kurow, a New York-based travel coach. He says that one must pay enough attention to learning about the country and people s/he intends to visit and stay with respectively, especially if it’s a first trip out. You’ll need to pick up the local country-specific business acumen.
“It is important to remember that when you travel for work outside the country, you are not just representing yourself but the country, your company, and your department, which means that you are an ambassador and therefore should act accordingly.” This is according to Andy Teach, the author of From Graduation to Corporation and host of the Youtube channel FromGrradToCorp.
The Necessity of Research
The truth is that you are often at liberty to do whatever you please on vacation but not when you travel for work. Lack of proper preparation will not only make you naïve and unsophisticated, but it also bears the risk of embarrassing your host and making you seem less ready for a similar role or position. Lack of proper preparation also bears the risk of negative impact on your future career.
This calls for doing some research into the culture and customs of the natives. This would help avoid the possibility of offending the people you are supposed to work and or stay with. It would also come in handy as a security cushion in the sense that you’ll be able to appear more of a local than a tourist. You could do this by reading books or consulting with people who have been to the country.
Brief Guide What to Know
“With so much on the line for an overseas business trip, every detail must be thoroughly examined,” added Teach. Rules and customs also vary. It’s important to know specifics. Ask yourself these:
- Is my passport up-to-date? Is it within the 6 months of expiration? If that’s the case then you may need to renew it because some countries may not accept it.
- Do I need a visa?
- What vaccinations do I need? Is it necessary to carry an anti-mosquito cream or anti-malaria pills?
- Will I possibly suffer from altitude sickness?
- Is the water drinkable? If not, what can I do about it? Can I carry my own bottles or what alternatives do they have in the country?
- What is the current currency exchange rate?
- What is the time difference?
- How about the dress code, is it defined like it is in the Islam dominated Middle-East countries where women are not required to show skin.
- What are some of the most significant customs in that country? For example, in Japan, it is customary to spend some time reading a person’s business card if they hand it to you.
- What are some of the laws of the country? (In Singapore, gum chewing is illegal.)
- Are handshakes and or bows acceptable when greeting someone? How much pressure should I apply in the handshake?
- Is it expected that I socialize with the people I am working with after business is concluded?
- Is a gift appropriate for the people I’m working with?
- If I’m bringing my own equipment for a PowerPoint presentation, what type of electrical adaptor is required?
- Will any security be required?
- Do I need travel insurance?
- Who can I contact in case of an emergency?
- How do they conduct meetings there?
- Do I need to learn the language? Usually, it helps to learn a few key words. The hosts will appreciate.
It’s also important that you know how to show respect in the country you’re traveling to, how to make the initial introduction, what rules apply to tipping and who pays for the meals. In Japan, for instance, business cards are exchanged using both hands and so are gifts. Dressing is also more conservative than in the U.S. You may want to buy more dark business suits for the conferences.
The other thing that’s necessary to know is that whichever country you intend to travel to; you will need to master the art of necessary silence while observing how others speak and act. One more thing you need to know is that websites and books are a rich source of information regarding local concerns as customs and foreign regulations. It will help to grab a book or read the local newspaper.
Here at Capstone World Travel, we can help you find a side trip while on business travel so that you can thoroughly enjoy your brief stay!