Business travel, whether overseas or at home, is an essential part of many jobs. Trips are often spent flitting back and forth between meetings and a hotel room via a taxi, which can leave everyone involved exhausted and in need of a holiday! However, with the right preparation and attitude, a business trip can be both productive and enjoyable.
Prepare an itinerary
Many people believe that scheduling back-to-back meetings is the most effective way to spend their business trip. This is more likely to happen when travelling with colleagues, in an attempt to ‘out-meeting’ each other. However, it’s actually more productive to organise fewer meetings, but with key people, spreading them comfortably throughout the day. This will allow each meeting to be undertaken with a clearer head and key goals in mind. A schedule should be flexible enough to allow for travel delays and other such unexpected problems, as well as giving you time to think over each conversation and jot down some notes before jumping into the next engagement.
Learn about the culture
Reading up on cultural norms, styles of dress and attitudes towards everything from punctuality to formality is essential when conducting business overseas and can avoid any awkward gaffes. For example, in the Middle East, it is considered polite to engage in small talk before business is discussed. Mastering a few key phrases in the local language will also go a long way with staff and business partners alike.
Before embarking on a trip, check travel advisories for weather warnings, security threats and current scams. Comprehensive travel insurance should be taken out and research into the relevant embassy should be done. It is also vital to have a backup plan in place, so that if travel to your intended destination isn’t possible you can go elsewhere for a productive day.
Schedule in down time
A trip doesn’t have to be all business. Prior research should be done into local restaurants, exhibitions and attractions, as this will refresh and revitalise a weary traveller and stop the trip from feeling like a 48-hour workday. These events can also act as alternatives to formal business meetings, helping international business partners feel more at ease. You can make these essential outings part of your business plan with cards like the American Express Platinum Business Card. This credit card offers business travellers exclusive discounts on a range of experiences, such as Time Out Gourmet Escapes, spa days and tickets to the finest shows in town. One Membership Reward is earned for almost every £1 spent on the card, making that business trip even more worthwhile.