Business trips can be challenging depending on the country you are visiting in terms of cultural differences, food, timezone, accommodation, transportation, climate, security issues and so on. Especially if you are planning to visit more than one company from different countries in a certain time.
As it will not be a touristic tour, you probably adjust your schedule according to the appointments given to you. No worries. Although it seems stressful, a good plan makes it all easy.
Every country has their specific cultural characteristics. While in some cultures appointments are very important, some don’t care at all, you just drop in. Either way, the first thing to do is make a list of the companies you want to visit. Then schedule your trip between the dates you are given the most appointments for.
When you’ve finished making your list, now it’s time to map out the route. Pin the companies on the google maps and put them in order according to the appointments you have been given. Then search for accomodation close to the area where most of the companies are located.
In addition to the firms on the list, look around them on the map and pin them as well in case you find an opportunity for a cold call while you are already in the neighbourhood.
Having done with mapping out your list and other prospects thereabouts, the next step is planning for the perfect trip.
#1 Visa Requirements
If you need a visa to enter the country/ies learn what criteria you have to fulfil. Long before your visit, start preparing the documents required for visa application. Take also into account extraordinary situations that cause you to be late for or cancel the trip.
#2 Learn The Local Language
Learn the local language at a basic level enough to communicate with locals and counterparts. Asking for directions, ordering a meal at a restaurant, greeting, saying goodbye, thanking, and apologising in the local language could help you more than you imagine.
When visiting different cultures, it is quite possible that some of your actions that would normally be considered natural in your culture will be misunderstood in their culture. To make a good impression and not to offend anyone, study the culture and customs making sure you know particularly not-to-do’s as well as to-do’s. If you are unsure though, try to act with universal business etiquette like always saying “please” and “thank you”, expecting a handshake, never interrupting, punctuality and not using your phone during conversation.
#4 Local Calendar
In planning your visit take note of off days such as holidays, festivals, religious days etc. Otherwise your business trip turns out to be a touristic trip and all your schedule is ruined. You can make use of time and date to learn everything about a country.
Book flights that are scheduled to arrive early and at least one day before as you’ll need to rest and refresh yourself before your meeting. Book hotels or airbnb close to the location of the firms to visit. Plan your inland transportation if you need to rent a car or public transport.
#6 Research Your Destination
Depending on the area you are travelling, you may need to take extra precautions against muggers, pickpockets, and swindlers. So, it’s good to know where exactly you are going and how you’ll manage to protect yourself from such risks.
It’s also important to know nice places to eat, because if you are not careful about what you eat, you may be sick all week and come back home full of sorrow.
#7 Local Guide
As English is not a formal language of all the countries in the world, you can’t blame locals for not speaking English. If you find a guide to accompany you during your stay, he/she will be of great help to you. I’m going to give two examples from my own experiences.
When I travel around Europe I don’t need a guide. As I can speak English, German and Turkish it’s easy for me to find my way around. I needed a guide only in 2 countries: Georgia and Iraq.
This is Joseph a Georgian guy who speaks perfect English and Russian. Joseph had accompanied me with his own car. We had a good time traveling all around Georgia. Thanks to him, we not only visited the companies on the list but also we found more companies than the list. He drove, interpreted, made the sales pitches , I just became his assistant and we became good friends. It was a great experience for me and we really had fun.
My second guy is Gaylan from Iraq. Gaylan, like Joseph did, took me from my hotel and drove city to city in Northern Iraq. As he was and looked local, we never had a bad experience for 4 days. If he weren’t, I would absolutely not find those companies which actually seemed more like empty depots than companies.
#8 Important Addresses
In case you lose internet connection, write down all the companies’ addresses in a notebook. Should the need arise you can open up your notebook and keep going. It’s also advisable that you take notes of important places like the local police station, embassy, hospital and information offices in case of an emergency.
Keep these records both in your phone, cloud and notebook.
#9 Country-specific precautions
When you are going abroad, always remember that you are going to a different climate and geography and depending on the place you are going you may need to be vaccinated. The elevation may affect you negatively or you may not like the water. Study the country thoroughly and take your precautions accordingly.
#10 Know who you’ll be meeting
It can sometimes be difficult to start a conversation or open new topics. In order to feel comfortable and have a good time, do research about your prospects and prepare yourself for the meeting as well against all possible questions they might ask about yourself.
Travel like you are cavalry, not an artilleryman. Keep that in mind while packing your staff. Try not to take more than two bags: one backpack, one suitcase. Remember that you’ll go through checkpoints, so keep your liquids and electronics easily accessible in your backpack.
Here are the essentials in your bag:
- Chargers, adapters, power banks
- Business cards, stationery
- Plastic garment bags
- Personal hygiene and care products
- Medicine (painkillers, vitamins, supplements etc.)
- Formal and casual clothes
- Extra shoes, underclothes and socks
- Documents (passport, travel documents, tickets, id, driving licence)
Check the local weather
Before leaving your country, check what the weather is like there for 1-2 weeks and make sure that you pack according to the destination country. You may have to take extra clothes or accessories such as gloves, cap, boots, coat, inhaler, fly-repellent creams or sunscreen.
Charge the electronics
Before departure, charge your electronic devices, mobile phone in particular. Make sure that your mobile phone’s battery is enough to take you to the first accomodation when you land in.
Learn how much you will pay during your trip when you use your phone and when you get a local package. Choose whichever suits you and arrange it beforehand.
Get print copies
Along with digital ones which will speed your movement at checkpoints, keep also the hard copies of your tickets and confirmation numbers.
Stow healthy food
In order not to have unexpected headaches, upset stomach or something like that, take water and some healthy food packages like dried fruits, nuts etc.
When you land in, head to the hotel take your time to acclimate to the local time, eat healthy, refresh yourself and get a good night’s sleep.
You probably are travelling with the company credit card to cover the expenses or you will spend your money and your expenses will be covered when you come back with the bills. Don’t forget to keep all the receipts and bring them with you.
Prepare for the meetings
When you are ready for the week, first, check up on the plan and prepare the staff (cards, contract, laptop, tablet, catalogue, flyer, sample, presentation documents and whatever your job requires) you will carry with you the next day.
Go over your sales pitch, study the files you collected about people you’ll meet, Check the addresses on the map again and plan the time you will leave the hotel and finally leave a message to the company confirming the time you’ll meet.
And you are ready.
Go get ’em!