International business travel can offer many benefits for both large and small companies.
Organizations can expand and strengthen their network abroad, win new international clients, forge partnerships, or sow the seeds for future referrals. Meanwhile, businesses with overseas customers can reap the benefits of reconnecting in person instead of via video call.
Corporate travel outside America can also give employees a better understanding of global business perspectives. Business travelers might also gain insights into worldwide trends related to their industry. Foreign business trips also offer chances for professional growth, with opportunities to learn new approaches or be inspired by different cultures.
But, organizing business travel can be challenging. From last-minute flight delays to rapidly changing travel restrictions, there are many pitfalls to navigate. To ensure an international business trip is as successful as possible, there are multiple things that travelers and travel managers can do to prepare.
Planning a business trip or managing the travel program for your organization?
Here are our top tips to help take the stress out of your international corporate travel!
1. Study up on travel requirements and restrictions
Travel rules and regulations can catch you off guard no matter how much travel experience you have. This is especially true since the pandemic when we learned that a country's entry restrictions and requirements could change last minute.
Check what documentation is needed to enter any countries, including stopovers, ahead of time. It's important to do this even if it's a country you've organized travel to before, as requirements can change. You will also need to find out how many months you have left on your passport and if you need visas.
Some countries in Europe are introducing the need for certain visa-exempt travelers to apply for an ETIAS to enter. These requirements are expected to come into force in 2024, so travelers to Europe must keep abreast of the incoming changes.
Finally, there is one more set of rules you need to research! Check that your corporate travel policy is up-to-date so employees know how to approve business trip arrangements and submit their travel expenses.
2. It's advantageous to book in advance
It pays to research and book travel as early as you can. Firming up your plans ASAP can give business travelers access to early-bird pricing, saving money on accommodation, airfares, public transportation, and car rentals. You'll also have more options available, so you can choose the best providers for your itinerary.
A travel management solution, such as TravelPerk, can help organize your entire trip and offer exclusive rates through our unparalleled travel industry connections. Our user friendly booking tool also allows travel managers to preset parameters for powerful automated approval workflows, allowing team leaders to focus on more critical tasks.
As well as saving time and keeping travel spending on track, TravelPerk's mobile app offers you 24/7 customer support so issues like flight cancellations can be resolved quickly.
3. Take out travel insurance
Travel insurance for global business travel can cover you against various issues on the road. Covering theft and unexpected healthcare emergencies, insurance can also compensate for canceled flights and accommodation.
Not only can this help save your company from additional travel expenses. Taking out insurance can eliminate some of the anxiety associated with traveling abroad and streamline the processes of organizing alternative arrangements. Policy inclusions do differ, so take your time to find one that meets your travel needs.
Serious companies need a clear travel policy
Discover here the top seven business travel insurance providers in the US and UK.
4. Staying safe can be stress-free
If the travel risk to a country you or your employees are visiting increases, you might have to change or cancel your business trip. The U.S. Department of State website lists travel advisories so you can keep up-to-date with any warnings about your destinations. Alert levels can be raised due to potential threats to travelers' safety, such as health concerns, acts of terrorism, or natural disasters.
Another benefit of using a TMC like TravelPerk is receiving real-time safety updates for your travel arrangements. Rather than constantly checking websites, handy notifications can be sent directly to your travelers and management.
As well as ensuring you meet your duty of care to your employees and gifting everyone peace of mind, this feature can also provide notifications on any changing entry requirements for your travel plans.
5. Pack appropriately
If you've ever visited London in summer, you'll know it can feel daunting to pack for varying weather conditions! Although the climate is unlikely to become more predictable anytime soon, there are other things you can be certain of in advance. Find out the voltage and type of plug outlet in destination countries and ensure you have enough adapters for all your gadgets!
Confirming whether company credit cards will work overseas and if your bank offers reasonable exchange rates is also critical. Another option is to take a prepaid travel card, as some offer low/no fees and competitive rates.
Remember that although you're probably used to paying by card in New York or other American cities, some countries are still cash-based. So, see if you need to get notes and coins from a currency converter before the trip.
6. Research cultural considerations and etiquette
Learning the cultural norms of your host country is key to ensuring you're aware of any sensitivities. This is even more important in corporate settings, so check what protocols to follow for respectful greetings, business meetings, and dining out.
For anyone traveling to a country that speaks a different language, learning a few basic phrases can also be very useful.
7. Prioritize health and well-being
We have all been struck by the effects of jet lag after a long haul flight. It can be hard to jump into meetings when you're feeling tired, but there are some things you can do to feel more energized.
Adjusting your sleep schedule to match your destination's time zone, staying hydrated, and taking in natural light can help. There are optimal times of day to do this, depending on the journey, and apps can calculate this for you.
8. Plan for productivity
Business travelers can hit the ground running by organizing a mobile plan with international minutes and data ahead of time or buying a local sim card at the airport.
In case of patchy reception, download maps offline to navigate without relying on Wi-Fi. If you're traveling without a car rental, be ready to go by installing ride-sharing and local public transport apps before departure.
No one wants to hit an important meeting straight from an international flight. If the schedule allows, give yourself or your employees time to freshen up after arrival. They are more likely to impress once they are rested.
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