From head-butting monks to ordering cake instead of chicken, David Swann, travel money expert from Travelex shares the ultimate faux-pas of business travel.
With over 6,000 business trips made last year, there is still a lot to learn when it comes to having successful meetings abroad. Here at Travelex, we interviewed 1,000 business travellers to find out their biggest business travel blunders so you can avoid them next time you travel with work.
- Overspending on client entertainment will not guarantee business deals
20 years ago, it was quite common to spend a lot of the travel budget on entertaining clients to secure new business deals. No longer is this the trend for successful business meetings, especially if you are a start-up. Before travelling, make sure to plan a budget in advance and set an agenda to ensure any business doesn’t get overshadowed in favour of entertainment.
- Not everything can be expensed when travelling on business
Most companies have daily expense limits, so make sure you know what they are before you travel to avoid misunderstandings when you get back. Over 30% of business travellers also get charged by their banks for using a credit card abroad, so stick to a specialist payment method, such as a prepaid card to avoid confusion when claiming your expenses.
- Ignoring the local culture can cost you dearly
When meeting clients abroad, showing interest in their culture will give them a good indication of your commitment to the future of your working relationship. If you haven’t shown any interest and simply ordered room service rather than venturing out, it can make clients question the importance they have to your business.
- You are not on a social visit, you are representing your company
This is the most common reason why international business deals can fall through: a lack of professionalism and proactive attitude. If you see business travel as an inconvenience, you are probably not the right person to close the deal. Enthusiasm and manners don’t need translations; if they are lacking, your clients will not be inspired to do business.
- Lack of research won’t get you brownie points
Surprisingly, 69% of business travellers do not adapt to local customs, which could explain why nearly 15% of travellers get themselves into embarrassing situations like trying to shake hands when the common curtsey is a head nod.
Make sure you put aside at least two hours for research and have a few translated phrases to hand to avoid situations where you think you ordered a chicken dish for lunch with clients, only to receive a cake instead. Stick to the basic translations, directions, food and manners.
Almost 30% of business travellers feel anxious when they travel abroad, mainly because they think they will get lost or won’t understand their clients. If you have been allocated a significant budget for face-to-face meetings abroad, make sure you avoid simple blunders that can cost clients and future business.
Doing a few hours of research can make all the difference when it comes to acing your international meetings. A couple of things to note when travelling abroad are to always address people by their titles or surnames and let them take the lead, as they are hosts. For more tips please see the Travelex Business Etiquette handbook.