One of the greatest measures of business success is having the opportunity to showcase your products and services on an international scale. This can be achieved through participation and speaking engagements at industry tradeshows, or by pursuing direct partnerships with companies overseas. Either way, if you want to build your business on a global scale, there will need to be some amount of travel to represent your brand. You may also be involved in working with overseas suppliers which may require regular international travel and making the right impression with suppliers can be just as important as with customers.
Prepping for an International Business Trip
Secure Necessary Visas and Passports – It may seem obvious, but if you are traveling with a group, make sure that all members obtain visas ahead of time, and that all passports will be active during the time of travel (few people remember to check expiration dates ahead of time, make sure everyone does; typically in order to get a visa your passport will need to be at least six months away from expiration).
Check Luggage Restrictions – Baggage requirements have been changing a lot lately, be sure to check on regulations from the countries you’ll be visiting, as well as the airlines you’ll be traveling with. Certain items may be allowed in one place, but not another. You don’t want to be stuck in an airport trying to figure out what to do with a company laptop that isn’t allowed on your flight. It is especially important to note that carryon bins on foreign carriers are typically designed for smaller luggage than the U.S. carriers. Be sure to check the airline’s website.
Research Local Culture and Customs – This is especially important if you’re meeting representatives face-to-face, rather than simply exhibiting at a trade show. See if there are dress standards that should be followed, introductory customs, or other bits of information that will help in running a smooth meeting. If language may be a barrier, consider bringing or securing translation services.
Alert Service Providers – Credit cards may initially be declined in another if the service providers are unaware of your travel plans. Similarly, your phone may not work, or you’ll be charged major overages for roaming. Check your mobile plan and consider getting an international calling card or only using WiFi during the trip.
Share Your Itinerary – Make sure all team members are aware of the game plan, and also others back home who may need to reach you. If your phone isn’t working or people can’t get in touch, they’ll at least have an idea of where you’ve been and where they can reach you. Carry an extra photocopy of your passport and leave a copy at home or with someone at the office.
Packing for an International Business Trip
Electrical Adapters – Even if you’re phone works overseas, it’s no use to you if the battery dies and you have no way of charging it. Bring portable battery packs, and bring power adapters that will fit in a variety of outlets.
Variety of Clothing – Bring a few extra clothing options in case the weather changes, or in case you get invited to an event that wasn’t on the original itinerary. Have formal, casual, and at least one dressier option to make sure you’re covered. Consider modest choices that fit in with local styles.
Cash – You never know what vendors will accept credit, so it’s a good idea to have adequate cash on hand. If you can change currencies before the trip, it may be a good idea to do so just in case money changing services aren’t easily found when you touch down.
Snacks – You’ll likely be spending a lot on bottled water and meals, but one way to offset costs and bring a taste of home is by taking pre-packaged snacks with you. Granola bars, bags of pretzels, and even breakfast biscuits can go a long way in satisfying hunger without spending a fortune on food. You may even be able to bring instant oatmeal that can be cooked in a hotel microwave (just check to see if your hotel offers in-room microwaves, first – and remember to use bottled water!).
Though traveling internationally for business requires a lot of planning and prep work, it can open the door to new opportunities for business growth. By taking advantage of these tips and performing due diligence before and during the trip, you’ll be on your way to achieving your goals for growth.
Have more tips for international business travel? Let us know in the comments or by sending us a note on Twitter!