Those who have ever scheduled a business trip overseas know how stressful it is to coordinate flight schedules, hotel check-ins and transportation to and from meetings. If you’re the lucky person in charge of planning an international business trip for your department, you’re probably wondering where to even begin. Fortunately, there are some basic guidelines that make organizing a business trip easier.
As soon as it’s decided that employees are traveling overseas to meet with clients, start planning the trip. The earlier you make arrangements, the better your chances of booking adequate and affordable flight, hotel and transportation reservations. When making reservations, try not to book flights and hotel rooms during holidays or peak flying hours, as tickets will be more expensive during those times.
Mapping out the itinerary
In order for employees to show up to appointments on time, a detailed itinerary is needed. Create an itinerary that includes flight schedules, hotel check-in and check-out times, meeting times, client names and contact information, transportation schedules and meal arrangements. If applicable, also list dinner and entertainment arrangements, and indicate when employees will have free time to explore the area. Email and give paper copies of the itinerary to employees who will be traveling.
Remembering the necessities
Make sure nobody forgets anything by creating a packing list ahead of time. Include important items like laptops, presentation materials, professional attire, business cards and cellphones that work overseas. Don’t forget to obtain foreign currency or traveler’s checks if necessary. Another thing you shouldn’t forget is obtaining a reliable business travel insurance policy from a company like HCC Medical in case someone needs emergency hospitalization while overseas.
Updating important documents
Employees won’t get very far if they haven’t obtained or updated their passports. To apply for a passport, fill out the application at the U.S. State Department’s website and go to a nearby U.S. post office to complete the process. You’ll need to bring a photo I.D. and a passport photo — if you don’t have an acceptable passport photo, the post office can take one for you for an additional fee. Passport applications typically take around four to six weeks to be processed, so employees should start the application process at least 2 months in advance just in case.
Researching the culture
Did you know that in Japan it’s rude to be late to a meeting? Or that in France and Britain it’s rude to talk about business during meals? Save yourself from embarrassment by researching the business culture of the country you’re traveling to. Find out what typical business hours are, how meetings are conducted, what’s expected after meetings and answers to any other etiquette questions you have. It wouldn’t hurt to learn some of the language as well — a sign that you’re genuinely trying to accommodate the client as much as possible.
Organizing a business trip in the States is difficult, let alone planning one in a different country. Do plenty of research and preparation ahead of time to make sure you’re fully prepared before liftoff.