Built into a career in international trade is the need to travel to visit suppliers or establish relationships with clients. Those who have been in international business for some time have often racked up more than a few frequent flyer miles. Here, we’ve gathered the most useful travel tips straight from those who have been all over the world and have learned a thing or two about jet-setting with style and wisdom.
1. Prepare for the high altitude
You know you need to prepare for different climates: cold, hot, humid, and changeable. Now, have you also factored in altitude?
Don’t just check the weather forecast when traveling to Latin America, also check the altitude you’ll be working at.
The higher up you go (think Bogotá, La Paz, Quito and other cities), the more time you need for adjusting. Don’t schedule meetings for soon after you’ve arrived. Believe me, unless you’re very used to it in your home country, you’ll struggle.
You will very likely feel very tired, at the very least – imagine an appalling jetlag or some mighty hangover! Some people feel nauseous, too, dizzy, or very exhausted. Running up the stairs is a total no-no, it will totally deplete you of energy.
I don’t suffer too heavily from these symptoms but have traveled with people that do, some of whom are young and otherwise very healthy and fit. Keep hydrated. Take it easy and give your body time to adapt. As I said, do check the height. 1,000 meters above sea level might not do you any harm, but at 2,000 meters some people struggle and above 3,000 meters we’re all in for some experience…
By the way, remember that if you open a tube of cream/gel/toothpaste at high altitude, the whole thing will come out very quickly (as it happens on a plane), so watch out! I lost half a tube of newly-bought foundation due to this mistake!” – Gabriela Castro-Fontoura
2. Being a gratuitous host has a big impact on the bottom line
“I was very happy when I convinced a West African delegation of business-people to come to visit a company I was working at in a suburb of Montreal. My plan was for this delegation to meet the management team and some key employees, and show them the large inventory of products ready to export.
I decided to rent a minibus and drive them through the city to the meeting, taking on the role of travel guide at the same time. I was thrilled that they were impressed and had a great time. It turns out that I had created demand for my impromptu tours. The day after the visit, some of the visitors wanted to return to the company, and the new people were also interested. Happily, I played the travel guide once again. Afterwards, they purchased containers of our products!
By adding some extra fun to their travel experience and accommodating their request, I was able to ensure their trip was a great success for all parties involved.
After the success of this visit, we decided to pay them a reciprocal visit to their country in Africa, to continue developing the relationships and the business. These experiences have all taught me valuable lessons, so I hope you found them useful. And I hope you’ll pass on your own stories as well.” – Sylvain Charbonneau, CITP|FIBP
3. Know the culture your heading into
“I was presenting some new diagnostic test to the OBGYN in one of the Universities in Seoul, and was attempting to set up a “trial to buy” at this facility. After we had gone through a long presentation and Q&A session, I came to my close.
After asking “Can we set up a trial later this week, as I am in Seoul until then?”, the assistant professor got up and simply said excuse me and left the office!
We stayed for an hour expecting him back but Ricky, my distributor colleague, advised me than perhaps the customer could not say “no” to performing a trail without losing face, since I would be embarrassed, and he would have been the cause of it. So we left, no trial no sale!
Nowadays in Korea and sometimes Japan, I have to be a bit more subtle with my closing technique, for example I ask if the customer can consider our request for a trial.
4. There are lots of ways to stay connected
“If you’ve done a lot of business traveling, odds are you have paid for roaming on your phone before. Paying your phone company for the ability to access another network and continue your regular phone, text, and data plan internationally can be very useful, but also expensive, depending on where you live and which phone carrier you use.
Before traveling, make sure you research to discover what your roaming charges would be and think about how you want and need to stay in communication, to decide whether paying for roaming charges is the best option for your situation.” – Bennett O’Brien
5. Learn to enjoy the moment when things don’t go as planned
“The art of travel links closely to personal approach and style: politeness goes a very long way and can help resolve what might seem at first like an insurmountable logistical challenge; fits of anger, impatience or arrogance will inevitably exacerbate any issue you might be facing ‘en route’, and you have a great deal of influence on the way you react to a situation.
Delayed train in London as you are heading to Heathrow for a flight across the pond? Don’t worry, sip a nicely chilled Bollinger at the champagne bar at Paddington Station (what else would one order, but a favorite of James Bond when in the UK?)
Delayed connection to Singapore from Tokyo on a first (quick) stop in Japan? No worries, the sushi at Narita is far better than what can be found in some reputable restaurants in Canada, and you may even have an opportunity to learn to appreciate the delicate flavours of cold sake: Kampai! It can get even better when the unexpected small pleasure is topped off with a courtesy upgrade for the next leg of the trip.” – Alexander R. Malaket, CITP|FIBP
There you have the top five tips for traveling, straight from the experts, but it’s really just the tip of the iceberg.
Was this advice helpful? What tips do you have for when you’re traveling? Let us know in the comments down below.