The Do’s and Don’ts for International Business and Travel

When travelling for business, there are certain rules in which you should be aware of and a certain travel etiquette that is expected when travelling for an international business trip. A business trip will differ greatly depending on which country you are visiting and understanding the local customs could be the difference between a successful business trip and an unsuccessful business trip. Even those who have been travelling for business for years can do with a refresher, but if this is your first time travelling for business, here are some simple do’s and don’ts to follow in different countries.

Italy

The Italians like to do business with many countries and luckily one of the most common languages in Italy aside from Italian is English. The Italians like their business associates to have style and it is worthwhile investing in a good quality pair of leather shoes and any other accessories such as this. Handshakes are also very common in Italy with both male and female business associates and is usually done via a grasp of the arm. Business meetings and social events are also very busy in Italy and, therefore, it is very common for many people to speak at once, whilst in some countries this would never happen and would be considered rude.  

The do’s in Italy include dressing well, avoiding discussing political or religious views, and bringing a gift to a home if you are invited. If you are looking for good topics of conversation with your Italian business associates, try categories such as films, family, Italian culture such as food, art and wine. When visiting a home, take chocolates, flowers or pastries. It is traditional for these flowers to be in an even number. The big don’ts for international business travel in Italy include being late, expecting fast decisions, and the number 17. The number 17 in Italy is considered very bad luck indeed and is seen as a “doomed number”. You can exchange business cards at meetings or business functions but avoid doing so in any social situation.

Germany

Again, many German businesspeople speak English, meaning the language barrier may not be present. When making any form of business decisions or contracts with the German population, it is good to remember that they are extremely thorough when examining a project. This means they can take a long time to make a business decision, but once they have done this they are very true to their word in terms of deadlines. Germans are also very thrown off by surprises in business transactions, so any sudden changes should be thought about before doing so.

The do’s in Germany include greeting men with the term “Herr” which means Mr, alongside their last name, even if you know them well. Age also takes precedence so, during a business meeting or any other group setting, the elder must enter the room first. Germans like their dark suits and, therefore, you should pack dark colours when visiting this country. You should also shake hands at the beginning and end of any business meeting. Handshakes can be accompanied by a bow. If this happens, ensure you return the gesture; failure to do this could result in a bad impression. The big don’ts in Germany include getting drunk in public, chewing gum, and phoning an executive at home.

France

The French take business a little more casually than some other countries and are, therefore, great people to work with. Being on time is treated a lot more casually in France and they often like to talk business over food, especially at lunchtime. They do prefer if someone can speak their language too, so if you have someone in your company who can speak both English and French, this should be utilised to your advantage during an international business trip. The best gifts to bring include music or books, as the French often demonstrate a big interest in all things intellectual.

If there is nobody within your team that speaks French, make sure that you apologise to them for this. The do’s for international business travel in France includes dressing conservatively, avoiding any bright colours, shaking hands, and being sensitive to voice volume. Never loosen your tie in the office or take off your jacket. Don’t bother with any flashy jewellery and you must always knock before entering the room. Never be offended if you’re interrupted during a business meeting.

China

China is very different from the UK in terms of business and as many companies do a lot of business with China, they need to know exactly how to act when in this country. Nodding or bowing is the most common form of greeting but you can be offered a handshake. Applause is also very common and although there are many dialects there is just one written language. You should never give a gift to a government official but gifts in the business world are becoming a little more common. The best gift is laying on a banquet and there are certain gifts that should be avoided completely.

There are many do’s and don’ts in Chinese culture, so ensure you brush up on all of these if you intend to do business here. The dos are as follows:  avoiding physical contact, using only formal titles, bringing several copies of documentation to meetings, developing a knowledge of the Chinese culture, pointing with an open palm rather than a finger, and presenting and receiving business cards with two hands. The don’ts in China include wearing jeans, discussing any type of business at a meal, writing on business cards, speaking with your hands, wearing high heels, and beginning to eat or drink before the host.

Travelling Etiquette

You do not just need to know the do’s and don’ts in different countries or with different cultures, you also need to know how to travel when on business. There are certain do’s and don’ts that need to be followed when you are travelling as a business person. This includes having all of your documentation up-to-date and ready. Even something as simple as not checking your passport is in date could ruin your whole business trip and let down your business. The https://www.passports-office.co.uk/ is there for you to renew passport online before your trip. If you are looking for a quick and easy way for passport renewal look no further. If you need to renew passport quickly, this website can also help you with this, as well as provide lots of useful travel information.

There are many do’s and don’ts whilst on the plane too. As a business traveller, you are representing your business, so you should never leave rubbish, don’t interfere with other passengers, and you should arrive early to be seated. You should also dress appropriately but comfortably and drinking alcohol is discouraged. Armrests also belong to the person in the middle seat, yet courtesy must still be extended to other passengers.

International business travel can be difficult so brushing up on the do’s and don’ts before entering a country means you can avoid any embarrassment and have a good experience on your trip. If a colleague has already visited a country, ask them for advice whilst you are over there.

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