How to plan for your overseas business trip

Whether it’s undertaken to negotiate a contract, to make contacts, or to buy, sell, or generate goodwill, an overseas business trip requires preparation and planning if it is to yield maximum results. You’ll need to know how to get there with the minimum of fuss and expense, what to take, and what you’ll be doing when you arrive. And, in addition to a need for vigilance in a world where personal security is increasingly under threat, there are several other important issues to consider in the planning stage - as the following reveals...

1. Be sure that the trip is really necessary.

Business travel can be one of the most exasperating and expensive aspects of executive life - so, with current advances in telcommunications technology, it is essential to ask ‘Is this trip really necessary?’ Consider viable options: teleconferencing, chat rooms, e-mail, or video conferencing. Eliminate wasteful trips but, if one is imperative, make a good case for going - and adhere to the following advice.

2. Be smart when selecting your airline.

Here are a few handy hints for selecting an airline and booking your overseas tickets:

  • Travel agent. To save time, money, and headaches, if you decide to use a travel agent, choose a good one - one that is looking to build repeat business.
  • Airline. Larger airlines with frequent flights, appropriate backup, and good safety records are usually the most attractive.
  • When to fly. It’s usually cheaper and less congested to fly midweek than on weekends and Mondays and Fridays. The best time to fly, to avoid delays and congestion, is first flight in the morning, late at night, or about midday.
  • Fares. When are fares lowest? Not during holiday periods. Are round-trip tickets cheaper than two one-ways? Are Internet bookings cheaper? Are there special rate structures? What about stop-overs? Check out package deals - there are always strings attached. Shop around. Make your reservations as early as possible, and confirm your bookings and details before the day of departure.

3. Plan your itinerary in advance.

Before you set out…

  • Plan your route and itinerary in detail.
  • Where possible, combine several visits in the same region or country.
  • Compile a precise daily schedule with contact details, and leave a copy at the office before departing.
  • Assemble all documents required for meetings during the trip.
  • Confirm all meetings before leaving in case of cancellations or reschedulings.
  • Gather essential business and other information you will need during the trip.
  • Include several fax cover sheets; and be confident you know how to send e-mail through any laptop computer you may take.

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