Whether you’re traveling solo, with colleagues or as part of a client’s team, every business trip demands you adapt a professional demeanor and etiquette the moment you walk out your front door. Keep that professional face in place with a number of tips from frequent traveler Jim Donaldson, a managing director at the FleishmanHillard PR firm.
Make a Local Effort
If you’re heading to an international destination, it’s professional to make an effort to acknowledge the local culture and customs. It can be something as small as learning a local greeting or a bit of the language, or even making meaningful comments on the area’s architecture, history or weather.
Acknowledge the Local Customs (Sensibly)
Review local business customs you may need to know, but don’t change your own good habits to adapt. Donaldson gives the example of Mediterranean regions that typically have a more flexible attitude when it comes to time, with meetings that may start 20 to 30 minutes late. Stick with your own custom of showing up time, especially since you’ll be pegged as grossly unprofessional if you show up later than your host or client.
Skip the Complaints
No one wants to hear about your personal woes. And folks who live in countries where their bureaucracy or infrastructure makes life arduous certainly don’t want to be reminded of theirs.
Check the Logistics, then Check them Again
Even if your assistant usually tends to the details of your travel, personally double-check them yourself. Don’t assume you can easily get a taxi to the airport, a shuttle to the hotel or enjoy other travel accommodations at your destination just because you can easily do so at home.
Heed What Your Hotel Says about You
Where you’re staying will definitely come up in small talk, and it can mean different things to different people. Staying at a luxury hotel may make one client think you’re a top-notch business, while another may think you’re in the business of over-charging.
Don’t Force the Chitchat
When traveling with clients, it’s polite to say hello and make brief small talk at the airport. But you don’t need to book seats next to each other or keep the conversation going throughout the flight. Flights are one of the few places business travelers are treated to personal time, so judge the vibe and don’t invade theirs.
Watch What You Say
Even if you’re not conversing with clients or colleagues, watch what you say on the plane. It’s not uncommon for several different parties to be heading to the same meeting on the same flight – and you don’t need to air your litany of grievances about the meeting, the company or specific individuals within earshot of any of them.
Keep your conduct polite and professional throughout your entire trip, and you can return to the office without worrying any of it will come back to haunt you.
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