A business trip to an exotic country. Nuances and behaviour rules. Opinion of Sergey Mayorov, Head of travel support department of the largest online clothing, shoe and accessories shop

The Russian Association of Business Travel is glad to announce the new section of its ABT Newsletter — Expert opinion. Here corporate buyers of business travel services share their opinions on the main processes of the business travel industry with the readers and speak about their professional activities. Sergey Mayorov, Head of travel support department of the largest online clothing, shoe and accessories shop reveals secrets of a successful business trip.

No doubt, a business trip to an exotic country should be prepared beforehand. Our company’s employees frequently go on business to Brazil, India and China. Not long ago our top-manager took part in talks with the largest shoe suppliers. The business meeting was held in Brazil. I arranged this meeting myself. Our director visited 2 cities during 5 days: Sao Paulo and Porto Alegre. He made two changes (Paris, Sao Paulo) to get to the final destination (Porto Alegre, Brazil). Flight arrangement required a lot of time. I had to find a compromise between his requirements regarding the airline, ticket prices and optimal flight connection. In this case optimal does not mean minimum. Because in case one flight is delayed, the whole schedule is ruined. When the route is so complicated, you should play close attention to the fact whether arrival and departure airports are the same.

The main thing is to follow the schedule

Everyone in our company, even top-management, travels by economy class. Directors have only one benefit: the opportunity to book economy optimum or economy premium for long flights. If an employee has a gold bonus card, he can change the service class to business for his own accumulated miles or occupy comfort seats if they are available.

It is important for a travel coordinator to work out all the details starting from arranging the meeting to the return flight. Visa and passport expiry dates are the first thing you should think about at the stage of trip planning. If you are only going to submit documents for a visa, you should check beforehand whether all the requirements have been met. It will help you avoid delays when it is time for the passport to be ready.

A factory where we manufacture goods under our own brand, is situated in one of Chinese provinces. Approximately 1,5-2 months before the trip we start writing to our partners in order to arrange the time and the date. In order to prevent trip cancellation at the last moment we have to explain the importance of the meeting to our partners.

When you choose long destinations, take account of time difference. For example, time difference with China and other countries of South-East Asia may be 4 hours and more. So it will be more convenient to book a night flight in this case. If you depart from Moscow at 20:00, you will arrive in Guangzhou at approximately 09:00 next morning. If your flight schedule is like this, try to sleep. If you find it difficult going to sleep in the plane, you’d better get up earlier on the day of your departure and have an active day. You will get tired by the evening and fall asleep quickly.

If they arrive in China early in the morning, our managers can proceed to talks with suppliers or visit an exhibition right away, sometimes even without checking in at the hotel. I advise going to bed only at night local time. This will let you adapt to the change of time zones quicker.

Forewarned is forearmed

Buy some amount of local currency in the airport for your pocket expenses. It is better to change the rest of the money later in the Bank of China.

The climate is very humid in Hong Kong, so if there are several talks on your list, you should have 2-3 shirts per day.

It is very hot in Hong Kong streets in summer, so air conditioning is at the maximum everywhere. In order not to catch cold, take a shawl, a scarf or a coat with you. It will look stylish and will not contradict to the business dress code.

In order to avoid stomach problems, do not eat spicy food at least for the first time. Unusual spicy food plus humid climate are a great strain, so give yourself at least 2-3 days to adapt. We do not also recommend cleaning teeth with tap water and drinking it of course.

Do not save on good hotels. A hotel should be clean, neat and practical. The traffic is heavy in China in peak hours, so it can be difficult to find a taxi. And even experienced travellers may find it difficult to make their way by public transport. Taking into account all these facts, it is reasonable to book a hotel not far from the business centre or the site of the meeting or the talks. Despite a high price, you will save your time, money and nerves.

3 Don’ts in China

1. If you are a foreigner in China and do not know the city, you should be prepared for the fact that the taxi driver will take you some extra quarters. Your taxi bill will be appropriate.

2. Do not try to save money on food in China. You’d better pay more for a sandwich and a coffee in a famous network restaurant than take the risk of buying food in the street.

3. Do not visit SPA procedures in the centres that are right in the street. There is a chance to be met not only by massagers, but also by robbers there. You’d better order the same services in the hotel. Beauty centres, hair dressers and cosmetology centres usually work till 2-3 o’clock am.

Get ready beforehand and watch out

It is written in your immigration card that you are to register within 24 hours after you cross the Chinese border. You can do it right in the hotel. Please, remember that you should always have your passport and immigration card with you in China. If you are afraid of losing them, make copies and take them with you. But in case the police check your documents, you will have to explain that your documents are in the hotel and you do not take them with you for safety reasons. Ask the police officer to call the hotel and to check whether you are staying there. Unfortunately, you will have to pay the fine in any case.

And some more advice: always have cash with you, because ATMs are only in large cities. Our managers have had an unpleasant situation: they needed some extra cash which they did not have with them, the factory was in the village and there were no ATMs nearby. So they had to go back to the city. The whole day was lost and the meeting was cancelled.

As for China, robbery is not very common there, especially in Hong Kong.

Singapore is a very safe country, and as for Indonesia, the Philippines or Thailand — on the contrary, you should keep an eye on your things. Here your bag can be snatched out or the purse taken out of your pocket.