Particularly in certain industries that require a lot of networking, negotiation, and/or demonstration, international business travel is extremely important. It can be CEOs and other company bigwigs that go to the big client meetings, but just as often it’s the lower-level employees who get sent to deal with them.
If you run a company and you send staff members on international business trips (or you intend to), then you need to make a concerted effort to support them. They’re not easy to deal with, after all, and the last thing you need is a disgruntled team working under you. Here are 5 tips that can help you avoid that situation:
Whether you send employees on solo or group business trips, you mustn’t leave them to fend for themselves — no matter how carefully you’ve prepared them for everything. They’re working on your behalf, after all, and essentially represent you and your interests, so it’s vital that they’re aware of what matters to you (and feel suitably important).
How you manage this is up to you. Something as simple as a dedicated WhatsApp conversation would be fine, or you could use something built for professional purposes like Skype for Business or Slack. Catch up often and you’ll ensure that your employees feel much more supported (you’ll also form a better understanding of what they’re achieving).
Offer accommodation options
If you’re sending someone to stay in a location that’s somewhat dull, then even one night at a luxury hotel would add a lot to the trip. If they’re heading to an exotic location, though — as can happen on rare occasions — then think less about quality and more about choice. What type of hotel would they like to stay at? In what area?
Take a destination like Costa Rica, for instance. There are plenty of great options for Costa Rica hotels (like those listed by Anywhere), so let them choose one ahead of time, or simply give them an accommodation budget and let them figure it out. Different people have different preferences, and feeling comfortable is absolutely critical for having a productive overseas business trip.
Group them up where possible
Sure, some people are loners and prefer to work solo much of the time, but most of your employees are likely to want company — particularly when they’re abroad, and even more so if they’re visiting countries they don’t know very well and trying to get by using languages they don’t really speak.
If you can send several employees on a given trip, and you’re confident that they can get along (interpersonal skills are worth hiring for), then you should do so. They can help one another out, providing moral support and sharing the work of being in unknown territory (checking routes, translating messages, etc.).
Pay for travel upgrades
An 11-hour flight is almost never going to be pleasant, but throw in the cramped seating of economy class and you have a recipe for misery and physical strain. If you’re going to be putting someone in those conditions on a semi-frequent basis, consider paying for seat upgrades — even to business class if possible.
And when there are other forms of transport required, aim to be similarly financial supportive. Don’t just go for the cheapest train route with several transfers and an extended duration. Pay extra for the most convenient route with the fewest stops along the way. It isn’t just about having a good time: the more your employees become worn down, the less energy they’ll have to make the most of their trips.
Allow time before and after
International travel is often exhausting. If flights are involved, that means enduring lengthy waits at airports, having issues getting through security, carting heavy bags around, and putting up with time zone confusion. And while much of that struggle can’t be avoided, you can make it somewhat easier to deal with by allowing a buffer on each side.
This means allowing staff members to take some time before and after their trips to get ready and recuperate (respectively). When someone gets home from a long trip at 11pm, don’t expect them to be in the office the following morning. Give them a chance to catch their breath and recover from jetlag (you can also provide tips, such as these from Travelstop).