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Business trips

Today the professional business trip is considered to be one of the most effective tools in export prospection. The business trip is a high cost investment; that is why business travel should be prepared meticulously, in order to avoid unnecessary expense. Good preparation can determine the success of the mission. It enables the company to have access to foreign markets, to seek new commercial partners and to draw up contracts with foreign firms.
The organisation of a professional business trip comprises three essential steps: preparing the departure, organisation on the spot and the follow up of the mission.

Preparing your departure | On the spot | Organizing a follow up

Preparing your departure

You should book your plane ticket as quickly as possible, all the more so as some destinations do not have a regular service. Booking in advance allows you to ask travel agencies for quotations and to find the best value for money. In some cases, you need to plan to arrive one or two days ahead (during the weekend for instance), in order to recover from jet lag and to prepare your meetings.

Accommodation is as important as the journey. Indeed, booking your hotel should also be done in advance. You should know that during trade fairs, hotels are often full. Choosing a hotel is not something to be taken lightly. You need to check if it is possible to organize meetings, or receive faxes, and if the location is appropriate for your meetings, especially in large cities.

But preparing a professional business trip is not limited to booking a ticket and a hotel. Before each departure, the traveler should find out about local customs by gathering practical information about his destination. He should adapt as much as possible to local customs. This information takes into account meal times, presents or even the way of dressing.

You should prepare sufficiently ahead of time the documents you will need on the spot (leaflets, catalogs, price lists). They should be translated into the language of the country (or at least into English). If you need to use the services of an interpreter, you are advised to get in contact with him in advance, in order to instruct him about your products and/or services as he will be the one to directly speak highly of them. Moreover, do not wait till the last minute to check how long your passport is valid for, or to request visas and have the vaccinations done that are required for certain destinations. The traveler should also check that his credit card is valid, obtain an international driver's license and have some currency of the country to pay for taxis or tips on arrival.

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On the spot

Once you are on the spot, the greater part of your time will be devoted to your various meetings. Above all you must confirm your meetings or give warning if you are late. In any case, an exporter must know how to manage his time so as not to get overwhelmed (and give prospective customers a bad impression). He must remain flexible and limit the number of meetings in a day. It is better to plan for a few more days in order to best manage your time and work on each contact thoroughly. It has generally been observed that 2 to 4 meetings can be held in one day.

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Organizing a follow up

The follow up is maybe the most important step of the mission.
It amounts to giving concrete expression to and securing the various contacts set up abroad. As soon as he arrives back, an exporter should always thank his contacts personally and send them the documentation they requested or the information they were promised. A company which does not do this, risks wrecking its contacts immediately. The firm must capitalize on the results of the mission at once. A contact which is not reactivated in the week following the trip is considered to be a lost contact. This lost contact makes for a commercial failure and a loss of money.

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