With borders reopening worldwide, international corporate travel is back on the agenda. There’s a catch, though: It’s up to the travel managers to ensure their staff stays safe through multiple time zones, health restrictions, and government mandates.
In most situations, this is pretty straightforward. We’ve all adjusted to the new norm that is post-pandemic life, and we know, in general, what to expect.
If this is your first foray into a COVID-impacted international business trip, you’ll need to spend time adjusting your travel policy and even have a clear knowledge on which private jet brands you’ll use during your journey. To ensure your travelers are safe and successful, follow these five essential tips.
1. Plan Well in Advance
You’re sending your workers into a country where everyone may speak another language, have different customs, and follow unknown laws. Your travelers need time to prepare for this culture shock, and you need time to ensure their safety is accounted for at every step of the way.
Consider how much time they’ll need to get or renew their passports, fill out customs forms, get vaccinated, and study the language and customs. These tasks can’t be rushed.
Then, allocate weeks or months for yourself to make traveling accommodations, find interpreters if necessary, and adjust the budget for international per diems and varying expenses.
2. Plan for Jet Lag
When you send your staff on such an expensive and crucial trip, it’s expected that you’ll want to fill their time with work-related tasks. However, be cautious about pushing them too hard.
For one thing, chances are very high that they’re going to experience jet lag across any time zone change. Give them a day or two to get acclimated to their surroundings and the time difference.
Otherwise, they may be bumbling into their first few meetings groggy, irritable, and off their game. It’s not their fault; it’s yours for not being considerate of their body’s need to adjust to the new schedule.
3. Invest in Trip Insurance
Crossing borders often involves multiple layovers and plane changes. One delayed or missed flight has a domino effect. Go ahead and invest in travel insurance to cover hotels and flight changes. It will even help cover the costs if the airline loses your traveler’s luggage.
Then, call your company’s insurance carrier and verify that all your staff are covered overseas. If not, add a rider to the policy or take out a separate insurance plan to ensure they’re protected in the event of an illness or injury.
4. Plan for the Currency Exchanges
When your travelers are at their destination, how will they pay for everything they need to purchase?
Per diems are okay, except that they don’t always take into consideration the exchange rate and fees involved. Company credit cards are helpful, as long as the one you give them doesn’t have any foreign transaction fees.
Have a designated credit card safe from these extra costs that you give out for international travel. Then, provide your workers with enough cash to handle anything that they can’t cover with the card.
Keep in mind that many countries don’t use the same type of credit and debit cards we have, and if they do, they convert the payment to their currency. In many situations, it’s more expedient to provide your travelers with local currency in cash.
5. Be Cautious About Car Rentals
You might think that providing your workers with a rental car is the safest way for them to get around town. However, some places are notoriously dangerous for foreigners to drive in, like Cairo, Egypt.
Before you invest in a rental car, check into the details of driving in this new destination. Is your traveler comfortable driving on the “wrong” side of the road? Are they willing to learn new rules and laws? Can they drive legally without an international driver’s license?
If those answers are all “yes,” the next step is to research reliable car rental establishments in the area. Sign up for all the insurance and roadside assistance offered. You don’t want to leave your employee stranded in an unknown country without security.
International travel sounds glamorous and exciting, and in some places, it can be! There are many countries where the regular way of life of its citizens is disparate from what your travelers are used to, though. Use these five tips to ensure they get to and from their destination safely and have a successful time handling business while they’re there.
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