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It is highly recommended that company officials visit the countries to examine the markets where they are considering selling their products before any transaction occursa company can familiarize itself with cultural nuances which may impact the design, packaging or advertising of the product. Moreover, traveling abroad allows one to locate and cultivate new customers, as well as improve relationships and communication with current foreign representatives and associatesTypically, a successful business trip requires months of planningProper DocumentationVisas: Visas are required by many countries and cannot be obtained through the Office of Passport Services. They are provided by the foreign country's embassy or consulate in the United States for a small fee. The traveler must have a current U.S. passport to obtain a visa; many cases, a recent photo is required. The traveler should allow several weeks to obtain visas, especially if traveling to developing nations. It is important to note that some foreign countries require visas for business travel but not tourist travel. Therefore, when company representatives request visas from a consulate or embassy, they should notify the authorities that they will be conducting business. Business people should check visa requirements each time they travel to a ccountry because regulations change periodically.
Contact an Export Assistance Center to learn about documentation requirements for the countries where you will be traveling. Vaccinations: Requirements for vaccinations differ by country. While there may not be any restrictions on direct travel to and from the United States, there may be restrictions if individuals travel indirectly, by stopping over in one country before reaching their final destination. Vaccinations against typhus, typhoid, and other diseases are advisable even though they are not required. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) maintains a fax-back system and a homepage to advise travelers of current and accurate country and region conditions. To receive a document dial 888-232-3299 and follow the prompts. The CDC internet address is http://www.cdc.gov. Foreign Customs: Since foreign customs regulations vary widely with each country, travelers are advised to learn in advance the regulations that apply to each country that will be visited.
If allowances for cigarettes, liquor, currency, and certain other items, are not taken into account, they can be impounded at national borders. Business travelers that plan to carry product samples with them may be required to pay import duties. In some countries, duties and extensive customs procedures on sample products may be avoided by obtaining an ATA Carnet.Planning an ItineraryTravel Agents: Travel agents can arrange transportation and hotel reservations quickly and efficiently. They can also help plan the itinerary, obtain the best travel rates, explain which countries require visas, advise on hotel rates and locations, and provide other valuable services. Since travel agents' fees are paid by the hotels, airlines, and other carriers, this assistance and expertise may be free to the traveler. A well-planned itinerary enables a traveler to make the best possible use of time abroad. Although it is expensive to travel and a businessperson's time is valuable, an overloaded schedule can be counterproductive.
Two or three definite appointments, confirmed well in advance and spaced comfortably throughout a day, are more productive and enjoyable than a crowded agenda that forces the businessperson to rush from one meeting to the next before business is really concluded. If possible, an extra rest day to deal with jet lag should be planned before scheduled business appointments. The following travel tips should be kept in mind: . The travel plans should reflect goals and priorities. . Obtaining names of possible contacts, arranging appointments, and checking transportation schedules should be accomplished before the trip begins.
The most important meetings should be confirmed before leaving the United States. The Department of Commerce can offer assistance through programs such as the Gold Key Service. Refer to Chapter 13 for additional information. . As a general rule, the businessperson should keep the schedule flexible enough to allow for both unexpected problems (such as transportation delays) and unexpected opportunities. For instance, accepting an unscheduled luncheon invitation from a prospective client should not make it necessary to miss the next scheduled meeting.
. The traveler should confirm the normal work days and business hours in the countries being visited. In many Middle Eastern regions, for instance, the work week typically runs from Saturday to Thursday. Moreover, lunch hours of two to four hours are customary in many countries. . Foreign holidays should also be taken into consideration. The Department of Commerce's Business America magazine annually publishes a list of holidays observed in countries around the world.
Information from this useful schedule, entitled 'World Commercial Holidays,' can be obtained by contacting the local Export Assistance Center. . The U.S. traveler should also contact an Export Assistance Center to learn of any travel advisories issued by the U.S. Department of State for countries to be visited. Advisories alert travelers to potentially dangerous in-country situations. The Department of State also maintains a telephone service for recorded travel advisories: 202-647-5225. The U.S. business person should be aware that travel from one country to another may be restricted.Check List for Business Meetings and Travel Abroad. Schedule meetings before leaving the United States - Businesses should determine if an interpreter is required and make all necessary arrangements prior to arriving.
REMINDER: Business language is generally more technical than the conversational speech with which many travelers are familiar and mistakes can be costly. . Prepare new business cards in proper languages - In most countries, exchanging business cards at any first meeting is considered a basic part of good business manners. As a matter of courtesy, it is best to carry business cards printed both in English and in the language of the country being visited. Some international airlines can arrange this service. . Prepare for adverse weather conditions - Seasonal weather conditions in the countries being visited are likely to be different than the United States. . Address health care issues - Plan appropriately for prescription drugs, health insurance, vaccinations, diet, and other matters.
. Electrical current - A transformer and/or plug adapter may be needed to demonstrate company products and to use personal electrical appliances. . Money - U.S. banks will be able to provide a list of ATMs overseas, exchange rates, and traveler checks. . Transportation - Companies should prepare for any travel in-country via public or private transportation.
. Communication - Individuals should leave phone and fax numbers and an itinerary with proper company officials in case of an emergency. . Culture - Individuals should familiarize themselves with basic cultural traits such as hand signals, street signs, and basic courtesy such as tipping. . Foreign goods - Individuals should be aware of U.S.
Customs regulations on what can be brought into the United States.Assistance from U.S. Embassies and ConsulatesCommercial and economic officers in U.S. embassies and consulates abroad provide assistance to U.S. exporters through in-depth briefings and by arranging introductions to appropriate firms, individuals, or foreign government officials. Because of the value and low cost of these services, it is recommended that the exporter contact the local Export Assistance Center before traveling ....
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